Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why the Bush plan to privatize part of Social Security was bad. It would add too much to the deficit

Glad the Bush Social Security plan is dead. It's really old news, but I did hear these ideas come up again on a radio talk show. Most people criticize it for other reasons, but my main problem with the Bush Social Security plan was the added deficit it would create.

The plan would have allowed young people to divert part of their Social Security taxes away from the Social Security trust fund and into private retirement accounts. This would mean that during a long transition period, money would have to be borrowed to pay full Social Security benefits to people over a certain age who would still be retiring under the old system. Borrowing, even just for the transition period, would be quite hefty.

I'm glad that plan is not really being discussed that often anymore. That plan came out before 2008 when it looked like America was such a "safe haven" for money that we could borrow for everything. Borrow for the wars, borrow for the Bush prescription drug benefit.

The crash of 2008 spooked people. Most folks were spooked about relying on private investments for retirement savings, but more importantly, in my book, the national debt started ballooning more after 2008. Many private investments have recovered (so far at least) while the debt is still mounting.

I'll admit part of the ballooning of the debt was Obama's stimulus package. With this much debt from so many sources, the added borrowing for "transitioning" Social Security looks real foolhardy today.

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