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More headlines: George W. Bush on Social Security

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)


Gore’s plan requires taxes: “Social Security Plus Huge Debt”

Q: What is your Social Security plan?

GORE: I will keep it in a lockbox. The interest savings, I would put right back into it. That extends the life for 55 years. I am opposed to a plan that diverts 1 out of every 6 dollars away from the Trust Fund. It would go bankrupt within this generation.

BUSH: We want to allow younger workers to take some of their own money & put it in safe investments so that $1 trillion grows to $3 trillion. The money stays within the system.

GORE: I give a new incentive for younger workers to invest their own money. My plan is “Social Security Plus.” The governor’s plan is “Social Security Minus.” Your future benefits would be cut by the amount that’s diverted into the stock market. And if you make bad investments, that’s too bad.

BUSH: Your plan is “Social Security Plus Huge Debt.” If we don’t trust younger workers to manage some of their own money, it’s going to be impossible to bridge the gap without causing huge payroll taxes or major benefit reductions.

Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

No specifics like: What age? What percentage?

[Bush’s Social Security proposal] largely skirted specifics, preferring to talk about broad principles. It was unclear, for instance, exactly how much money people could set aside for individual accounts and what sort of investment options they would have. Asked about his lack of detail, Bush called his speech “pretty darn detailed to be talking about a framework to get something done.” His aides said that he had avoided specifics because Hillary Rodham Clinton’s abortive effort to craft a plan for universal health coverage had shown that being locked into one plan was a recipe for legislative disaster on a complicated issue.

But the lack of specifics on matters like what percentage of payroll tax would go to accounts, and what age group would see the change, opened Bush to charges that he was masking some of the hard choices ahead and trying to sidestep questions about how he could afford the transition. The cost of transition could be as much as $1 trillion.

Source: New York Times, p. A18 May 16, 2000

Private accounts for youth rather than high payroll taxes

Bush detailed his plan to create private savings accounts to allow individuals who pay into the Social Security system an opportunity to make a little extra through targeted investments. “Our government will establish basic standards of safety and soundness. There will be no fly-by-night speculators,” Bush vowed. “The overall stock market has never lost money over any 20-year period,” he continued. “It is the best and safest way to build personal wealth.” Bush also pledged a continuation of current benefits for those at or near retirement. He also described portions of his plan calling for “lock box” payroll taxes intended to prohibit borrowing against the Social Security trust fund; a refusal to increase the current 12.4% payroll tax used to keep the trust fund solvent; and preservation of the system’s current provision to pay benefits to widows, widowers and the disabled.
Source: CNN.com report from Rancho Cucamonga, CA May 15, 2000

Personal responsibility will save Social Security

Bush said Friday he will propose changes in the Social Security system because it’s time to “think differently” about providing for Americans’ retirement. Bush has publicly endorsed efforts by John McCain and other Senators to form a bipartisan panel to review differing approaches-including private investment accounts-aimed at shoring up Social Security. Bush hinted Friday that his plan will include personal savings accounts, “so younger workers will be able to have a retirement system in the future.”
Source: CNN.com May 12, 2000

Use political capital to implement private savings accounts

Bush responded to Gore’s [plan for mothers and widows] by reasserting his support for private savings accounts and said he would use the political capital necessary to reform the system while Gore would not. “I can’t think of a better reform than allowing women to manage their own personal savings accounts, particularly younger workers in our society,” Bush said. “It is the status quo in the administration that does not try to reform Social Security versus ad administration that will put capital on the line to make sure that the Social Security system is available in the long run,“ he continued. Bush has yet to detail a Social Security reform plan but has said it will be based on the principle that workers should have the right to invest part of their payroll taxes in private savings accounts. He also ruled out further increases in the retirement age.
Source: Dan Balz, Washington Post, p. A8 Apr 5, 2000

No reduction of benefits for retirees & those near it

Bush: Our greatest generation deserves our greatest respect. This begins by keeping our word.
Narrator: Governor Bush will save & strengthen Social Security. His plan is clear-no reduction of benefits for retirees & those nearing retirement.
Bush: Respecting seniors also means respecting their abilities. The law should not hinder seniors from making their own choices.
Narrator: Conservative values and a fresh start for America.
Source: Television advertisement in NH Jan 13, 2000

Give Americans more freedom to manage their social security

Social Security is a solemn commitment, and we must preserve its guarantee.. Social Security money should only go to Social Security, not to other programs, and Social Security taxes should not be increased. I oppose government investment of Social Security funds in private stocks or bonds and believe we should trust individual Americans by giving them the option of placing part of their Social Security contributions into personal retirement accounts.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.238-239 Dec 9, 1999

Keep promise to retirees but consider raising retirement age

We need to take all the payroll taxes aiming for Social Security and dedicate it to only Social Security. We need personal savings accounts for younger workers. We’re going to keep our solemn commitment to people who’ve retired regarding benefits. I definitely wouldn’t [raise the benefit age] on people near retirement. I hope we’re able to keep the benefits the same for younger workers, as well. But the key thing is to have a leader to bring people together to solve the Social Security system.
Source: New Hampshire GOP Debates Dec 3, 1999

Backs private accounts for Security contributions

Bush backed the idea of putting Social Security contributions in private accounts, but he didn’t provide details.
Source: Boston Sunday Globe p. A-22 Jun 13, 1999

Supports subsidized Medicare menu with means testing

On Medicare, Bush said he was attracted to the plan drafted by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.). Bush said. “[I find attractive] the idea of having a basket of opportunity with premiums subsidized at the federal level, based on means testing.” Bush also said, “The Breaux plan didn’t cut benefits.” But then he acknowledged that the plan did recommend raising the age of eligibility for Medicare.
Source: (cross-ref to Health Care) Dan Balz, The Washington Post Apr 25, 1999

Lock-box yes; tax increase no; bipartisanship yes.

Bush has a sense of the direction his Social Security reform plan would take, but nonetheless said repeatedly that the next president will have to forge a bipartisan consensus to be successful on that front. “I approve of the lock boxing the Social Security money,” he said, referring to plans to prohibit spending the anticipated Social Security surpluses on other programs. “I don’t believe we ought to have a tax increase to make the plan whole.”
Source: Dan Balz, The Washington Post Apr 25, 1999

Tax-funded private IRA’s under federal guidelines

“I like the idea of individual retirement accounts, in essence private accounts.” Bush said he would fund those accounts with a portion of the payroll tax paid by all workers, which would be invested under government-drafted guidelines. “You can’t put it in one oil well,” he said. Bush added, however, that he has not decided how much of the tax to divert to these mandatory accounts. “Therein lies the rub,” he said.
Source: Dan Balz, The Washington Post Apr 25, 1999

Other candidates on Social Security: George W. Bush on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney

Republican Possibilities:
George Allen
Jeb Bush
Bill Frist
Rudy Giuliani
John McCain
Mitt Romney

Democratic Possibilities:
Evan Bayh
Hillary Clinton
Howard Dean
John Edwards
Russ Feingold
Al Gore
John Kerry
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
Mark Warner

Third Party Possibilities:
Ralph Nader
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