By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 9/22/2004 7:29:49 PM ET 2004-09-22T23:29:49

Ron and Kristin Chaney have a 3-year-old son, another child on the way and lots of concerns about Social Security.

"It's frustrating to know that… (my money) goes to something that doesn't even potentially benefit me in the future," says Ron.

Today the Social Security Trust Fund totals about $1.7 trillion, with just over 47 million beneficiaries. As baby boomers retire, they stop paying and start collecting.  So, by 2042, many economists expect the number of beneficiaries to reach 92 million, with the trust fund totally depleted.

"Anybody who's an adult, who looks at this problem, realizes that you have to fix it.  You have to fix it immediately and that there's pain associated with fixing it," says Laurence Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University.

There’s too much pain for either candidate to propose raising the retirement age or cutting benefits.

President Bush says often on the campaign trail — "the promise of Social Security will be kept." He proposes letting young workers put some of their payroll taxes in personal savings accounts.

But the president has been saying this for four years and never offered any specifics. Why?

Critics say his plan would cost at least $2 trillion just to implement. That’s a hard sell given the huge budget deficit.

Not surprisingly, opposing presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is denouncing the president's idea, warning seniors their benefits would suffer.

"I will never privatize Social Security! Period. And I will not cut Social Security benefits," he told a campaign audience in West Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday.

So, what will Sen. Kerry do?

The Kerry campaign Web site offers only a vague commitment to keeping Social Security as is, by growing the economy, restoring fiscal discipline and instilling a bipartisan process with Congress — again, no specifics.

And despite the rhetoric, neither candidate is giving much hope that anything will really be done.

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