Mike Pence Sews Up 2024 GOP Nomination With Hot New Idea: 'Privatize Social Security'
Former Vice President Mike Pence hasn't yet announced he's running for president, but he's already floating some policy proposals, which proves how serious he is about a presidential run. Or at least it might have meant that in years past. In today's GOP, actual policy is kind of an afterthought, at least once you get past great ideas like banning RuPaul from schools as part of the fight against Critical Drag Race Theory.
Not that Pence is floating good policy proposals. Instead, he's brushing off a perennial favorite of "serious" conservatives: How about we privatize Social Security and partly replace it with individual savings accounts, but only for young people so older Americans might still keep voting for Republicans?
Here's video of Pence speaking at a meeting of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors in Washington DC Thursday; the video was released by Democratic trackers with the group American Bridge 21st Century. (The nice folks at Heartland Signal later noted they got their Tweet's intro wrong; the story was actually broken by Yahoo News, if you're keeping track.)
\u201cVIDEO: As first reported by @CNN, former VP Mike Pence (R) discussed one of his first policy proposals for a potential 2024 campaign at a closed-door event on Thursday: privatization of Social Security.\n\nPENCE: \u201cWe could replace the New Deal with a better deal.\u201d\u201d— Heartland Signal (@Heartland Signal) 1675636958
Speaking in front of a backdrop repeating the sponsor's initials, "NAW," Pence explained that if we really want to cut federal spending, we need to "have a conversation" about chopping Social Security and Medicare, since "entitlements" (programs that aren't discretionary spending) make up 70 percent of federal spending, and that the truth of the matter is that we absolutely must consider cutting both programs, because that is literally the only option to keep the programs solvent. Remember, when a Republican tells you we have no other choice, that means there's absolutely a better choice, as we'll mention in a moment.
Pence noted that he "was a part of it when George W. Bush proposed Social Security reform in 2005," although apparently he's forgotten that no matter how hard Bush tried to sell the idea, he couldn't persuade congressional Republicans to even introduce a bill to make it happen.
Like Bush, Pence seems to believe that the way to pass Social Security cuts would be to promise people who are already retired or close to it that the program would remain for them, and it's only those younger ingrates who'd have to deal with it. "To everyone who's got the same hair color as me, nothing's gonna change for you" but younger Americans would get "better choices," like the chance for their own retirement savings to go into the stock market and grow, or be wiped out in a market panic.
"I think it's absolutely essential that we generate leadership in this country that'll be straight with the American people, that will take us off this trajectory of massive debt that we're piling on the backs of those grandchildren" — which is a load of hooey anyway, because that's simply not how federal debt works in the first place.
Pence suggested that this fundamental betrayal of America's pension system would be a "modest reform" that would keep the program solvent, or at least make the gutting of Social Security younger folks' problem when they get close to retirement.
There are modest reforms in entitlements that can be done without disadvantaging anybody at the point of the need. [...] I think the day could come when we could replace the New Deal with a better deal. Literally give younger Americans the ability to take a portion of their Social Security withholdings and put that into a private savings account that the government would oversee.
"Replacing" the New Deal has been Republicans' top goal since it passed in 1933, so Pence at least has "tradition" going for him. He needs a snappy name for his plan, though. Maybe the Screw Deal? Probably not. Mother would disapprove.
Pence claimed that the scheme would generate two percent income on the accounts (assuming markets never crash) and double the amount of the eventual payout over the amount people currently get in Social Security, unless of course it doesn't, because in any private savings scheme, the risk is held entirely by the account holder, and the eventual payout depends on how the investments go, as the Brookings Institution explained way back in 1997:
Herbert Stein illustrates the choice by asking which of the following two options is preferable for a basic retirement plan—one that guarantees a retirement income equal to 50 percent of average earnings or one that gives a 50-50 chance of 120 percent of average earnings or nothing? The latter has a higher expected value, 60 percent of income on average. But for the basic retirement program, the sure bet of social insurance is preferable. One should not subject the mass of the public, most with few assets and therefore little capacity to withstand financial reverses, to the uncertainties inherent in individual investment accounts.
To his credit, at least Pence didn't suggest the biggest gains for seniors would come from putting the Social Security trust fund into cryptocurrency.
But again, we absolutely have to slash Social Security and Medicare to keep them from running out of money, unless we were to do something unthinkable like any of the various proposals that would increase revenues to keep both programs solvent by taxing upper-income folks. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, for instance, have introduced legislation that would both increase benefits by $200 a month and extend the programs' solvency by 75 years, by applying payroll taxes to sources of income mostly received by the very wealthy — like capital gains — that currently aren't subject to Social Security taxes.
But that would be very unfair to the super rich, and maybe they'd just decide to stop being billionaires, ever think of that, libs?
[Heartland Signal on Twitter / Yahoo News / Intercept]
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