Group Demands Apology for Lawmaker's 'Anti-Youth' Statement

July 7, 2008 - 7:30 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Some young voters are demanding an apology from a Republican lawmaker who criticized President Bush's intentions to reform Social Security.

On the front page of Tuesday's Washington Post, Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) was quoted as saying, "When does the [Social Security] program go belly up? 2042. I will be dead by then."

Simmons was rejecting the president's stated desire to let younger workers funnel a small percentage of their Social Security payroll tax into privately held accounts.

"It is profoundly irresponsible for him to discount the future of the younger generations of America for myopic political efficiency," SaveMyGeneration.org President Ian Crafford, 20, told Cybercast News Service . "While he may be dead before 2042, not all of them [his constituents] will be."

Crafford's organization, a think tank that examines the effect of public policy on young voters, is sending a letter to Simmons' office requesting an apology on behalf of young Americans, who deserve the same respect as other citizens, Crafford said.

"Our vote is worth the same amount as our retired counterparts," Crafford continued. "For Rep. Simmons to consider only his own interest in deciding his position on legislation indicates a shameless disregard for the interests of young people."

Crafford criticized Simmons for paying more attention to "certain special interest groups" such as the American Association of Retired People, which opposes President Bush's Social Security reform plan. He accused Simmons of being "worried about keeping his job, not doing it."

Beyond an apology, Simmons should "reconsider his position and move to tackle issues and solve problems that pose threats to the well-being of younger generations as well as current ones," Crafford said.

Simmons' chief of staff confirmed that the third-term congressman is unlikely to apologize.

"I would hardly think an apology is necessary," Todd Mitchell said. "Just because he doesn't support the idea of cutting benefits ... doesn't mean he opposes programs that will help young people prepare for the future."

Mitchell, who had not seen Crafford's letter when he spoke to Cybercast News Service, said Simmons "represents a very broad constituency," and he called Crafford's criticism of the lawmaker "baseless."

Mitchell said the congressman was making the point that many older Americans are more concerned about the present than the future, when it comes to Social Security.

In addition to asking for an apology, SaveMyGeneration.org also wants Simmons and other members of Congress to confront the issue of Social Security head-on.

"Procrastination has not and will not solve the problem," Crafford said. "This flippant attitude toward one of the most important political crises in decades is unacceptable."

SaveMyGeneration.org describes itself as a non-profit organization that aims to be "the premier resource for young voters and policy-makers who seek to educate themselves about wise policy decisions for the economic future of young voters."

President Bush on Tuesday, in an event billed as a ?conversation on Social Security," cautioned that younger workers face a dim future when it comes to their Social Security benefits.

"By the time today's workers who are in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt," Bush told an audience at a panel discussion.

"So if you're 20 years old, in your mid-20s and you're beginning to work, I want you to think about a Social Security system that will be flat bust, bankrupt, unless the United States Congress has got the willingness to act right now," the president said.

Send a Letter to the Editor about this article.