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Why are older Americans so against Bush's Social Security plan?

  1. Feb 17, 2005 #1


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    (or any SS reform, for that matter)

    Link: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-02-16-young-benefits_x.htm

    Those are some dramatic numbers. I find it striking that even those 50-64 are in favor of it - and by a wider margin than younger people. So why is it that older people (65+) are not? Is it simply a fear that they will lose their money? (This, despite the fact that the Bush plan will not affect them at all)
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2005 #2
    Probably because they are afraid that the social security program will be changed in such a way that it will cause them to loose money that they wouldn't loose otherwise.
  4. Feb 17, 2005 #3


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    65 and older? Grew up with parents who'd lost their shirts in '29 --- younger than 65, parents probably weren't old enough to have actually been all that heavily invested. Other fact would be membership in the First Church of FDR.
  5. Feb 17, 2005 #4


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    I am an older American, and I am against the President's plan because it's bunk. It has been torn apart by economists and shown to be BS from beginning to end.
  6. Feb 17, 2005 #5


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    I am an older American, and I am for the President's plan (yet to be developed) because it will be benificial to my progeny. It is supported by all impartial economists including Alan Greenspan.
  7. Feb 17, 2005 #6
    I'm a younger american and I'm certain its bunk. Guessing why older americans would think its bunk might be trickier. I can make a guess though. His proposal includes cuts to benefits in the form of a change in how benefit increases are made. These cuts are unlikely to affect them very much, but the mere hint of cuts, even if they are small, may be enough for them to dislike the idea.
  8. Feb 17, 2005 #7


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    That's not quite true.

    It will not fix the current social security problem. In fact, it could make the current problem worse unless he cuts money somewhere else or raises taxes to meet the transition costs.

    It will prevent a problem like the current one from happening 50, 60 years from now. It's a good idea even if it doesn't address the immediate problem. Currently, nearly half of the national debt is owed to Social Security and has to be paid back on time or Social Security becomes a crisis a lot sooner than projected. Separating people's retirement money from the national treasury is a good idea. It also addresses some other problems that could crop up when all of the baby boomers start cashing in their 401k's, IRA's, pensions, etc and start depressing the value of the stock market that all of those middle class retirees were depending on.

    The only legitimate knock against it is that fixing the current problems should have a higher priority. If Bush's plan conflicts with fixing the current program, then it should be delayed, not scrapped. I'm not even sure about that, since we really need to address two separate problems concurrently. The important thing is that Bush's plan not make it impossible to fix the other problems with social security.
  9. Feb 17, 2005 #8


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    I added this part:
    ...because people over 65 tend to reject SS reform of any kind. Please note, the poll question does not mention Bush, but rather the general concept of personal investing. I mentioned Bush's plan due to my perception that seniors would not leave Bush's plan out of it. Please remember, the concept of personal accounts (and the more general idea of investing part of the SS money) has been on the table for many years - it wasn't Bush's idea (interesting article: http://www.cato.org/dailys/01-22-01.html). But by-and-large it has never been supported by seniors.

    So if you would indulge me: are you in favor of the general concept of partial privatization and why or why not? How about the government investing part of the money in stocks/bonds? Please leave Bush out of it for that part.

    Regarding the Bush angle: why would seniors so strongly believe Bush's plan is flawed while those just under retirement age would so strongly support it?
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2005
  10. Feb 17, 2005 #9
    Until more details are provided - most of which won't be provided until it passes - there is no possible way the above statement can be shown to be true. There are some less than respectable types who assume that people will get stock market returns and make vague guesses based on weak historical evidence, but that should not convince anyone.

    Edit: I retract the above statement. You can show there wont be a problem like the current one; you just can't show that other problems won't occur, and you can't show it is a beneficial plan to anyone.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2005
  11. Feb 17, 2005 #10


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    I think there are a few possible reasons, not the same for every person in that group.

    1) They are mostly hearing this idea as coming from Bush, so aren't really answering the question asked but are answering the unasked question of whether they agree with the Bush plan. (With regard to the Bush plan, all anyone hears about is the partial privatization, but no further information on it...if that's all there is to it, it's not going to be enough, though I consider it good to include within a plan that includes other changes as well).

    2) They don't understand it won't affect them.

    3) They've been raised seeing social security as their entitlement. I know my parents have always been that way, just waiting for the day they could collect their social security check and retire.

    4) Lack of knowledge about investing, so fear it.

    5) I still have grandparents alive who lived through the Great Depression, so that 65 and older group includes not only people whose parents directly experienced the depression, but who themselves experienced it. They are very leery of any kind of investments. There are plenty of people in that generation who still have enormous stashes of cash hidden all over their houses because they don't even trust a bank with it.

    6) (guessing) Higher percentage of people with only an 8th grade education, or less, so haven't done the math to see what a poor investment social security is.

    7) They just don't really care and don't want to be bothered with changes because they're already collecting their checks so would rather see government doing something else they'll actually benefit from.
  12. Feb 17, 2005 #11
    So they don't stop to think.

    They don't stop to think

    They're like spoiled children and expect someone else to pay their way because they're "entitled". If i acted like that in my parents' household i would have gotten my arse beaten. You're not "entitled" to anything, except maybe the air you breathe, and even that is questionable.

    You're really not even entitled to "basic human rights". Which isn't to stay that they shouldn't be universal, but if you don't work to protect them, you won't get them.

    Since it doesn't affect them, this ties back into the "tthey don't stop to think"

    This, while still not rational, is at least understandable. Thats just basic human nature, reacting to bad experiences with aversion towards the precipitating circumstances.

    Not qualified to stop to think.


    While this may not represent everyone in that age group, that seems to be about what it comes down to. Of course, the same goes for many people of all ages, but they're not the ones we're discussing.
  13. Feb 17, 2005 #12


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    And I believe Clinton tried to gain support for using the surplus (that we had at that time) to fund a transition. First, I don't understand why there aren't more details available on Bush's plan (maybe he really does want the Democrats to come up with these things for him). Didn't he mention in the State of the Union speech that he is not proposing speculative stocks, but rather T-bills, bonds, etc., (that would be guaranteed by the government?)? Of course this would mean a rate of return only a little better than a typical savings account--which I thought this was supposed to be the purpose of the "Trust Fund" that either never had money placed in it, or if there had been money, the government has spent it. It would seem that the Trust Fund idea is the same as Bush's privitization idea, only for all the money being collected from everyone to be put aside in an interest bearing/invested account (well if it had been adhered to).

    As stated under another SS heading, younger generations will not receive pension plans (except government employees who can begin collecting these funds after only 20 years--they don't have to wait until age 67!?). Only some of those who work for companies offering 401Ks will participate in the program, and even with aggressive stocks are likely to see returns on par with T-bills, bonds, etc. if they are lucky.

    Also, younger generations may be forgetting that older generations tend to own their homes, have little if any credit card debt, have savings accounts, and are more frugal with spending. Their cost of living makes the average SS check of $900 more meaningful.

    Social Security is more like an insurance plan, except that you may actually be able to collect some of it back after paying your premiums year after year. I am in favor of keeping a mandatory withholding program of some kind PLUS incentives for retirement investments and savings. Otherwise the younger generation will be SOL after their parents die and can no longer bum off of them. :eek:
  14. Feb 17, 2005 #13
    I have to agree that it is BS true and through. Here are some basic questions:

    How many people know how to invest their money, outside of going to a broker, and how secure is that money once it is invested?

    How come the 'private investments' will be restricted to a few designated companies?

    If these companies go bust, will you be SOL?

    Have you people already forgotten about Enron?

    How accountable will these companies be once malfeasance happens? It will happen!

    Given the obvious spin or misinformation(there's that gal again!) why should this proposal be trusted?

    Given the background of the CATO insititute, why should they be trusted?

    How come SS is not being managed in a responsible manner? Or how about the the government as well?

    Who will be accountable? Can we skin'em?

    It amazes me that some of the commentary here has not taken into account the fact that these business/finance guys will take your shirts and not care one bit if your left out in the cold. There also seems to be a lack of concern about how trustworthy these finacial institutions really are, which is makes me think:"There's another SUCKER born every minute!"

    Make sure your not one of them!
  15. Feb 17, 2005 #14


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    Democrats are always fixing the social security crisis. Apparently the crisis only occurs when a democrat is president. The fix is always easy as demonstrated by President Carter:

    Carter signs a Social Security measure that would keep the system solvent until 2030, resulting in a huge increase in payroll taxes. (December 1977)

    Notable Democrats that claim Social Security is in a crisis:


    Dick Durbin (D-IL) … Social Security Will Be Unable To Pay Out Full Benefits. The Sooner Congress Acts To Avert This Crisis The Easier And Less Painful It Will Be…

    Byron Dorgan (D-ND):…Fixing Social Security Is An Urgent Priority. It Ought To Be At The Top Of Both Parties' Agendas…

    Kent Conrad (D-ND):…And There Was Virtual Unanimity Of Opinion That We Simply Have To Get A Higher Return From The Social Security Investments…

    Sander Levin (D-MI): …People Can See, I Think, A Social Security Crisis Where Their Immediate Family Is Affected Even If Not Immediately…

    Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader: …most of us have no problem with taking a small amount of the Social Security proceeds and putting it into the private sector…


    Charles Rangel (D-NY:…I Am One Democrat That Truly Believes That Democrats Will Not Benefit By Doing Nothing On Social Security…

    Edward J. Markey (D-MA:…I Am An Advocate For Investing A Portion Of The Surplus In The Private Sector…

    Jerrold Nadler (D-NY:…It's A Way Of Getting More Money - A Higher Return On The Trust Fund, And Is A Prudent And Good Thing To Do…


    Bill Clinton: …Investing Will Earn A Higher Return And Keep Social Security Sound For 55 Years…

    Bill Clinton:…What I Believe We Should Do Is To Invest A Modest Amount Of This In The Private Sector, The Way Every Other Retirement Plan Does... The Arizona State Retirement Plan Does…

    Bill Clinton:…Even After You Take Account Of The Stock Market Going Down And Maybe Staying Down For A Few Years, Shouldn't We Consider Investing Some Of This Money, Because, Otherwise, We'll Have To Either Cut Benefits Or Raise Taxes To Cover Them…

    Bill Clinton:…This Fiscal Crisis In Social Security Affects Every Generation…

    JOHN F. KENNEDY:..The Social Security program plays an important part in providing for families, children, and older persons in times of stress. But it cannot remain static. Changes in our population, in our working habits, and in our standard of living require constant revision...

  16. Feb 17, 2005 #15
    Clarification about Bill Clinton and privitization (I hope).
    Josh Marshall
    It seems that many people feel that certain democrats (or whoever) oppose the President's plan out of spite. I'm personally not old enough to have considered privitization under any other president, but Bush hasn't convinced me (not that you guys care).
    Anyway, if you scroll down a little you can find this link:
    SocSec Calculator
    I don't know if this type of thing has already been posted, but it's pretty interesting. Remember to read the fine print.
  17. Feb 17, 2005 #16

    Its on the internet, it must be true!!

    Based on assumptions. Hmmmm....

    And at any rate, unlike some of you people, i don't like to pretend i'm entitled to anything. I'm not entitled to social security benefits and neither are you. So benefits have to be cut, big surprise. At least under private accounts, that money stays mine. Anyone who plans their retirement around social security, well its your own fault for assuming that would be there. You're not entitled to it. And its gonna have to be cut.
  18. Feb 17, 2005 #17


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    Suckie Schumer’s site???

    You must be bonkers to suggest that idiot’s site! I have a bridge to sell you, an oldie but goodie.

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Said President Should “Forget” about Strengthening Social Security Because “It Will Not Happen.” (Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Press Conference, 2/1/05)

    The leading Dem senator says that Bush is trying to strengthen SS.

    He’s still against it. A new democratic strategy?

  19. Feb 18, 2005 #18


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    Even FDR supports change:

    "It is proposed that the federal government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans," FDR told Congress.

  20. Feb 18, 2005 #19

    Yeah, its called screw the american people, because we only care about whether or not something makes us look good.
  21. Feb 18, 2005 #20
    Now that is ironic.
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