Paul Ryan on Social Security
Republican nominee for Vice President; U.S. Rep. (WI-1)
RYAN: Not really. We always got close to balancing the budget, but, not quite there. We don't have to do much simply because the new CBO baseline makes it easier, because the new baseline reflects the fiscal cliff, which is higher revenues and lower spending, making it easier to balance. We ask all federal employees to have their pension contributions like those in the private sector. We think we owe the American people a balanced budget.
Q: You include the $600 billion in tax increases, that came from raising rates in the fiscal cliff debate. You also include $716 billion in Medicare cuts through ObamaCare that you opposed. Is it fair to say at least those parts of the president's policies make it easier to balance the budget?
RYAN: It is fair to say that. What we also say is, end the raid of Medicare from ObamaCare. And we don't want to refight the fiscal cliff.
(Videotape) OBAMA: The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Social Security, these things do not make us a nation of takers.
RYAN: Right now, according to the tax foundation, between 60% and 70% of Americans get more federal benefits than they pay in taxes. So we're getting toward a society where we have a net majority of takers versus makers. (End videotape)
Q: Still true?
RYAN: We don't want a dependency culture; we want a safety net. When I cite that statistic, the point is, people want the American Dream. They want lives of opportunity. We want to make sure that we don't continue that trend. No one is suggesting that Medicare and Social Security makes you a taker.
Q: But you're citing figures that include entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
RYAN: When these statistics get cited, it leads you to think that America is gone, that we're becoming too much of a dependent culture. And my point is, that's not the whole picture.
RYAN: For younger people. What we said then and what I've always agreed is let younger Americans have a voluntary choice of making their money work faster for them within the Social Security system.
BIDEN: You saw how well that worked.
RYAN: That's not what Mitt Romney's proposing. What we're saying is no changes for anybody 55 and above. And then the kinds of the changes we're talking about for younger people like myself is don't increase the benefits for wealthy people as fast as everybody else, and slowly raise the retirement age over time.
BIDEN: All the studies show that if we went with Social Security proposal made by Mitt Romney, if you're in your 40s now, you will get $2,600 a year less in Social Security. If you're in your 20s now, you get $4,700 a year less. It is absolutely the wrong way.
I have proposed giving younger workers the voluntary option to invest over 1/3 of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts. These benefits will become the property of the individual, which can be passed onto their heirs. These voluntary retirement accounts also have built-in safeguards to minimize risk--with a guaranteed minimum benefit, while still allowing for growth far above the chronically low rates of return in our current system. The real risk to individuals contributing to Social Security comes in the form of those clinging to the status quo. If we do not place Social Security on sound financial footing now, there will be painful adjustments in the years ahead. My proposal would make Social Security permanently solvent.
Despite all the accolades, Paul Ryan had functioned as little more than policy arm candy for his party. His Social Security lock box proposal had gone nowhere in the Republican-controlled House. Instead of reducing the federal deficit, as Ryan had advocated, the Bush administration opted for sizable tax cuts. Ryan had been among the few GOP House members to enthusiastically promote Bush's Social Security semiprivatization scheme and was chagrined to see his colleagues "hit the brakes" on the president's proposal, while Ryan described himself as "obviously a gas=pedal guy."
The collapse of Social Security reform is one of the greatest disappointments of my presidency. Despite our efforts, the government ended up doing exactly what I had warned against: We kicked the problem down the road to the next generation. In retrospect, I'm not sure what I could have done differently.
I made the case for reform as widely & persuasively as I could. The failure of Social Security reform shows the limits of the president's power. If Congress is determined not to act, there is only so much a president can do
The problem, in a nutshell is this: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, three giant entitlements, are out of control. Expanding costs will drive our federal government and national economy to collapse.
The bill introduced in Congress by Paul Ryan serves as a comprehensive model of how to structure such accounts. That bill maintains the current social safety net in full by including a federal guarantee that if any retiree's account cannot pay at least what Social Security would under current law, the federal government would pay the difference. Because capital market returns are so much higher than what Social Security promises, however, it's unlikely the government would ever have to pay off this guarantee.
Initially younger workers will be allowed to invest only 2% of their first $10,000 of annual income into their personal accounts and 1% of all income above $10,000. Eventually, (by the time my children retire), workers will be able to invest 5.1 percentage points (nearly half) of the 12.4% that they and their employers now contribute to Social Security.
The Road Map plan guarantees no worker will ever receive less from Social Security than is now promised under the current system. There will be no risk to workers who choose to save for their own future rather than retire as dependents of the government.
Suppose that workers were free to save and invest, in their own personal accounts, up to roughly 50% of what they currently pay in payroll taxes. Employers would contribute the same amount to their workers' personal accounts out of the payroll taxes they currently pay on behalf of their employees. This plan was proposed in a bill by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. John Sununu (R-NH). Lower income workers would be allowed to invest a slightly higher percentage of what they currently pay in payroll taxes, and higher-income workers a little less.
If a personal account pays more than the Social Security benefits it replaces, [the taxpayer] gets to keep the gain. If the account is insufficient to pay for all the benefits it replaces, the government pays the difference.
The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Scoring system for 2014: Ranges from 0% (supports privatization and other market-based reforms) to 100% (supports keeping federal control over Trust Fund and Social Security system).
About ARA (from their website, www.RetiredAmericans.org):
The Alliance for Retired Americans is a nationwide organization, founded in May 2001, with now over 4.2 million members working together to make their voices heard in the laws, policies, politics, and institutions that shape our lives. The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security.
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