Steve Forbes wants to push quickly to privatize the giant Social Security fund for younger people, going far beyond more modest overhauls discussed by his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination and by Democrats.
Forbes doesn’t discuss the plan in his multitude of TV ads, and he is just beginning to raise the politically volatile issue on the campaign trail. But aides say reworking the old-age pension system would be a high priority should Forbes be elected president.
His plan would put part of young people’s Social Security payroll deductions into private savings instead of a government trust fund, and that has some senior citizens groups worried.
“To privatize the system changes its whole nature,” said Dan Schulder of the National Council of Senior Citizens.
Nonetheless, the idea has caught the eye of those who believe they could do a better job than the government of investing their money for old age.
This week, the issue surfaced on the campaign trail in Iowa. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole began airing a television commercial warning: “Steve Forbes plans to end Social Security as we know it.”
Dole ran the ad in response to a Forbes’ spot accusing the Kansas Republican of failing to protect Social Security. Dole has a long record of working to keep the system solvent through limited changes such as scaling back cost-of-living adjustments and taxing certain benefits.
Other GOP candidates mostly have steered clear of Social Security this year - unless pressed.
“They’ll throw out some possibilities, but they don’t want to get caught in any specifics,” said Bob Hannon of the Concord Coalition, a private group that advocates scaling back Social Security benefits for highincome Americans.
Forbes argues that an overhaul is needed because Social Security faces insolvency in the year 2030.
He would maintain the current system for Americans now drawing Social Security benefits, plus those retiring in the next decade or so.