Bill Clinton's Social Security Options

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 30, 2005 | Go to article overview

Bill Clinton's Social Security Options


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

In a recent editorial, The Washington Times reminded its readers that then-President Clinton, in a major policy speech delivered in February 1998 at Georgetown University, warned about "the looming fiscal crisis in Social Security" that "affects every generation." Today, congressional Democrats are downplaying Mr. Clinton's "looming fiscal crisis" in an effort to sabotage any reform effort that might include individual (or personal) retirement accounts.

Mr. Clinton had good reason to be worried about Social Security's long-term future. When he delivered his Georgetown speech, he had been in office for more than five years, during which time he labored over the federal budget and the long-term consequences of fiscal policy. In addition, before the 1998 speech, three national panels had already been commissioned during the Clinton administration to review Social Security reform options: the Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform (1993-1995); the 1994-1996 Advisory Council on Social Security; and the 1997-1998 National Commission on Retirement Policy.

All three panels offered long-term reform plans that included individual accounts. Moreover, a policy paper presented in June 2001 and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research the following September revealed that the Clinton administration itself intensively analyzed such accounts as part of a long-term solution to "the looming fiscal crisis." Indeed, within days of Mr. Clinton's Georgetown speech, "the administration launched a systematic process to develop a Social Security reform plan," according to the very revealing 2001 paper - "Fiscal Policy and Social Security Policy During the 1990s" - delivered at a Harvard conference. The paper was written by three former senior Clinton administration policy-makers: Douglas Elmendorf (deputy assistant secretary of the treasury), Jeffrey Liebman (special assistant to the president for economic policy) and David Wilcox (assistant secretary of the treasury).

The authors respectfully noted that "[t]he administration's economic team was also aware of a significant group within the Democratic Party that downplayed the need for Social Security reform." Then, they proceeded to demolish the Democratic group's arguments, which today are being repeated by pro-status quo Democrats.

While the administration's high-level working group was reviewing the options, the rapidly growing economy and the soaring stock market were on the verge of turning longtime budget deficits into budget surpluses, which were soon to be projected for years into the future. Admittedly, the imminence of these surpluses stoked the president's interest in exploiting the superior returns offered by stock and bond investments. At the same time, however, "the president also made clear that all reform options other than an increase in the payroll tax should be on the table." To this end, "much of the effort ultimately was directed toward devising ways of bridging the gap between the defenders of the current defined-benefit system and advocates of individual accounts."

Focusing on (1) administrative feasibility and costs, (2) portfolio market risk, (3) political interference in markets and corporate governance and (4) redistribution, the working group rigorously studied the option of investments in private financial assets. It concluded that "such a system could be run at an annual cost of $20 to $30 per account. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bill Clinton's Social Security Options
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.