In the vice presidential debate Thursday night, Paul Ryan seemed to indicate that a Romney administration would support the idea of giving younger Americans the option to move their Social Security benefits into private accounts.
The Wisconsin congressman and House Budget Committee chairman explained his and Mitt Romney’s support of the concept when asked about their backing of President George W. Bush’s failed Social Security privatization plan.
“For younger people,” Ryan said. “What we said then and what I agreed is, let younger Americans have a voluntary choice of making their money work faster for them within the Social Security system. That’s not what Mitt Romney proposes. We say no changes for anybody 55 and above.
“The changes we talk about for younger people like myself is don’t increase benefit for the wealthy people as fast as anybody else, raise the age over time,” he said. “It wouldn’t get to the age of 70 until the year 2103, according to the actuaries.”
Ryan championed plans in 2004 and 2010 that would shift Social Security funds into the private market. Participants would be permitted to invest one-third of their Social Security taxes in stocks and bonds. Although the plans contained mechanisms to protect payouts to beneficiaries against market fluctuations, nonpartisan studies found that it could destabilize the program’s solvency in the long-term. Bush tried and failed to enact a altered version of the plan at the beginning of his second term.
Romney’s official Social Security platform calls for incrementally raising the eligibility age and lowering benefits for high-income recipients. It does not mention the privatization proposal, but Ryan’s remarks indicate that the Romney-Ryan ticket supports the principle.