Focus Point - A Missed Chance On Social Security

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. President Bush wants to fix the doomed social security system, but the senate once tried to save him the trouble.

A little-remembered historical incident is reported in, "The Crisis In Social Security," by economist Carol Weaver. In 1935, Missouri democrat Bennett Champ clark proposed an amendment to the first social security bill, arguing that if the goal was to see that everyone received adequate retirement income, it didn't matter whether it was provided by government or the private sector.

He proposed if an employer provided his employees with a pension at least as good as social security, they wouldn't have to pay social security taxes. The Clark Amendment passed the senate 51-35. The Roosevelt Administration killed in it conference committee.

Say Dr. Weaver, by forcing competition, the government would have to have maintained a sound program. At least the Clark Amendment made clear the redistributive nature of the social security scheme.

Nothing's changed in 66 years. It's just that now, we have a chance to fix it.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, give MSAs a chance.