A Constitutional Amendment - The Only Way To Truly Preserve Social Security
By Rep. Michael H. Michaud
As Congress returns to Washington to start a new year, the Administration and Congressional Leadership are expected to advance new initiatives to privatize the Social Security system.
This has been proposed before-it remains a bad idea. Privatization of Social Security does not make sense and it is not what this country's current and future retirees need.
There are at least two major problems with privatizing the system. First, unlike the current Social Security system, private individual accounts cannot provide income that is free from the risks of the stock market. Under privatization, benefits would no longer be determined primarily by a worker's earnings, but rather by fluctuations in the stock market. There are inevitably some winners, but also many losers in this process.
What if our nation's seniors had depended on investments in technology stocks, accounting companies, or Enron for their retirement? What would have happened to them in the past three years? Privatization will lead us to a system where some will invest well, but many will lose their retirement savings and be left with no security at all. This is not the purpose of the Social Security system.
Second, privatization does not solve any of Social Security's funding challenges-it actually makes them worse. We all know that Social Security needs to be strengthened in the future, but its current resources will still last for decades to come-through 2041 by recent estimates.
However, by diverting billions from the Social Security Trust Funds, privatization would actually bring on a funding crisis decades earlier than projected under the status quo. And that's just what the privatizers want-an excuse to end the system. Under privatization, the entire system would be in jeopardy, which would certainly affect today's retirees and older workers.
So seniors should not be fooled. Advocates of privatization say that their plans will help them, but this is exactly how Congressional leaders passed the Medicare bill-by promising "reforms" and offering sweeteners that sounded good. But the truth is clear-the real plan is to end Social Security, and a lot of retirees and future retirees will be hurt in the process.
Retirement income needs to be safeguarded, it needs to be free from market fluctuations, and it needs to be guaranteed. The essential promise of retirement security needs to be turned into an ironclad guarantee.
In order to provide such a guarantee, I have authored a Constitutional Amendment that preserves Social Security. My Amendment guarantees that there will always be Social Security, that the benefits promised will keep pace with the cost of living, and that they will never be reduced.
The Amendment would also prevent the privatization of the Social Security system, while ensuring that money put into the system stays there and is not subject to more government raids.
It deserves to be said that I am generally very skeptical of new constitutional amendments. But the Congress has made "promises" before. We have heard of lockboxes, firewalls, and certificates. These "promises" have all been broken. While I believe it is a rare issue that requires new constitutional protection, this is one-and this is the only way that Americans will know for sure that Social Security will be there, and that their benefits are secure.
I am determined to protect Social Security for our workers, our children and our grandchildren. This is a promise that we have made in the past to our seniors, and that is already made to today's workers. It needs to be kept.