Cato Institute on Social Security



"Social Security choice" is better than "privatization"

The word 'privatization' has been part of the Social Security debate for many years and has been used by many Republicans. The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington and an advocate of the idea, used to call its effort 'the project on Social Security privatization.'"

Michael Tanner, director of that project, agrees that the Democrats are using the word because they think it's scarier but said he thinks the Republicans are wrong to reply with "a silly, semantic argument. Republicans like to say they're a little bit for privatization, [until] the Democrats attack them." Instead, he suggests, Republicans should defend the position that individual accounts are the best way to save Social Security. Cato has a fresh poll that Tanner said shows that when the issue is properly framed, a majority of Americans favor individual accounts. Still, he said, word choices are important. So Cato recently changed the name of the program to "the project on Social Security choice."

Source: Democratic Senate Campaign Committee press release , Jun 11, 2013

Changed term "privatization" to "choice" in 2002

For a decade, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute has been an omnipresent champion of private accounts. In February of 2005, Tanner was thrilled by the White house's commitment to the fight.

Tanner was enough of a team player to change the name of the Cato Institute's "Project on Social Security Privatization" to the more politically palatable "Project on Social Security Choice" in 2002. Tanner let his guard down about what this was really all about: "In the end, this isn't a debate about the system's solvency in 2018 or 2042. It's about whether you think the government should be in control of your retirement or people should take ownership and responsibility. Our position is that people need to be responsible for their own lives."

Source: The Truth (with jokes), by Al Franken, p.207-208 , Oct 25, 2005

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Page last updated: Apr 30, 2021