President Bush is embarking on a five-state tour on the heels of Wednesday’s State of the Union Address. He will hit North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska and Arkansas before winding down his tour in Tampa at the Tampa Convention Center today at 4. The president will push his new Social Security plan on this campaign-like tour.
It will be a town hall-style meeting and only 1,000 people will be allowed to attend, all of whom will need tickets which have presumably been distributed to selected people already. The president will take questions from audience members pre-selected by the offices of Gov. Jeb Bush and members of Congress.
Florida seems to have been chosen for its extremely large elderly population. According to the 2000 U.S. census, the percentage of Floridians over age 65 is higher than any other state. Bay News 9 reported that over 2.7 billion Social Security dollars go to Florida every month. Florida has more citizens over 65 than any other red state. Only New York and California — both blue states — have more than Florida.
The president outlined his view of what needs to happen with Social Security in his speech to the nation Wednesday night.
He said if we leave Social Security alone, then “by the year 2042, the whole system would be exhausted and bankrupt.”
The issue stands to be exacerbated in the coming decades as the baby boomer generation gets ready to retire in record numbers.
His plan to fix Social Security involves allowing workers who are currently paying into the system to invest a small portion of their payments into a private fund. That fund will act very similarly to a 401K. It will pay out when the investor is older, in addition to their Social Security checks. The money would be theirs, and they would be able to pass along leftovers to their loved ones.
Opponents are extremely wary of the president’s plan. The AARP is one of the loudest voices of opposition.
“AARP is pleased that the president has put Social Security high on the nation’s agenda. But the solution shouldn’t be worse than the problem,” AARP CEO William D. Novelli said in a statement on the AARP homepage. “Private accounts that drain money out of Social Security will cut its guaranteed benefits, increase the debt and pass the bill on to future generations. AARP is working to strengthen Social Security, not dismantle it.”
The Bush administration argues that the plan will not “drain money out of Social Security” in a statement on the White House web site.
“The obligation to pay Social Security benefits is already there. While personal accounts affect the timing of these costs, they do not add to the total amount obligated through Social Security.”
There are other ideas on how to fix Social Security.
A common idea is to raise the Social Security tax more. It originally started at 2 percent in the 1930s and now sits at over six times that at 12.4 percent.
Another suggestion is limiting the benefits of more well-to-do retirees. This idea angers many, who, being better off, have in all actuality put by far the most money into Social Security. They say it would create an unfair “Robin Hood-esque” or socialist situation that punishes success.