Rick Santorum on Social Security

Last Updated : Jan 04, 2012

Summary

Senator Santorum has been vocal and active on social security since entering the Senate. He has been a strong advocate for reforming the system to keep it solvent in future years.

In June of 1999, Senator Santorum spoke on the senate floor and noted the problems in social security with respect to it's structure. He noted that the social security originally had 17 people paying in for each person in the system. As of 1999 there were 3.3 people paying for every one in the system. He notes that there will eventually be 2 or less people paying in for every retiree. To prevent the inevitable increase in taxes or decrease in benefits caused by the shifting demographics, Senator Santorum advocated in favor of "lock box" legislation. The plan would have ensured that surpluses being paid into the social security system would have been stored in a lock box for the days when the system was running deficits and not spent on other governmental projects. 

In September of 2003, Senator Santorum spoke in support of a partial privatization of social security. This partial privatization would have allowed people to take a portion of the money that would have gone into social security and put it into a personal account and possibly invest the money. He notes that this would be a plan similiar to one offered to federal employees. By doing this, Senator Santorum hoped to make up some of the projected shortfalls in the social security projections through the growth in the invested funds.

Senator Santorum continued to urge action on social security going into 2005. To combat the inevitable reduction in benefits that would come from future insolvency, Senator Santorum co-sponsored the Social Security Guarantee Act of 2005. This legislation would have prohibited any changes to the social security system for anyone born before 1950, and would have guaranteed cost of living adjustments for seniors.

One option that Senator Santorum has proposed is to raise the retirement age for social security. He has noted that all options should be on the table when addressing the problems in social secutity and that given the increased lifespans since the start of the program, increasing the retirement age is a reasonable move.

During the Presidential campaign, Senator Santorum has continued to push to address the problems in social security. He has also advocated for changing the cost of living adjustment to be linked to actual cost inflation instead of wage inflation. He also supports means testing. His total plan consists of:

  • adjust the CPI
  • adjust dependent benefits and disability income benefits
  • move back the retirement age for younger workers
  • means testing benefits
  • dedicate Social Security payroll taxes to Social Security

 

Social Security Lockbox

In June of 1999, Senator Santorum spoke on the Senate floor about social security in general and about the need to ensure that funds paid in through social security are spent on social security. On June 13, the Senator gave a long speech discussing the number of people paying into social security and the number of people receiving social security. He notes the need to save money from today so that people in the future will have the funds they need when there are fewer workers to support the system. A few days later on June 16, the Senator participates in a floor discussion with Senator Lautenburg of New Jersey and several others. Senator Santorum discusses his disappointment at Senate Democratic opposition to social security reform and the unwillingness of Senate Democrats to act on securing the social security and Medicare surpluses.

 

Social Security and Privatization

On September 22, 2003 Senator Santorum carried out a conversation relating to social security and privatization with numerous other Senators on the Senate floor. The discussion covered aspects of privatization, and the need to take surplus amounts from the system and prevent them from being spent on other projects.

 

Doing Nothing is a Bad Choice

In February of 2005, Senator Santorum spoke on the Senate floor about social security and the bad choice that the US would be making by chosing not to act on social security.

 

The Problems Facing Social Security

In April of 2005, Senator Santorum spoke on the Senate floor discussing the problems facing social security of lowering population and increasing lifetimes of those within the social security system. He participates in a discussion with a number of other Senators relating to social security.

 

Social Security Guarantee Act of 2005

On November 15, 2005 Senator Santorum spoke on the floor of the Senate with Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina about the Social Security Guarantee Act of 2005. He responds to objections by Senator Max Baucus and Senator Harry Reid.

 

Meet the Press Debate

In September of 2006, Senator Santorum debated his Democratic opponent  for the Senate on an episode of Meet the Press which was moderated by Tim Russert. In this debate, Senator Santorum outlines a plan to reform social security by passing the Social Security Guarantee Act, stop taking surpluses from social security and place them in a lock box, and allow younger people to opt out of the system.

 

Meet the Press Appearance

In a June 2011 appearance on Meet the Press, Senator Santorum was asked about raising the retirement age and responded by changing the way social security increases are indexed. He states that changing that index from income to cost of goods will help solve a large portion of the problem.

 

Iowa Campaign Event

At a campaign event in Iowa, Senator Santorum spoke about the loss of the surpluses in social security funds and the insolvency of the program.

 

TEA Party Debate

In September of 2011, Senator Santorum appeared in the TEA Party debate in Tamp Bay, Florida. He stated that he had been calling for reform to social security for years and one reform could be raising the retirement age.

 

2012 Presidential Campaign Website Statements

 

 

Voting Record

Amendment - Balanced Budget without Social Security

In April of 1999, the Senate voted on an amendment to prevent the government from using the social security surplus from balancing the federal budget. It created a "locbox" for the social security surplus and established limits on the federal debt. The amendment established four findings and two resolutions with multiple points of order to enforce those resolutions. These findings and resolutions were:

Congress finds that--

(1) the $69,246,000,000 unified budget surplus achieved in fiscal year 1998 was entirely due to surpluses generated by the social security trust funds and the cumulative unified budget surpluses projected for subsequent fiscal years are primarily due to surpluses generated by the social security trust funds;

(2) Congress and the President should balance the budget excluding the surpluses generated by the social security trust funds;

(3) according to the Congressional Budget Office, balancing the budget excluding the surpluses generated by the social security trust funds will reduce the debt held by the public by a total of $1,723,000,000,000 by the end of fiscal year 2009; and

(4) social security surpluses should be used for social security reform or to reduce the debt held by the public and should not be spent on other programs.

SEC. 203. PROTECTION OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST FUNDS.

(a) PROTECTION BY CONGRESS.--

(1) REAFFIRMATION OF SUPPORT.--Congress reaffirms its support for the provisions of section 13301 of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990 that provides that the receipts and disbursements of the social security trust funds shall not be counted for the purposes of the budget submitted by the President, the congressional budget, or the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

(2) PROTECTION OF SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS.--If there are sufficient balances in the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, the Secretary of Treasury shall give priority to the payment of social security benefits required to be paid by law.

The vote failed to overcome a cloture motion. However, it did get the majority of a 54-45 vote. Rick Santorum voted in favor of the amendment to create a lock box for social security surpluses and limit the federal debt.

Rick Santorum voted in favor of the amendment to create a lock box for social security surpluses and limit the federal debt.

Amendment - Private Accounts

In April of 1998, the Senate voted on amendment 2209 to the budget for that year. The amendment contained nine findings and a resolution. The nine findings were:

(1) The social security program is the foundation of retirement income for most Americans, and solving the financial problems of the social security program is a vital national priority and essential for the retirement security of today's working Americans and their families.

(2) There is a growing bipartisan consensus that personal retirement accounts should be an important feature of social security reform.

(3) Personal retirement accounts can provide a substantial retirement nest egg and real personal wealth. For an individual 28 years old on the date of the adoption of this resolution, earning an average wage, and retiring at age 65 in 2035, just 1 percent of that individual's wages deposited each year in a personal retirement account and invested in securities consisting of the Standard & Poors 500 would grow to $132,000, and be worth approximately 20 percent of the benefits that would be provided to the individual under the current provisions of the social security program.

(4) Personal retirement accounts would give the majority of Americans who do not own any investment assets a new stake in the economic growth of America.

(5) Personal retirement accounts would demonstrate the value of savings and the magic of compound interest to all Americans. Today, Americans save less than people in almost every other country.

(6) Personal retirement accounts would help Americans to better prepare for retirement generally. According to the Congressional Research Service, 60 percent of Americans are not actively participating in a retirement plan other than social security, although social security was never intended to be the sole source of retirement income.

(7) Personal retirement accounts would allow partial prefunding of retirement benefits, thereby providing for social security's future financial stability.

(8) The Federal budget will register a surplus of $671,000,000,000 over the next 10 years, offering a unique opportunity to begin a permanent solution to social security's financing.

(9) Using the Federal budget surplus to fund personal retirement accounts would be an important first step in comprehensive social security reform and ensuring the delivery of promised retirement benefits.

(b) Sense of the Senate: It is the sense of the Senate that this resolution assumes that the Committee on Finance shall consider and report a legislative proposal this year that would dedicate the Federal budget surplus to the establishment of a program of personal retirement accounts for working Americans and reduce the unfunded liabilities of the social security program.

The amendment was agreed to in the Senate 51-49. Rick Santorum voted in favor of the amendment to use surplus social security funds for private accounts.

Rick Santorum voted in favor of the amendment to use surplus social security funds for private accounts.

 

Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

Session-106; Bill Number-S 3200; Social Security KidSave Accounts Act - Cosponsor

Amends title II (Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance) (OASDI) of the Social Security Act to create a new part B (KidSave Accounts). Directs the Commissioner of Social Security to establish in the name of each individual born on or after January 1, 2000, an individual retirement account in the Thrift Savings Fund known as a KidSave Account. Requires such Account to be treated in the same manner as an account maintained by a Federal employee under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) (into which contributions by or on behalf of the individual are deposited into one or more designated investment funds).Requires the Secretary of the Treasury to transfer from the Federal Old- Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund to each account holder's KidSave Account: (1) $2,000, on the date such individual's KidSave Account is established; plus (2) other, including rollover, contributions, by or on behalf of the individual, the aggregate amount of which in the case of any individual below age 19 is capped at $500 for any taxable year. Provides for the treatment of distributions.Amends the Internal Revenue Code to exclude from gross income any rollovers into a KidSave Account.

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