The perennial issue of “privatizing” Social Security is now front and center in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race. Republican candidate Joni Ernst has said perhaps younger workers and those just entering the workforce should be able to shift their Social Security taxes into personal accounts and manage their own retirement savings.
Bruce Braley, her Democratic opponent, says all workers should remain in the current system. “When you start diluting it and giving people different options and different levels of payments and different levels of risk, then a lot of things can happen to adversely affect one group and that creates envy and competition and I think that’s why these programs have been so successful is because they’ve eliminated that for the most part,” Braley says.
Social security was an issue in Braley’s first campaign for congress in 2006. President George W. Bush took to the campaign trail after winning reelection in 2004 and argued younger workers should be able to invest in the stock market rather than pay into Social Security. “I can remember the loud and firm public backlash against President Bush and members of congress who pushed for privatization,” Braley says.
Braley met with small groups of retirees in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines on Monday to discuss retirement security. Braley says congress should seek a “bipartisan solution” to make the Social Security and Medicaid systems solvent for the long-term. “I think the vast majority of Iowans want these programs to be in existence and around not just for the current generation of beneficiaries, but the future ones,” Braley says.
The Braley campaign cites a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis which concluded more than 530,000 Iowans were enrolled in Medicare in 2012. A federal report indicates more than 580,000 Iowans are getting Social Security benefits.