NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 17, 2005

President Bush proposes reforming Social Security with personally owned market accounts to which working people could contribute 4 percent of their income that now goes to Social Security payroll taxes.

Critics contend that personal accounts "are too risky" or "they're a gamble," yet such models already exist in the marketplace, says Pete du Pont, chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis:

  • The government's Thrift Savings Plan allows government employees to contribute up to $12,000 each year into a personal account; three and a half million people have chosen to do so and own real retirement assets.
  • There are public employee pension plans -- more than 100 of them -- which control more than $2 trillion in assets; the biggest is the California Public Employees Retirement Fund, containing $149 billion (their collective assets are invested 55 percent in corporate stock equities, 36 percent in bonds, and the remainder in cash).
  • Then there is AARP, which offers its 35 million members a choice of 38 investment funds -- stocks, bonds, small-cap, large-cap, foreign and domestic funds of all shapes and sizes.

What is interesting about these investments is that many of the organizations offering them and individuals participating in them are the staunchest opponents of allowing the rest of Americans to create similar accounts within Social Security, says du Pont.

Ultimately the argument isn't about investment accounts, or stocks or bonds or "gambling" or "insecurity." It is about socialism versus individualism, says du Pont. Moreover, he says, today's very liberal Democrats view the government's Social Security system as socialism's last redoubt, and therefore, it must be preserved at all costs.

Source: Pete du Pont, "Socialism's Last Redoubt: Why do Dems oppose Social Security reform? Because they're committed to government control.", February 16, 2005.

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