While former Republican presidential nominee Robert J. Dole can lend $300,000 to House Speaker Newt Gingrich to pay his penalty for ethical violations, he can't lend the federal government enough money to fix the entitlement crisis.
Speaking at the 30th anniversary dinner of the Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans in Washington this month, Mr. Dole warned that the problems of the nation's entitlement programs will eventually affect the business community.
"Today, employers voluntarily provide health and retirement benefits to millions of workers and their families," Mr. Dole told the group of about 150 benefits experts.
"But, when the government runs Social Security and Medicare into the red, it will look to pick the pockets of private employers. It will simply have nowhere else to turn. Even I couldn't make a loan that large."
Mr. Dole said true leadership is needed to work through the details of the balanced budget agreement to keep the country on course.
Once that's worked through, Congress should be able to start tackling Medicare, Social Security, education reform and other essential issues to keep the nation moving forward, he said.
The financial shape of these funds are shocking, but the most shocking thing is that people are not outraged by their condition, Mr. Dole said.
"Not many people see a sense of urgency," he said. "If we don't start looking at Social Security (and other entitlement programs), there's going to be real trouble."
Mr. Dole added that Congress probably won't get to the Social Security issue until 1998 or 1999. Inevitably, there will be some effort to privatize the system, he added.