On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Eighty-one years later it still represents one of the most successful social programs in our country’s history.
As a member of Congress, Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was one of the biggest cheerleaders for George W. Bush’s privatization plans and other reforms that would have harmed the program.
As early as 2002, Pence spoke in the House of Representatives in favor of privatization. In 2005, after President Bush proposed reforms, he delivered speech after speech in favor of the proposal. He claimed at the time, “Social Security reform means keeping its promise in tact for seniors and all who choose to remain in the system. But Social Security reform also means offering a better deal to younger Americans in the form of voluntary personal accounts.”
A consistent theme of Pence’s was that privatization and other reforms would save the program from insolvency and protect seniors from future cuts. This was not true.
According to an analysis at the time from the Center for American Progress, such reforms would actually “worsen Social Security’s financial outlook.” In addition:
- Bush Would Address Solvency Solely by Cutting Benefits.
- Benefit Cuts Would Come Through a Change in the Benefit Formula.
- Bush’s Benefit Cuts Would Affect 70 Percent of All Taxpayers.
- More Benefit Cuts Down the Road under Bush’s Plan.
Furthermore, Bush’s privatization plan would have added “trillions of dollars” to the deficit, while only providing “limited” investment choices for seniors. Yet Pence enthusiastically supported this policy.
Paul Krugman wrote of Bush’s Social Security proposal, “Privatizing Social Security—replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accounts—won't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.”
On Social Security’s birthday, let’s remember that Mike Pence was one of those cheering for the program’s destruction.