02/08/2005: Soc. Sec. Fallen Rhetoric
Here at Dennis Hastert Corner The Social Security reform debate slogs on...
The Kane County Chronicle , whose editorial staff favors Private Accounts/Personal accounts and G.W.'s grand plans, is begining to notice a slight discrepancy between the rhetoric and the actual proposal. The Chronicle did an "Our Viewpoint" editorial pointing out the distinctions between the Bush pre-election "promises" that the Soc. Sec. "fixer-upper" plans would be "your money -- inherited by your survivors" with the "proposed plan" for annuities which are not "a way to guarantee" to passing along this money to your heirs. It reverts back to the government coffers when you pass away.
Now...having pointed that out...do you really think our Fearless Leader is just ignorant of this pencil-pushing difference of mere "language" choices?? Guess...again. This is the problem with his "re-crafted, evolutionary-type," "English-may-be-his-second-language" efforts at gaining traction and support on this issue.
I'm not (and most reasonable people aren't) denying there aren't ways to "fix" real monetary shortfalls and/or create proposals to supplement this entire "adequate-retirement versus poverty-and-destitution in-old-age" dilemma addressed by the program. What's "wrong" (seriously wrong) with the proposals by G.W. is that it neither fixes the actual monetary shortfall predicted...may even make this issue WORSE, plus fails to live up to his "lofty, soaring, pie-in-the-sky" rhetoric about the solutions he IS proposing.
But nice job Chronicle...catching on the obvious discrepancies...now get to the rest of them...
To read more about social security articles on this Rhetoric versus Realities: click on the "more" button.
The Washington Post has an article by Harold Meyerson on these social secuirty issues, as does the Christian Science Monitor. None is favorable to the President's current "proposed" solutions.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports:
"A fact sheet released by the White House on Feb. 3 acknowledged that retirees who receive a real rate of return on their private accountsequal to three percent above inflation (which is the Congressional Budget Office's projected rate of return on such accounts, with risk adjustment) would not benefit from the accounts. Their private account balances would be offset in full by the Social Security benefit reductions to which they would be subject in return for electing the private accounts.
But the White House fact sheet also stated that, "Even if the worker were only to break even financially, he would be better off because of his ownership rights: If he were to die before retirement age, he would have an asset to pass on to his loved ones; If he were to divorce, his account would be marital property."
The White House is indicating that no offset would apply to private accounts in the case of divorce or death prior to retirement. But this also means that all of the private account contributions for such workers would represent a net loss for Social Security and a net cost for the budget. By itself, this proposal thus would worsen the solvency of Social Security. As a result, even deeper cuts in Social Security benefits would be required to restore solvency.
It also may be noted that the existing Social Security system provides survivors benefits and benefits for divorced spouses. If we wanted to make those benefits more generous, we could add a lump-sum payout to the exiting Social Security system that would be equivalent to what such individuals would receive from private accounts under the President's proposal, and we could do so at similar cost. But most analysts would view such a change in Social Security as unwise, because it would entail adding new benefits to Social Security before proposing any steps to restore the program's long-term solvency.
The White House proposal has the same shortcoming: it would make Social Security's shortfall larger. It is not accompanied at this time by any by proposal to make up for this worsening of Social Security's financial condition. And, as noted, the end result would be larger Social Security benefit reductions.
So Much for "Lofty Rhetoric"..I'm still waiting for workable solutions that aren't disguised as total destruction of the entire Social Security Program as we know it.
Karen on 02.08.05 @ 10:17 AM CST