Hastert Hopes to 'Not Raid' SS Trust Fund

By Bruce Sullivan | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - While admitting that it may be difficult, due to a number of natural disasters and emergencies that Congress "hadn't planned on," Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said Sunday that the GOP controlled Congress will try to end a 30-year pattern of tapping the Social Security Trust Fund to balance the federal budget.

"I think we can pass our appropriations bills and not raid the Social Security Trust Fund," said Hastert on CBS' Face The Nation. "However, there have been disasters and we've had other things come down the road that we hadn't planned on," he added.

Appearing on the same show with Hastert was House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), who expressed doubt that Congress would be able to meet budget requirements without taking about $30 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund. He accused Republicans in Congress of using "gimmicks" to fund the government.

"We think by now," said Gephardt. "With all the gimmicks they're putting in of forward funding, calling everything an emergency from the census to the defense budget, we're going to be $30 billion into Social Security funds."

Gephardt called for Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) to meet with President Clinton and Democrats in Congress in a budget summit to deal with the problem.

"I absolutely think that the way to get this done is to sit down with the president and with leaders on both sides as soon as possible," said Gephardt.

Lott said that he has seen no evidence that Clinton wants to meet with the GOP leadership.

"If he wants to engage us, he hasn't given any indication," said Lott following Clinton's veto of a $792 billion tax cut bill last week.