Should the United States Privatize Social Security?

By Henry J. Aaron; John B. Shoven et al. | Go to book overview

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Social Security Reform: Two Tiers Are Better Than One

John B. Shoven

Social Security is the largest federal government spending program in the United States. Most elderly depend on the program for more than half of their income and most workers pay more in Social Security payroll taxes than in personal income taxes. The program has a record of sixty years of accomplishments; perhaps, most importantly, reducing the poverty rate among the elderly to where it is today-- lower than for the population as a whole. Still, Social Security faces a very uncertain economic and political future. Its Trust Fund nearly ran out of money in 1977 and then again in the early 1980s, requiring extensive changes to restore the financial soundness of the system. The last round of fixes were designed by the 1983 Greenspan Commission and included raising the payroll tax rate, advancing the normal retirement age, and partially taxing the receipt of Social Security benefits. The claim was that with the 1983 package of changes the Social Security Trust Fund would remain solvent until 2063 when the youngest baby boomer would be 100 years old. With that forecast, the Greenspan Commission could brag that it had fixed Social Security for the

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