Statement on Proposed Social Security and Unemployment Benefits Legislation

March 22, 1983

One of the most important pieces of legislation to be considered by the Congress this year is being held hostage by a small but highly funded and organized special interest group.

Until a few days ago, it appeared that an omnibus bill to make social security solvent and extend supplemental unemployment benefits would be enacted this week. I would have gladly signed this vital measure to relieve legitimate worries about the economic security of so many.

Now, however, a selfish special interest group and its congressional allies are attempting to make this vital economic security bill a legislative hostage. But let me make absolutely clear that an unrelated rider amendment -- based on a campaign of distortion and designed to prove that the banks and other financial institutions can still have their own way in Washington -- has no place in the bill pending before the Senate.

We should not accept an amendment designed to prevent the collection of taxes that are already owed on interest and dividends, even if the financial institutions find it inconvenient.

This morning, I have strongly urged the leadership of the Senate to take whatever steps may be needed to free the economic security bill from this blatant attempt at legislative hostage taking. The social security and unemployment insurance lifeline that extends to millions of Americans across the breadth and width of our land cannot be permitted to be severed by the obstructionist tactics of a Washington lobby and its congressional friends. As I said last week, it would be far better if the bankers spent less time lobbying and more time lowering interest rates.