A Pretend Good Point On Social Security

by Stephen Spruiell

The president fielded a question on Social Security today at an event in Ohio:

Mr. Obama responded, to light applause, “I have been adamant in saying that Social Security should not be privatized and will not be privatized as long as I’m president.”

He said Social Security is supposed to be a “rock solid” and secure floor for people to tap when they have retired. He dismissed the notion of privatizing Social Security, saying, “Imagine if Social Security, if a portion of that, had been in the stock market back in 2006 and 2007?”

First of all, the only plans that were on the table in 2005 called for changes to the way Social Security works for young people, not the near-retirement crowd. Young people would have seen their accounts fall in value, but they’ve got a ways to go, and over the long run stocks are about as good an investment as anything. Second, most of the private-account plans I’ve seen involve the gradual transfer of savings from stocks to safer assets as retirement nears, to account for stock-market volatility and risk-aversion.

On the other hand, the president gets points for using the phrase “newfangled schemes” to appeal to the older demographics. They’re going to take some winning back, particularly the ones he alienated when his health-care bill fangled Medicare.

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