Mitt Romney on Social Security

Former Republican Governor (MA)

Rein in the excessive growth in entitlement programs

The Bush revolution and the downturn that we faced when he came in office suggested that we needed a tax cut. There’s no question in my mind that Reagan would have said sign it and vote for it. McCain was one of two that did not. The justification at the time was because it represents a tax cut for the rich. I believe in getting rates down. That builds our economy. Right now, federal spending is about 60% for entitlements: Social security, Medicare and Medicaid. That’s growing like crazy. It will be 70% entitlements, plus interest, by the time of the next president’s second term. Then the military is about 20% today. No one is talking about cutting the military, we ought to grow it. There’s not enough in the 20% to go after if we don’t go after the entitlement problem. We’re going to rein in the excessive growth in those areas. We’re not going to change the deal on seniors, but we’re going to have to change the deal for 20 and 30 and 40-year-olds, or we’re going to bankrupt our country.
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

Will try to fix Social Security without raising taxes

Q: Will you do for Social Security what Reagan did in 1983?

A: I’m not going to raise taxes. Not only are you taking money away from their pocketbooks, you’re also slowing down the economy. You slow down the economy, more people lose work. More people lose work, of course, you’re having a lot of folks that really have their lives turned upside down. So, raising taxes is just something you don’t want to do. We’re going to have to sit down with the Democrats and say, let’s have a compromise on these three elements that could get us to bring Social Security into economic balance. You can have personal accounts where people can invest in something that does better than government bonds--with some portion of their Social Security. We’re going to have the initial benefit calculations for wealthier Americans calculated based on the Consumer Price Index rather than the wage index. That saves almost two-thirds of the shortfall. You can change the retirement age. You can push it out a little bit.

Source: 2008 GOP debate in Boca Raton Florida Jan 24, 2008

No FICA for workers over age 65, so they can stay working

Something I’m particularly fond of [in my economic stimulus package]: it says for anybody in the workforce 65 and older, neither the company nor the individual is going to have to pay Social Security payroll taxes -- FICA, if you will.

And by virtue of that elimination, you’re going to have more people stay in the workforce. That’s going to help grow our economy. They’re not going to be paying any Social Security or Medicare taxes anymore, no more payroll taxes.

Source: 2008 Fox News interview: “Choosing the President” series Jan 20, 2008

Favors private accounts; prepared to be entirely bold

Romney said he “was prepared to be entirely bold,” in taking on the politically perilous issue of entitlement spending, “but I’m not prepared to cut benefits for low-income Americans.” He said he favored private accounts and would consider tying Social Security benefits to prices rather than wages for higher income Americans. Romney said “effective leadership that brings people from both sides of the aisle together” could solve the problem of escalating costs for Medicare and Medicaid.
Source: Bloomberg.com report on 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando Oct 21, 2007

Private accounts work better than extending retirement age

I’m not prepared to cut benefits for low-income Americans. We’re going to make sure that we protect these programs for our seniors. Currently, we’re taking more money into Social Security that we actually send out. So our current seniors, their benefits are not going to change. For people 20 and 30 and 40 years old, we have four major options for Social Security.
  1. The one Democrats want: raise taxes. It’s the wrong way to go.
  2. The president said let’s have private accounts and take that surplus money that’s being gathered now in Social Security and put that into private accounts. That works.
  3. Other people said, well, extend the retirement age. That mathematically works. It’s not as attractive.
  4. And the last is to index the Social Security benefits, the first benefit, to something other than wages, which is what it has always been. But, in my view, that’s the wrong way to go, other than for higher-income Americans. Let’s consider indexing based on prices rather than wages.
Source: 2007 GOP primary debate in Orlando, Florida Oct 21, 2007

Reform entitlements by negotiating behind closed doors

Romney says it’s time to reform the two major entitlement programs: Social Security and Medicare. “It’s really not possible for us to remain a superpower without restructuring our entitlements programs,” Romney says. Romney says leaders from both political parties will have to come up with a solution in private. “Sitting down, quietly, behind closed doors and having a full and complete discussion of various ways to bring the costs down and to keep it from getting out of control,” Romney says.
Source: Radio Iowa, “Romney: reform”, by O.Kay Henderson Aug 25, 2006

Honor expectations of recipients, but take action for future

Romney says “statesmen” from both political parties should sit down and “say honestly: ‘What can we do?’” to fix Social Security. Romney says the solution should “make sure that we honor the expectations” of those who are already getting Social Security and those who are about to get regular Social Security checks from the government, while at the same time ensuring the system will be solvent when the 30- and 40-year-olds of today reach retirement age.
Source: Radio Iowa, “Romney: reform”, by O.Kay Henderson Aug 25, 2006

Other candidates on Social Security: Mitt Romney on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010