Former Maine Senate president Richard Bennett has an op-ed in the PPH today that repeats the same tired Republican talking points about Social Security that have failed to win any support for the President's plan anywhere in the country. He tries to create a sense of urgency by warning that benefits might start being decreased by the time his 9-year-old daughter is ready to retire, and then goes right into touting President Bush's "bold step" of suggesting private accounts. Nowhere does he even attempt to explain how partial privatization would address Social Security solvency (it wouldn't).
The most interesting part of his defense of privatization is this paragraph:
These personal savings accounts would belong to each worker, not the system. So if someone died before he or she could draw their Social Security benefits, that person could bequeath that portion of the benefits in a personal savings account to a child or loved one. Currently, this is not an option with Social Security.
This is a very misleading statement. From what is known of Bush's plan (even after months of pushing it he still hasn't released the details) the money in a private account would not "belong" to the worker. The White House website states that "American workers who choose personal retirement accounts would not be allowed to make withdrawals from, take loans from, or borrow against their accounts prior to retirement." In addition most workers would not be able to leave money from their account to a loved one even after they retire. Upon retirement, a worker would be forced by law to use the money from his or her private account to purchase an annuity that would pay out enough monthly to keep them above the poverty line (no word on what would happen if the stock market didn't do well enough for them to afford this annuity). For most workers, this would take up all or most of their "personal" account, leaving nothing to pass on to their family.
So even when argued for from a straight privatization standpoint, the Bush plan fails. Basically it offers all of the risks and few of the benefits of private investment while at the same time drowning the Social Security system in trillions of dollars of debt.
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