Should the United States Privatize Social Security?

By Henry J. Aaron; John B. Shoven et al. | Go to book overview
11.
I understand that fiscal policy depends on the magnitude of all taxes, transfers, and expenditures, appropriately weighted (although no one yet knows just what the right weights are). In that sense, fiscal policy depends on all operations of government, including Social Security. Few people now favor the use of fiscal policy for short-run stabilization, however. That job belongs to the Federal Reserve open market committee. The primary microeconomic influence of fiscal policy is on resource allocations. The primary macroeconomic use is to influence the U.S. national saving rate. In my view, budget accounting rules should be seen as utilitarian instruments to be constructed to help promote good public policy and informed debate, not as Platonic essences that, once discovered, should be enshrined. Since I believe that U.S. saving is now lower than optimal, I favor budget accounting rules that would help maintain Trust Fund surpluses as genuine additions to national saving and would help defend them against unneeded additional spending or tax cuts.
12.
Bayer et al. (1996).
13.
Engen and Gale ( 1996, Table 3-2). The fact that there is net borrowing does not imply the absence of nontax-sheltered saving; it means that borrowing in various forms more than offsets any such saving.

References

Bayer, Patrick J., B. Douglas Bernheim, and John Karl Scholz. 1996. "The Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Employers." NBER working paper no. 5655.

Diamond, Peter. 1997. "Macroeconomic Aspects of Social Security Reform." Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, no. 2, 1-66.

Employee Benefit Research Institute. 1998. "Are Individual Accounts Administratively Feasible?" Washington, D.C., mimeo.

Engen, Eric M., and William G. Gale. 1996. "The Effects of Fundamental Tax Reform on Saving." In Henry J. Aaron and William G. Gale, eds. Economic Effects of Fundamental Tax Reform. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.

Geanokoplos, John, Olivia Mitchell, and Steven Zeldes. 1998. "Would a Privatized Social Security System Really Have a Higher Rate of Return?" Paper presented to the tenth annual meeting of the National Academy of Social Insurance, Washington, D.C., January 29-30.

-111-

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Should the United States Privatize Social Security?
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Note xii
  • 1: Social Security Reform: Two Tiers Are Better Than One 1
  • Notes 51
  • References 52
  • 2: Social Security: Tune It Up, Don'T Trade It In 55
  • Conclusion 108
  • Notes 109
  • References 111
  • 3: Comments 113
  • Note 123
  • Summary 132
  • Summary 132
  • References 133
  • Alicia H. Munnell 133
  • Conclusion 144
  • References 145
  • 4: Responses 155
  • Note 159
  • Note 168
  • 5: Rejoinder 169
  • Contributors 171
  • Index 173
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