Hulshof discusses Social Security reform

Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:57 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Social Security is not the only thing in need of reform when it comes to supporting the United States’ aging population, U.S. Rep Kenny Hulshof, R-Mo., said Monday at a luncheon with members of the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

To support Social Security reform, he said, more issues need to be brought to the table and discussed at length.

“We need to broaden the debate and realize this is not just about Social Security; this is going to be about long-term health and Medicare issues, too,” he said before the crowd of about 50 business owners and operators from around the state.

The event was sponsored by the Missouri NFIB and billed as a chance for business owners to hear what Hulshof has been doing in Washington on their behalf. The group asked only a handful of questions, most of which focusing on Social Security.

Hulshof reiterated his support for changing the Social Security system and even predicted the government might be forced to reduce benefits as soon as 2008, when much of the baby-boomer population will be eligible for early retirement at 55. Officials with the Social Security Administration, on the other hand, have predicted they will not have to cut any benefits until 2041.

“Those who think we can tinker around the edges do not understand the demographic changes this program is facing,” Hulshof said.

Although Hulshof said he supports President Bush’s idea of means-based benefits, a system that would call for low-income citizens to receive more support at the expense of wealthier workers, he still wants to keep an open mind and consider all ideas brought to the debate. Hulshof is a member of a House subcommittee that will eventually discuss Social Security reform when the debate moves from the Senate.

Much of Hulshof’s talk, though, centered on his support for repeal-ing the estate, gift and generation-skipping tax — or the “death tax,” as some politicians call it — some-thing he said hurts small businesses.

“The government taxes you for being successful and saving for your future,” Hulshof said. “That is pretty much what the death tax is, a tax on you not spending your money.”

Hulshof drew from his own life as he described what he called the painful process of watching his own family’s attorney assess how much he would have to pay in taxes from his parents’ farm when they died in the past few years.

“Whatever Congress does will not help my family; that is already done,” he said. “But it will help your families.”

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