Republican David Hartsuch, the G.O.P. candidate in Iowa’s first congressional district, says allowing Americans to divert part of their Social Security taxes into stock investments is still a good idea. Hartsuch, an emergency room doctor who once worked as a C.P.A., says letting younger workers invest up to 25% of their Social Security taxes into a private account makes sense to him.
"I do believe that that proposal has some merit because I do believe that individuals could make better choices in the long run," Hartsuch says. "…The ability to have your private dollars, controlled by yourself, is a good thing." A few years ago President Bush pushed to change Social Security for younger workers, but Bush was not able to get congress to agree.
Congressman Bruce Braley, a first-term Democrat from Waterloo, was not in congress during that debate, but Braley says he opposes "privatizing" Social Security. "If there is any lesson we’ve learned from this economic meltdown, it is what a disaster most people would be in with their Social Security earnings if President Bush had gotten his way and been able to privatize Social Security as he wanted to do," Braley says.
Hartsuch, the Republican, opposes any increases in Social Security taxes. Hartsuch says there are other ways to balance the financially-strapped system. "One of the things that I’m concerned about, as an example, is payment of Social Security benefits to illegal aliens," Hartsuch says. "I don’t believe that should be permitted. I don’t think it’s wise and it does effect the solvency of Social Security." Braley, the Democrat, says congress should consider raising Social Security taxes on upper income earners.
"The cap on income contributions is not tied to cost-of-living and so there has been no indexed contribution limit," Braley says. "That has been set by law and that’s something we may have to consider doing because as people earn more and have a greater capacity to contribute to that fund, we may need to make sure that it’s indexed to the cost of income growth to make sure there’s adequate funds there." Under current law, Americans pay Social Security taxes on their income — up to $98,000. Those who earn six-figures and above do not pay an increasing amount of Social Security taxes on that additional income above 98,000.
Braley also says congress should not be allowed to "raid" the Social Security trust fund and "divert" the money for other purposes. The two candidates made their comments Monday during a forum broadcast on Iowa Public Radio.