The foremost problem with trying to fix Social Security right now is not money. It is dishonest politics. Our system has deteriorated so much that as soon anyone signals any fiscally prudent idea, cries of “you are starving old people” begin. This tactic has stifled any substantive debate that could be solving the crisis we face with Social Security.
Ever since President Bush proposed privatizing Social Security, the Democrats have prevented honest discussion by knowing that any solution is going to have some pain in it.They pull the emotional card and start preying on our vulnerabilities. Their solution has been to propose nothing, wait for the Republicans to make suggestions, and then demagogue it as a means to discredit it.
I propose that – as a matter of principle and proper political behavior – there should be no deriding of a proposal unless a solution is proposed as well. This would allow debate to ensue and hard questions to be resolved. The media would do well to realize that lively reporting on an attack without reporting the hypocrisy of the attacker, is not competent reporting.
President Obama violates this honest way of doing business and legislating. He has already waved his dismissive hand over the privatization solution, by disingenuously asserting that such a proposal would “[tie] your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market”, even going so far as to suggesting, “people can lose everything”.
But this is simply untrue. Social Security investments would by construction be conservative compared to other investment options already available. Any private account solutions would restrict allowable investments, similar to the way they are presently and successfully limited for IRAs, 401K and section 529 plans. Rational balanced portfolios would be a required alternative, rather than unrestricted speculation. It is often cited that a stock market crash similar to that of 2008 could decimate one’s privatized Social Security retirement — but this could not be further from the truth. Given the long multi-decade span of investing and the long span of receiving the benefits slowly after retirement, it can be shown that none of these investment strategies could ever have performed as poorly as Social Security has.
President Obama inflames the debate by making erroneous statements, but then he does not even have a better solution to propose — and he is our President. Such poor leadership exemplifies why his current approach to this monumental problem is not working. Delaying the day of reckoning makes it that much more difficult to fix the problem.