Originally uploaded by TexasTaylor.
[This is one of a series of postings featuring the history of Texas Forums prior to November 2006. These photos were retrieved for the NIF 25th anniversary celebration and are being posted here for those who are new to Texas Forums and want to know more about us. For more entries about our history, go to our History Category Page.]
On April 21, 2005, volunteers from Texas Forums moderated simultaneous forums on “The Medicare Burden: how can we ensure health care coverage for older Americans?” for the Big Choices Symposium hosted by the LBJ Library, the UT Center for Health and Social Policy and LBJ Future Forum.
The organizers recruited people from:
- Third Age, part of the University of Texas at Austin’s Continuing Education Program for senior adults (over 60 years of age).
- Young professionals
- Members of the three informal continuing education programs operating out of the Thompson Conference Center (SAGE, LAMP, and Quest.
- Representatives of the local AARP office
- Future Forum, an LBJ affiliate that seeks to expand the involvement of young Texans with the LBJ Library and to foster greater civic involvement within the community (typically ranging in age from 25 to 45).s
During the planning time of the Big Choices Social Security symposium, the symposium organizers learned that the National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) was developing a 32-page discussion guide based on three different approaches to social security:
• Reaffirming Social Security: The Promise of Protection
• Reconstructing Social Security: The Case for Personal Accounts
• Renewing Social Security: Revising the Contract for a New Generation
Working closely with the author of the discussion guide, members of the Texas Forums network distilled the three approaches in the draft issue book into a tri-fold brochure rather than attempting to frame the issue from scratch.
In preparation for the forums, participants heard presentations from leading experts in the field including commentary from Kenneth S. Apfel, former U.S. Social Security Commissioner and founder of the Center for Health and Social Policy and Dalmer Hoskins who provided an international perspective as the Secretary General of the International Social Security Association. Additional participants in the roundtable discussion were:
- John Rother, Director of Policy and Strategy, AARP
- Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, New America Foundation
- Barbara Kennelly, President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
- Stuart Butler, Vice President, Domestic and Economic Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation
- Peter Orszag, Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
- Thomas Saving, Director, Private Enterprise Research Center; Jeff Montgomery Professor of Economics, Texas A&M University; Public Trustee, Social Security Board of Trustees
Following a dinner hosted by the LBJ Library, the participants reconvened in the library’s atrium and were joined by members of the LBJ Library Future Forum. In break out groups, volunteers from Texas Forums moderated simultaneous deliberative forums using content based on the NIFI discussion guide.
- Participants were adamant that Social Security should be preserved, but were willing to be flexible and explore minor changes to the system.
- Social Security is not a substitute for retirement savings, but should be seen as a supplement.
- While some people were concerned that the working poor are paying into a system that is benefiting wealthier retirees, participants were concerned that allowing people to opt out of the system could weaken support for it.
- Several participants expressed a willingness to accept trade-offs in order to preserve the current system – those with higher incomes were willing to pay more in and take less out.
- Raising the age of retirement was an option participants were willing to explore, but they wanted to preserve the individual’s right to choose their own retirement age and were concerned that forcing the retirement age upwards would unduly impact laborers.
- Incentives to increase personal savings were well-received, but participants were concerned that personal accounts were impractical for lower wage earners and the majority of people who are not knowledgeable about how to manage their own investments.
The full report can be viewed here.
To see more photos from this event, go to our Flickr site for Social Security photos.