Third rail? What third rail?

Published December 3, 2004 6:20PM (EST)

The Bush advisor who was a little too frank for some people's tastes about the benefits of outsourcing now offers his ominous assessment about the future of Social Security benefits. From the New York Times:

"Calling the current system of Social Security benefits unsustainable, a top economic adviser to President Bush on Thursday strongly implied that any overhaul of the system would have to include major cuts in guaranteed benefits for future retirees."

"'Let me state clearly that there are no free lunches here,' said N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, at a conference on tax policy here. 'The benefits now scheduled for future generations under current law are not sustainable given the projected path of payroll tax revenue,' he added. 'They are empty promises.'"

The White House wasn't quite on board, publicly, with Mr. Mankiw's language. Said Claire Buchan, a White House spokeswoman: "The president is committed to strengthening Social Security for younger workers so they don't face the massive tax increases or benefit reductions that are certain with inaction."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

MORE FROM Geraldine Sealey

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room