Lets hear it for AARP. The huge and powerful lobbying organization for seniors has taken the offensive in attacking ideas to privatize Social Security. And none too soon.
The Bush administration already has begun its own marketing salvo, trumpeting the idea that a crisis in Social Security is imminent and that the system is in need of an immediate fix.
Besides wanting workers to be able to set aside a certain amount of their contributions for private accounts, the administration has not offered any definite indication yet of what it plans to push for in the way of change, although many things have been circulating in news reports. But this is a familiar tactic. Create a crisis (it can be done out of whole cloth) and then come forward with your preordained plan to deal with your self-created crisis. Its like weapons of mass destruction all over again. And like them, no amount of searching will turn up an imminent crisis in Social Security.
What will turn up is a deliberate distorted reading of numbers to create a steamroller effect.
Among the assorted ideas floated in the news: that transition costs of up to $2 trillion would be borrowed to finance the change to a privatized system and that this would pay for itself at some point much further down the line; that benefits wont be cut; that taxes wont be raised; that payouts from privatized accounts will be much fatter than what the government pays now.
All of this has simply one goal: sow seeds of doubt about a much-loved government program in the mind of the public and turn different generations against each other with the aim of restructuring the program.
Meanwhile, AARP is not waiting. In full-page ads it says: “WINNERS & LOSERS are stock market terms. Do you really want them to become retirement terms?
“Lets not turn Social Security into Social Insecurity. While the program needs to be strengthened, private accounts that take money out of Social Security are not the answer and will hurt all generations. There are places in your retirement planning for risk, but Social Security isnt one of them. Call your legislators and urge them to oppose private accounts that put Social Security at risk.”
There are less reckless ways of solving whatever problems Social Security may have than beginning to dismantle it through the creation of private accounts.