Consider these event…
Consider these events:

  • The appointment of a bipartisan commission to fix Social Security. One of their 3 potential plans was to allow people to divert 5% of their payroll taxes to personal accounts.
  • The President who appointed this commission advocated doing something now to save Social Security. He travelled the country giving speeches, saying, “it would be unconscionable if we failed to act.” He warned that it is better to “fix the roof when the sun is shining,” and ran through the familiar arithmetic of the declining number of workers supporting every retiree. He urged finding ways to allow poorer workers to build wealth so they could “own a share of our nation’s prosperity.”
  • The President was also quoted as saying, “nearly everybody knows that something substantial, really substantial, has to be done to reform the Social Security system to accommodate the Baby Boom generation.”

Name that President.


If you said “George W. Bush”, you could be forgiven, since Democrats and the media have made the who Social Security issue sound like Dubya’s been the first guy to try to suggest doing personal accounts, in addition to denying that there’s even a problem. But the correct answer is Bill Clinton.

There’s more.

But as budget surplus projections grew on the back of a stock market bubble, Republican leaders wanted the money for across-the-board cuts in income taxes. Clinton promised a veto.

Instead, he proposed tax cuts of a different sort — in the form of mandatory savings, returned to workers for their own individual accounts.

Clinton called these universal savings accounts, USA for short. He proposed them as an addition to Social Security. In today’s debate they are known as “add-on” accounts, favored by Democrats and a number of Republicans, including [Rep. Clay Shaw], and viewed as a potential compromise.

Unfortunately, the Lewinsky matter torpedoed anything else going on at the time, and the proposals died. But just remember this when bloggers and pundits continue to act as though the current proposals are unprecedented and unnecessary.

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