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Proposed changes to Social Security to be topic of free, public forum at Illinois

Craig Chamberlain, News Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Changes to Social Security being proposed by President Bush will be the topic of a forum on Feb. 23 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, featuring a former Clinton administration economist, along with Illinois professors of finance, law and history.

The forum, set for 7 p.m. on the third floor of the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana, is the latest in an occasional series on critical public issues sponsored by the university’s Center for Advanced Studies. Topics in recent years have included civil liberty and national security, and stem cell research.

The event is free and open to the public.

Among the panel participants will be William Spriggs, an economist who recently joined the Economic Policy Institute as a senior research fellow. In 1993, he joined the Clinton administration to lead the staff of the National Commission for Employment Policy, then held positions with the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration. In 1998 he left the government to head the National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality.

Other participants:

Jeffrey Brown, professor of finance, who served from 2001 to 2002 as a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, with Social Security and pension reform among his primary areas of focus. During 2001, he also served on the staff of the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security.

Richard Kaplan, the Peer and Sarah Pedersen Professor of Law, an expert on taxation, tax policy and elder law. In 2002, he was a delegate to the National Summit on Retirement Savings, organized by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Mark Leff, a professor of history, who specializes in 20th century public policy and has written about the New Deal period and the history of Social Security.

The organizers of the forum hope to provoke a discussion about the future of Social Security, with attention to the fact that the baby boom generation will begin to retire in about five years. Topics of discussion may include questions of social rights and intergenerational responsibilities, arguments for and against partial privatization, and how potential changes will impact women and minorities, as well as the population as a whole.

The forum will begin with brief remarks from the panelists, followed by audience questions.