Nov 18 2004

WASHINGTON -- Social Security modernization proponents have received a boost from an unlikely source – the very agency charged with administering the program -- after the agency completed an analysis of legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). Graham met today and discussed the analysis with leaders of the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security (AWRS), a business group supporting Social Security modernization, in his Senate office. On this day one year ago, Graham introduced legislation (S.1878) which combines the best of traditional Social Security system with the opportunity for younger workers at all income levels to build a retirement nest egg through personal accounts. Personal accounts would provide safe investment options similar to those now available to federal employees and improve on a system that will provide low growth rates for younger workers. They also provide stronger anti-poverty protections than are present in today’s system, a fact confirmed by the Social Security analysis. Under the plan, current retirees, workers 55 and older, and persons with disabilities would remain in today’s system with no changes to benefits, taxes, or annual cost of living adjustments. The plan gives workers 54 and younger the choice to join a modernized system that provides future retirees an inflation-indexed traditional benefit from Social Security that is at least as high as the benefits received by retirees today plus a personal retirement account. Workers would have the opportunity to set aside 4 percentage points of their Social Security taxes (up to $1,300 annually) in a personal retirement account that they would own and control. Workers could invest their contributions in low-cost, diversified stock and bond index funds. These investments would build value over time. At retirement, workers could draw on their account assets to help pay their monthly Social Security benefits or pass their account onto their heirs. Time is of the essence. The current Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes in 2018 and becomes insolvent by 2042. Among the findings from the Social Security Administration’s analysis of Graham’s bill:
  • Restores Social Security surpluses rather than produce ever increasing deficits. Under the current system there will be a $588 billion (in $2003) deficit in 2061. Under the Graham plan there will be a $100 billion surplus.
  • Make the system solvent by placing Social Security on solid financial footing permanently at a cost that is substantially less than maintaining the current system. To maintain the current system permanently, it will take $10 trillion dollars, while implementing the Graham plan will cost less than $1.7 trillion.
  • Strengthens the social safety net by making benefits more progressive and provides higher benefits to low-income workers.
  • Lifts roughly 688,000 seniors out of poverty by 2061. The projected elderly poverty rate would be reduced from 2.7 percent under the benefits the current system can pay to 1.1 percent.
  • Improves return on worker investment. By 2061 average expected benefits would be over 25 percent higher than the benefits today’s system can afford at current tax rates.
  • Because workers would own their personal retirement accounts, the plan creates an average bequest at death of nearly $5,000 (in 2004 dollars) for workers retiring in 2022 and over $52,000 for workers retiring in 2061.
“Sustained solvency of Social Security is the greatest challenge we face,” said Graham. “This report shows that balanced reform plans – including plans put forth by the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security -- can protect our most vulnerable retirees, while ensuring that younger workers and future generations are not buried under a mountain of debt. To do nothing is political malpractice.” ####

Nov 15 2004

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the resignations of Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Energy Spence Abraham, Secretary of Education Rod Paige, and Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman. “I appreciate the work these distinguished public servants have done for our nation and President Bush. We owe each of them a debt of gratitude. “South Carolina and the Savannah River Site could not have asked for a better friend than Spence Abraham. He brought a level of creativity to the Department of Energy that will pay dividends for years to come. As Secretary, he was more than willing to work with us to establish new missions at the Site such as MOX and understands the importance this program holds for our nation and the world. “Secretary Powell has compiled a lifetime of exceptional service to his nation and is one of the most distinguished Americans in history. His knowledge of world affairs and valuable advice has been vitally important to our nation in fighting and winning the war on terror. “Secretary Paige was a leader in President Bush’s efforts to establish accountability standards in our public schools. He was also one of the driving forces behind the landmark No Child Left Behind legislation and his legacy will be felt long after his service is completed. “The first woman to hold the position, Secretary Veneman ran the Department of Agriculture in a bipartisan manner. Her management style encouraged teamwork, innovation, and respect in coming up with solutions to problems facing America’s farmers and ranchers.” #####

Nov 10 2004

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced Charleston Interfaith Crisis Ministry will receive a $232,305 Healthcare for the Homeless (HCH) grant. The funds will help provide primary health care, mental health, and substance abuse services to the homeless population in the Charleston area. Interfaith Crisis Ministry has been a recipient of this competitive federal grant since 1996. The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ####

Nov 10 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced the Bamberg Fire Department will receive a $31,041 firefighting grant. “Firefighters risk their lives to protect others, and they deserve the best equipment and training available,” said Graham. “Firefighters are some of the heroes in our midst.” The Assistance to Firefighters Grant will help the fire departments improve their training, wellness and fitness programs; purchase new firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and, make modifications to fire stations and facilities. The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel. Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ####

Nov 09 2004

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the resignations of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans: “Attorney General Ashcroft presided over the Justice Department during one of the most difficult periods in American history. He has done a marvelous job aggressively fighting terrorism and making us safer by strongly supporting the PATRIOT Act. He leaves a legacy that will stand the test of time. He has served our President and nation well.” “Secretary Evans provided steady leadership during troubling economic times. He aggressively pursued open markets for American products and was one of the President’s strongest advocates for tax relief and reform. Our nation is better off for his service, and he will be missed.” ####

Nov 05 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $148,000 in grants to fire departments in Anderson and Ware Shoals. “Firefighters risk their lives to protect others, and they deserve the best equipment and training available,” said Graham. “Firefighters are some of the heroes in our midst.” The Assistance to Firefighters Grants will help the fire departments improve their training, wellness and fitness programs; purchase new firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and, make modifications to fire stations and facilities. Anderson Centerville Fire Department will receive $69,017. Ware Shoals Western Laurens Fire Department will receive $79,416. The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel. Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. The grants are made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ####

Nov 04 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), along with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, will host the 2004 Ambassadors Tour. “We want to showcase the business opportunities South Carolina has to offer to the world,” said Graham. “The tour is a great opportunity to build relationships which can be beneficial in the coming years.” Graham worked with economic development leaders to put together the event which begins on Monday. High-level dignitaries from countries in the Americas, Europe, and Middle East plan to attend the five-day event which begins in Myrtle Beach and continues through Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and other areas of the state. Leaders from the state’s economic development alliances including South Carolina Department of Commerce, Central South Carolina Alliance, Charleston Regional Development Alliance, Upstate Alliance and the South Carolina Export Consortium will participate. “The tour will showcase our state’s diverse cultural, recreational and economic offerings,” said Graham. “By promoting South Carolina, we hope to extend our reach into countries that have shown real interest in expanding or building their businesses here.” The tour kicks off in Myrtle Beach with a discussion of tourism and the international trade center. The dignitaries will then travel to Charleston with a visit to the port as well as experience the historical and cultural significance the city has had on the national stage. The groups also travel to the Midlands and the Upstate region with stops planned for the University of South Carolina, the State House, Clemson University, Greenville as well as tours of South Carolina’s leading businesses and manufacturers. “This is an opportunity for other countries to reach out and explore possibilities for successful business endeavors in South Carolina and an opportunity for our businesses to showcase their goods and services,” said Graham. “We’re hopeful we’ll be able to forge long-term relationships which will be beneficial to all.” #####

Oct 28 2004

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced $1.2 million in grants to fire departments in Abbeville, Anderson, Belvedere, Blacksburg, Calhoun Falls, Lancaster, Orangeburg, Ridgeville, Rowesville, Spartanburg, Union, Williamston, and Williston. “Firefighters risk their lives to protect others, and they deserve the best equipment and training available,” said Graham. “Firefighters are some of the heroes in our midst.” The grants are awarded in one of two program areas:
  • Firefighting Operations and Firefighter Safety Program: The funds may be used for training, wellness, and fitness programs; the purchase of firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and modifications to fire stations and facilities.
  • Firefighting Vehicle Acquisition Program: The funds may be used for the purchase of firefighting vehicles including pumpers, brush trucks, tankers, rescue vehicles, ambulances, quints, aerials, foam units, and fireboats.
Abbeville Sharon Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $56,875 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Anderson Zion Fire Department will receive a $64,538 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Belvedere Belvedere Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $63,503 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Blacksburg Buffalo Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $46,742 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Calhoun Falls Calhoun Falls Fire Department will receive a $71,977 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Lancaster Camp Creek Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $130,500 grant for a firefighting vehicle. Orangeburg Four Holes Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $84,611 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Ridgeville Ridgeville Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $68,055 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Rowesville Rowesville Fire Department will receive a $196,629 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Spartanburg Whitney Area Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $68,877 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Union Cross Keys Volunteer Fire Department will receive a $133,200 grant for a firefighting vehicle. Williamston Williamston Fire Department will receive a $64,844 grant for firefighter operations and safety. Williston The town of Williston will receive a $158,280 grant for a firefighting vehicle. The Assistance to Firefighters grant program awards one-year grants directly to local fire departments, enhancing their ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards in the community. The program supports departments by providing them the tools and resources necessary to protect the health and safety of the public and their firefighting personnel. Grantees share in the cost of the funded project at a percentage based on the population of their respective jurisdiction. Grantees that serve jurisdictions of 50,000 or fewer residents are required to provide a non-Federal cost-share of 10 percent while grantees that serve jurisdictions of over 50,000 provide a 30 percent cost-share. The match must be in cash without the use of in-kind contributions. In addition, the maximum amount of federal funds that an applicant can be awarded is $750,000 during any fiscal year. Grant funds to local fire departments will come from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. ####

Oct 19 2004

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the follow statement on Senator Kerry’s (D-Massachusetts) refusal to offer a plan to modernize Social Security. Kerry made the comments in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Graham said: “The goal of any President, regardless of party, must be to achieve sustained solvency of Social Security. Anyone wishing to lead our nation should offer proposals to strengthen Social Security for future generations.” “President Bush has a plan to modernize and improve Social Security. He is working in a bipartisan manner to find solutions to Social Security’s impending bankruptcy.” “Senator Kerry, it is not enough to say what you are against. Please also tell us what you support. Failure to stand up and say what you support when it comes to saving Social Security is a failure of leadership.” “Millions of Americans rely on Social Security, and it is in trouble. Without presidential leadership the problem will continue to get worse and the political low road will be devastating for the future of the program.” “The politics of fear and distortion must give way to honest debate and real solutions. America deserves no less from those who want to lead this great nation.” #### Background on Social Security and Senator Lindsey Graham:
  • Without Social Security, millions of Americans who rely on the program for their retirement, disability, and survivor’s income would live in poverty.
  • Unfortunately, Social Security as it is currently structured faces serious financial problems. As former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-New York) wrote in the Final Report of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security, “… Social Security is in need of an overhaul. The system is not sustainable as it is currently structured.”
  • The Trustees of Social Security have warned us of the serious, structural problems facing the system. In 2018, for the first time in history, the program will begin to pay out more in benefits than it takes in as taxes. In 2042, the “trust fund” will be insolvent and unable to pay full benefits to retirees.
  • The problems facing Social Security are due in large part to demographic changes in the United States. In 1950, there were 16 workers supporting 1 retiree. Today, the ratio is 3 to 1. Within a generation, the ratio will drop to 2 to 1.
  • In just five short years, the first wave of baby boomers will be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. Between 2011 and 2030, the number of Social Security recipients will increase 65 percent, while the working, taxpaying population will only increase 8 percent.
  • The combined shortfall in Social Security and Medicare is 5 times as large as all of today’s publicly held debt and 8 times as large as total federal spending in 2002.
  • To keep Social Security solvent in the future, we have three choices. We can raise payroll taxes by 50 percent, cut benefits by 30 percent or modernize the system though innovative reforms that include personal accounts.
  • The Social Security Solvency and Modernization Act introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) will put the system on solid financial footing by giving workers a choice of ways to balance the system.
  • The Graham plan makes no false promises – each option leads to solvency for the system.
  • The Social Security Solvency and Modernization Act reduces the cost of Social Security substantially and saves our children and grandchildren from a crushing financial burden.

Oct 15 2004

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement: “I have personally contacted U.S. military authorities in Baghdad and have been informed that no member of the reserve unit in question has been arrested or detained. “The reserve unit has been in Iraq for over nine months and has performed honorably. “The issue to be addressed is whether or not a small group of reservists expressed concerns or acted in an inappropriate manner leading to a temporary breakdown of good order and discipline. “There is an on-going investigation. I am confident this matter will be fully and fairly addressed and I intend to follow it to its conclusion.” #####