Presidential Candidates’ Views on Social Security

November 29, 2007

Jeanne Sahadi at CNN Money has compiled a list of the various positions that candidates from both primaries have taken on the issue of Social Security. Here’s the introduction:

Among the many promises being made by the 2008 candidates for president, fixing Social Security is getting increasing play on the campaign stump.

The Social Security program, funded by taxes on workers’ wages, currently takes in more than it has promised to pay out. But in large part because the number of workers to retirees will shrink, the system if left unchanged won’t be able to pay out all of the benefits promised to future retirees.

By 2017, the revenue coming in will be less than the benefits promised. The government will make up the difference by paying back the money it credited to the program’s trust fund over the years when it borrowed the surplus taxes paid into Social Security.

Come 2041, the trust fund will be tapped out and in-coming funds are projected to cover only 75 percent of promised benefits.

Unfortunately, no candidate has answered the first and foremost question — what is the purpose of the Social Security program? Is it a retirement system? It is designed to be an insurance program or safety net? Answering this question gets at the root of the issue and allows one to build future policy that is aimed to achieve such a purpose for the program.

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