Paul Ryan Attacked For Leading Social Security To The 21st Century

Two years ago, Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee, proposed a plan that would allow workers to divert one-third of their Social Security taxes into private retirement accounts, akin to what they can do with their 401(k) dollars. The Left is prepared to attack him on this, sensing an opportunity to bring back an issue they used with great effect in the 2006 mid-term elections that saw the Democrats regain power.

“The very last thing we ought to be doing is putting at risk the retirement security of millions of America’s seniors,” said Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman, who heads the Democratic National Committee. Of course Ryan’s plan doesn’t do that, while Wasserman defends a system that hinders the financial prospects of the very people she purports to represent.

Paul Ryan's Social Security reform builds a bridge from the system's noble foundations to the 21st century

In spite of the stock market’s recent volatility, no one seriously considers the Social Security Trust Fund to be a better investment. As evidence of this I cite the number of liberals—in the government and out—who have divested their 401(k) funds for the purpose of re-investing with the government. That number would be zero. Actions speaker louder than words.

The Ryan plan does not affect the Social Security payments due to people already retired or close to it. It affects those who are younger, who can build up substantially more income over their working lifetime in the market than they can with the Social Security Trust Fund.

It’s people on middle-to-working-class salaries who are adversely affected by the current system. The wealthy can afford to have their payroll taxes essentially wasted by having them poured into a fund no one of any political ideology really counts on when making personal financial decisions. But if you’re scraping by paycheck to paycheck, you don’t have that same luxury.

I believe in the basic premise of Social Security. I think it’s fair for the government to require that people pay a fixed amount toward their own retirement. That’s a responsibility of living in civil society, at least for those who are able, and doing it ensures the government has the funds to take care of people who need help through circumstances not of their own choosing. But the means to exercise that responsibility should be left to the individual person. If they prefer to structure a retirement package around private accounts, then that’s a legitimate choice that should be honored.

When Social Security was passed in the 1930s the opportunities for mass investment in the stock market didn’t exist for ordinary people to the extent they do today. Social Security was rightfully considered the mark of being a “progressive” in that day and age. It’s a mark of what’s happened on the political Left that “progressive” today is in fact blindly reactionary, willfully obstructing the progress of the Social Security system into the 21st century and allowing more people to capitalize on the long-term benefits of increasing investment in the stock market.

Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of



  • Antonio A. Badilla

    Debbie Wasserman. She will NEVER say a kind word about any Republican. She will attack anyone who happens to be a Republican whether he or she has an economic plan or not. She is the poster lady for partisan politics, so, anything she has to say, has to be taken with a grain of salt. She could not even admit that the ad against Romney that practically accuses him of murder was wrong. She must be a Pelosi type of Catholic!

  • I’m in the Money

    You’re confusing the 21st century with the 19th century.

    BTW, I have switched most of my 401k)s for government bonds of all sorts. As have many of my other liberal friends.

  • tz1

    You have two wrong assumptions if you think the stock market is a good place for retirement money. 1. Stocks always go up (or return to the old value). Indexes show survivor bias – when something blows up they remove it from the index. There’s Enron and Worldcom, but also things like Kodak. Apple is flying high now, what about in a year or two? When will the NASDAQ go back over 4000? Or the DJIA reach a new high? Or when will small hovels return to cost a half-million in that bubble? Or Gold reach $5000 (oh yea, stocks so we can have more crony capitalism but not gold). 2. stocks will have the gains when you need the money. It took 25 years to get back to the 1929 august peak – so someone, say 60 would have to wait until they were 85. Or taking $3 when the stock is 300 is 1%, but when it is 30 it is 10% – but if you need the money when it is at 30 you take the loss. Conversely, the “trust fund” always has been a lie, but it is like insurance in that today’s premiums pay today’s claims. The trust fund was in some kind of special treasury bonds. There is and it would be reasonable to have an allocated account instead of the current ponzi scheme where people who die before retiring get NOTHING back. Would you like to have kept your money with MF Global when John Corzine stole the client’s money to place derivative bets? And have the bankruptcy court say JPM can keep the stolen cash. And that no one at MF Global will go to jail – well hosting a $30k/plate dinner does help. Yet one last parting shot. St. Lawrence said the poor and sick were the treasures of the church and DIED for it. You say they belong to Caesar. Government can require me to pay to it what should be the responsibility of the Church and fraternal organizations? Ensuring leviathan is fat insures he can impose things like paying for contraception and sterilization, and abortion and euthanasia – the latter, perhaps in an ambiguous form, is how a lot of these programs will be “saved”.



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