NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 3, 2008

In 2008, more than 50 million Americans will receive nearly $614 billion in Social Security benefits, and nine out of 10 individuals age 65 or older receive benefits.  The basic problem facing Social Security is that the number of workers compared to retirees has begun to shrink, so there are fewer workers to support each retiree than there used to be, says ThomasNet.

That is why both presidential contenders are proposing dramatic changes to Social Security.  But aside from both candidates agreeing that adjustments to the system are necessary and pledging to work across parties, each candidate is offering a different vision for solving the current and future financial problems of Social Security, says ThomasNet.

Under McCain's plan:

  • He is open to personal accounts, or partial privatization, as options for younger people.
  • According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, John McCain's reform proposal would provide younger workers the option of putting a portion of their earnings into personal savings accounts in return for reduce future benefits from the Social Security system.
  • McCain's particular proposal on reforming Medicare is to lower premiums for seniors while also reducing the growth of spending on Medicare.

Under Obama's plan:

  • He has said that "privatization tears the fabric of Social Security…by subjecting a secure retirement to the whims of the market, and that is not an acceptable way to strengthen this program."
  • He does not support uncapping the full payroll tax of 12.4 percent; however, he recently said he would shore up the system by raising taxes on higher earners.
  • Obama's plan places emphasis on reducing waste in Medicare, including "eliminating subsidies to the private Insurance Medicare Advantage program."

Nevertheless, both candidates vow to improve the quality of care, whether through "preserving the advancements in medical science" (McCain) or "protecting seniors from fraud" (Obama), says ThomasNet.

Source: David R. Butcher, "Where the Candidates Stand on Social Security," ThomasNet (Industrial News Room), September 30, 2008; Analysis, "Social Security Reform and The Election: NCPA Analysis of Republican and Democrat Social Security Reform Proposals," National Center for Policy Analysis, 2008.

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