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Mensah Participates in Conversation on Entitlements

June 18, 2008  • Institute Contributor

Lisa Mensah, Executive Director of the Initiative on Financial Security, participated in a three-day virtual panel discussion held by on the state of the nation’s entitlement programs.

The discussion – “Can we afford our entitlement promises? How close is the cliff?” – involved several leading policy experts in addition to Mensah, including president of the New School and former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey; David Walker, President of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former Comptroller General of the United States; and Robert Berenson of the Urban Institute.

While the conversation focused on the state of America’s entitlement promises, the topic of retirement security dominated much of the debate. Mensah argued that the unique importance of Social Security lies in its status as a universal program of insurance where everyone shares responsibility. But, Mensah added, there is a need for personal savings that would supplement, not replace, Social Security. She argued that a top priority should be to build “a first-class savings system for all Americans” and noted that the “system doesn’t always encourage people to save. Some 50% of workers aren’t even offered a retirement account.”

While proposed solutions to the entitlement situation differed greatly, each participant confirmed the need for greater public engagement in creating more solvent and efficient entitlement programs.

To read more of the discussion, click here.