And for that purpose, she has a question and answer drill. Let's see what happens if I answer them instead of her staff:
Would private accounts solve long term problems?
So far, all that happens is that long term problems are used as a
distraction from the question of what the retirement benefits program
should be. Social Security is a badly designed program that worked
for a while. That's ok. But that is no excuse for continuing it.
Would my "return" on a private account be better than I am liable to
get from the money sent by me and my employer to social security?
Yes. I could put it in a bank savings account and get a better
return. Would that mean that the money I saved could be borrowed
against now by Congress to fund cranberry studies programs at local
community colleges? Sadly, no: and as far as I can tell, that is the
ONLY objection to private accounts.
Would we have to increase our debt to pay for private accounts?
Yes. Of course, given the course Social security is on, we would have
to increase our debt sometime anyway. Then the only question is
whether we should borrow it now or later. Interest rates are low now:
they are unlikely to be so later. So that question is obvious.
Is it true that my benefits would be cut in half if social security is
Well, if we don't count whatever the private accounts contribute, your
benefits do, indeed, go down. Somehow that seems really obvious.
Would you like to ask something worthwhile?
OK, but I thought social security was going bankrupt. Isn't something
better than nothing?
The correct answer here is "Yes. Something is better than nothing.
There is no social security trust fund: If I owe you money, you're not
going to be impressed if I hand you a lot of IOUs that I signed for
debts I owe myself, and that's all that is there. Right now, more
money is coming in than we need for social security, so we're spending
it on everything else under the sun because we can and because no one
calls us on it. We want to keep doing this, and if we don't have to
take money away from that fund, we can. So there."
So what do we do?
Go along with President Bush's plan. Add to it as much as we can with
IRA accounts and other pension programs managed by non-governmental
employees, who might know what they are doing.
Frankly, I think I've done a better job. Care to give her a call and suggest she try again?