Former governor of Massachusetts
"Take some of that money, or all of that surplus money, and allow people to have a personal account, so they can invest in things that have a higher rate of return than just government debt...Personal accounts would be a big plus."
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S4 intern Megan caught up with Governor Romney at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, on June 5th, 2007, and had the opportunity to have a conversation with him regarding young workers and Social Security:
S4: Governor Romney, I'm a member of a student-run grassroots organization, Students for Saving Social Security, and we're working very hard to get some Social Security reform. I'd like to know on behalf of our members in all 50 states, what's your position on implementing Social Security reform that allows ownership and choice for the younger generations, specifically personal retirement accounts?
Romney: This is wonderful. Thank you. Isn't that wonderful to have a young person caring about Social Security?
And young people really ought to care about Social Security.
Our seniors are fine right now in terms of Social Security because there's actually more money going into Social Security every year than is actually paid out. So our seniors, who are either seniors or coming along to be seniors soon, they're fine. Social Security is robust, it has plenty of money.
The concern, which most young people haven't thought about, is what happens when our twenty- and thirty- and forty-year-olds come along? What do the numbers look like then? At that point, there's far less money going into Social Security than is needed to come out. And of course, we could have had money there, but we've been taking all the extra money out every year. The Washington guys -- I said Washington is broken -- they've been taking all the extra money that goes in every year, and they've been spending it on government programs. They haven't been building a trust fund that would, as you know, allow Social Security to deal with the needs of our younger people as they come along.
So what to do? Well, one thing that the president proposed and is a good idea, is to take some of that money, or all of that surplus money, and allow people to have a personal account, so they can invest in things that have a higher rate of return than just government debt. They can invest in things like our stock market or the world stock market or whatever, so that they can get a better return, and maybe that would make up for some of the shortfall. That's a good idea.
What the Democrats would like to do is simply raise taxes, and their answer almost all the time is just to raise taxes. The problem with raising taxes is, one, it doesn't feel good, of course, particularly if you're the one whose taxes are raised. Number two, it takes money out of the free economy, where money is used to propel growth and investment, and it puts it in the government, and when the government invests money or spends money it does not have the same impact on our vitality and growth as when people invest their own money. And so raising taxes is not the answer, and so I agree with you. Personal accounts would be a big plus.
There are other measures they're going to look at -- they'll look at retirement age, they'll look at different rates of inflation for the initial benefit under Social Security, but we do need to have reform in the system so it doesn't overwhelm our finances down the road, and so we can honor the obligation we make to twenty-year-olds, thirty-year-olds and forty-year-olds coming along. Social Security will be for them, as well. Thank you very much.
Statements on Reform
- "[P]erhaps some in the room don't recognize this, but for people right now, when you get your Social Security initial benefit, it's not inflated with the price index -- it's inflated with a much higher index: the wage index. And if you just change the index from the wage index to the CPI that we're so used to, that we all talk about, that would pretty much solve the problem of our Social Security burden.
You could also extend the retirement age and then there are personal accounts and a lot of folks have said, 'You know, we have a Social Security surplus right now. Why are we using that money to fund the government? Why don't we allow that money to be used to fund things like personal accounts and there could be other sources for personal accounts as well -- voluntary, personal accounts.'
So we've got some options there. I want to hear what the Democrats have to say, but it's critical for us to recognize number one on their list is not on our list, and we have to make sure that the others are places that we turn to finally rein in Social Security."
- Romney remarks at the Club For Growth, Palm Beach, FL, March 29, 2007
- "Aides say Romney is also intrigued by the ideas of Democrat Robert Pozen, chairman of Boston-based MFS Investment Management and a member of Bush's 2001 Social Security Commission. Pozen's 'progressive indexation' plan would maintain the current Social Security benefit formula for the poor while providing gradual benefit reductions for wealthier individuals. People who receive reduced benefits would be able to put as much as 2 percent of their pay into private investment accounts."
- Bloomberg, February 7, 2007
- February 04th, 2008 - Super Tuesday...make sure you vote today!
- January 25th, 2008 - Romney and personal accounts
- January 08th, 2008 - S4 in Wall Street Journal
- October 22nd, 2007 - Republican Candidates Back Personal Accounts
- September 01st, 2007 - Economic Equality for the Fairer Sex
- August 13th, 2007 - S4 Rocks the Iowa Straw Poll
- July 25th, 2007 - Serious Social Security reform is in the hands of New Hampshire's primary voters
- June 13th, 2007 - S4 Talks to Mitt Romney
- June 07th, 2007 - Romney supports PRA's
- January 29th, 2007 - Keeping an Ear to the Ground
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