United States – The topic of Social Security reform has been on the minds of many Americans lately. President Bush has been pushing several issues intended to fix a system that some have said is in crisis. The most outstanding of which is to privatize retirement benefits for Americans who choose to do so.
Dr. Charles Elliott, a retired political science professor at A&M-Commerce, said that in decades to come, the program will be spending more than it brings in.
ELLIOTT: The timeframe I've seen is that sometime around the year 2045 to 2050-52, the fund will begin operating at a deficit.
Social Security is a pay as you go program, with current workers providing money for the benefits of retirees. Population projections show that when the Baby Boomers begin retiring en masse, the number of workers won't be able to support the number of retirees. Elliott said it's these projections that cause the concern.
ELLIOTT: I think people are a little frightened by the prospect of not knowing how much they're going to have and that it will be there.
Elliott said he doesn't think there is a crisis, and that President Bush's privatization plan would create an immediate, and unnecessary operating deficit, that will hurt a successful program.
ELLIOTT: This has been absolutely the most successful welfare program we've ever had, and literally millions upon millions of people have been able to go into old age with some sense of security they've never had before. And certainly a sense of security that they certainly will not have with individual retirement accounts.
It is important that the issue has been raised as a means of informing the public, Elliott said.
ELLIOTT: I think it's encouraging that we are talking about it. i think alot more people know about the program than did before.
Social Security reform has been called the political 3rd rail because of the controversy such discussions stir up. But President Bush has decided to address the issue, and at least one good thing will come of it: education for the American people.