Social Security has been a hot issue this Presidential Primary campaign and now that the field has been narrowed to two in either party (though John McCain has pretty much sewed up the Republican nomination), it makes sense to take a look at what the candidates’ positions are on Social Security. CNN has a recap of their positions and they are:
Hillary Clinton: Opposes all efforts to privatize Social Security. Has stated her plan for Social Security is fiscal responsibility first, and then deal with any long-term challenges. Would support the creation of a bipartisan commission.
Barack Obama: Strongly opposed to privatizing Social Security. Believes that the first place to look for ways to strengthen Social Security is the payroll tax system. Currently, the Social Security payroll tax applies to only the first $97,500 a worker earns; Obama supports increasing the maximum amount of earnings covered by Social Security. Would work with Congress to choose a payroll tax reform package that will keep Social Security solvent for at least the next half century.
Mike Huckabee: Would eliminate all federal income and payroll taxes, including Social Security. The program would be funded by the Fair Tax. Advocates the “personalization” of Social Security funds, allowing a person greater freedom over how to invest the money.
John McCain: When asked about Social Security during a GOP debate, he stated: “Every man, woman and child in America needs to know it’s going broke, and we’ve got to do the hard things. We’ve got to fix it for the future generations of Americans … It’s got to be bipartisan. And you have to go to the American people and say we won’t raise your taxes. We need personal savings accounts, but we [have] to fix this system.”
Luckily both party’s candidates recognize that Social Security, in its current form, needs to be revised to remain a solvent entity. The Democrats are opposed to privatization but Hillary Clinton only speaks about creating a commission and thinking about it. Barack Obama has a much more clearly detailed plan, one that actually raises payroll taxes on wage earners and would be an actual concrete change that could help Social Security survive.
On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee’s adherence to the Fair Tax is admirable but leaves much to be desired in terms of actually fixing Social Security. Privatization may work but it’s something that requires additional analysis. John McCain, however, appears content to simply repeat the fact that the system is broken. While I respect John McCain’s history and acumen, I find his response to be lacking.
Of course this is all based on CNN’s interpretation and collection of the facts, I didn’t visit each candidates site to read more in depth as to their position on the issue. Given this cursory examination, I would trust Barack Obama to lead us to a point where we can honestly claim Social Security is “fixed.”