By O. Kay Henderson
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann says current retirees should continue to get the Social Security benefits they were promised, but younger workers should be allowed to invest their Social Security taxes in a private account.
"Under no conditions can we possibly alter the Social Security terms right now for those who are on it, but for those who are not yet at 65, we also have to be very brutally honest and tell people we can't pay out the same level of benefits that we have been for people currently on the program," she says.
Critics of what they call "privatizing" Social Security argue many seniors would have seen their retirement savings evaporate in the Wall Street meltdown. Bachmann argues that Americans will be "far better off" if they manage their own retirement savings, rather than relying on the government-managed Social Security system, which she says amounts to theft.
"That's been really the lie that government has given to people, that you have money somehow in a mysterious account in Washington. Well, poof. The sad news the money's not there. It's gone. Government reached in and stole it," Bachmann says. "For future retirees, let's change the system so that we are no longer funding big government and the welfare state. Instead, let's fund ourselves so government can't touch our money."
Bachmann says if younger workers get to invest their own Social Security taxes, they can pass that chunk of money on when they die.
"We do need to set up a system of ownership where people have title in their Social Security, so that in case something happens to them, their beneficiaries, their loved ones will own their benefits," Bachmann says. "That isn't the way it is today."
Bachmann made her comments on November 4 during a 20-minute interview organized by AARP. Three other candidates also taped segments for the series which was broadcast statewide on Mediacom's last night. AARP's "Video Voters Guide" program is now available on Mediacom's "on demand" channel.