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Rick Santorum on Social Security

Republican Jr Senator (PA)


Means testing: reduce benefits for wealthy seniors

GOV. HUNTSMAN: [to Santorum]: On entitlements, across the board, I will tell the upper income category in this country that there will be means testing. There are a lot of people in this nation who don't need Social Security and Medicare.

SANTORUM: I would agree with Governor Huntsman about means testing. We have to make sure that we're not going to burden future generations with a Social Security program that's underfunded. It's underfunded right now. And we have to take those who have been successful who are seniors who have a tremendous amount of wealth and we ought to reduce benefits. It makes no sense for folks who are struggling right now to pay their payroll tax which is the biggest tax--it's tax on labor, makes us uncompetitive--and the idea that some on the left would have to raise those taxes to make labor even more uncompetitive for those working people who are trying to get a job to subsidize high-income seniors doesn't make any sense to me.

Source: Meet the Press 2012 GOP New Hampshire debate , Jan 8, 2012

1994: Proposed raising retirement age, despite unpopularity

I was out in 1994 running against a Democratic incumbent in a campaign managed by James Carville, and I went out and talked about Social Security reform. Why? Because I knew this day was coming. And I had the courage to go out and say Social Security is in trouble. And I told a group of young people at La Salle University that we needed to do something like raising the retirement age. They ran that on TV for 3 weeks prior to the election, in the 2nd oldest per capita state. And I still won the election. Why? Because the people of Pennsylvania wanted someone who had the courage to tell them the truth. And I had the courage to tell them the truth. I went with Bill Clinton in 1997 on the first bipartisan Social Security town hall meeting, and I was the spokesperson, a Republican conservative from a blue state out there leading the charge on Social Security. I've got a track record of courage and a track record of concrete proposals on how to
Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL , Sep 12, 2011

Supports privatization if voluntary

Using Social Security taxes for private accounts
AARPOpposes
Bob CaseyOpposes
Rick SantorumSupports
Q: Will you support or oppose using Social Security taxes to fund private accounts?

A: I only support using Social Security taxes to fund private accounts if such an option is voluntary. I believe that Social Security must remain a program that our children & grandchildren can depend on-we owe it to them to provide for their retirement security as they have provided for current and previous generations. As proposals for strengthening and improving this valuable system for future retirees are considered, I believe that all options should remain on the table. I take seriously my responsibility of working to protect current and near retirees, while ensuring sustainable financial security and peace of mind for future generations.

Source: AARP Senate candidate questionnaire , Sep 29, 2006

Switched from raising retirement age to personal accounts

Q: When you ran first for the Senate in 1994 you said, “You can raise taxes, you can cut benefits, or you can push back the retirement age in the future.” You also said, “It is ridiculous if we have a retirement age in this country of age 65 today. Push it back to at least 70. I’d go even farther if I could, but I don’t think I could pass it.” Will you push retirement age back because of the huge influx of baby boomers?

SANTORUM: Yeah, everybody in Pennsylvania has seen that quote because it’s been out on [Casey’s] advertisement.

Q: Well, you said it.

SANTORUM: I did say it. But I’ve had 12 years in the US Senate and I haven’t introduced or voted for anything like that because I think that there’s a better way. The alternatives at the time, as you heard me lay out, were either raise taxes or cut benefits or push back the retirement age. I think there’s a third option now that I have been an advocate for, and that’s personal retirement accounts.

Source: PA 2006 Senate Debate, Tim Russert moderator , Sep 3, 2006

Guaranteed benefit if over 50; personal account if younger

SANTORUM: I have a three-step concrete approach to dealing with Social Security. #1, pass the Social Security Guarantee Act, which says that if you’re born before 1950, your benefits cannot be changed and your cost of living increases are guaranteed. #2, take the surplus that’s coming in right now and actually put it into individual accounts so people have ownership of this surplus instead of the money being raided to pay for current government expenditures. And #3, give younger workers the opportunity to have personal retirement accounts. Those personal retirement accounts will grow faster and produce more. So my question is, if you’re not for personal retirement accounts, how much are you going to raise their taxes? Or how much are you going to cut benefits to fix Social Security?

CASEY: I don’t agree with your premise. I don’t think you’re talking about a crisis. The crisis is privatization. Your guarantee is what The Philadelphia Inquirer called “snake oil.”

SANTORUM: That’s no answer.

Source: PA 2006 Senate Debate, Tim Russert moderator , Sep 3, 2006

No privatization; but voluntary personal retirement accounts

My colleagues will not hear me use the term "privatization." Privatization intimates to the American public that we are going to abandon the current Social Security system and turn it over to completely private accounts, which is not what any proposal on this side of the aisle or what the President's commission suggested. What the President's commission suggested, what every bill over on this side of the aisle proposes--and, by the way, joined in a bipartisan fashion and has historically been a bipartisan issue--is to take a portion of the contribution that comes into the Social Security Administration and give people the option voluntarily to establish a personal retirement account to be part of their Social Security benefit which continues to be guaranteed as it is, as much as it is, under current law. So let's understand that we are still talking about the foundation of this system being the same. We have proposed a solution that uses the power of the market, which uses individual choice.w
Source: Santorum speech in "A Senator Speaks Out", p. 71 , Sep 22, 2003

Raise retirement age? Maybe. Private investment? Yes.

Senator Santorum, on a videotape made in 1994, said he planned to raise the retirement age for Social Security benefits and to privatize the program. Santorum says he believes that Social Security should not be paid out until workers hit the age of 70. “It is ridiculous that we have a retirement age in this country of age 65 today,” Santorum says emphatically, noting that many people receive benefits for two decades before dying. “Push it back to at least age 70,” continues the senator. “I’d go even further if I could, but I don’t think I could pass it.”

Santorum has since backed away from raising the retirement age, but he’s in the forefront of pushing for younger workers to be allowed to invest part of their payroll taxes themselves. He says it is their money and they have a right to try for better returns than the program currently provides.

Source: Jill Zuckman, Boston Globe, p. A1 & A12 , May 15, 2000

Social Security needs reform sooner rather than later

Santorum says the Social Security program is in grave danger of going bankrupt and if the future insolvency is not addressed now, it will be much more difficult to deal with later. “There’s an absolute certainty that Social Security will run out of money, and benefits will be cut and taxes will go up,” Santorum said. “[Democrats] are ignoring the fact that Social Security is in trouble; they’re just saying, ‘Oh, this is a risky scheme.’”
Source: Jill Zuckman, Boston Globe, p. A12 , May 15, 2000

Let's grow the pie using private market system

Let's grow the pie. Let's invest this [Trust Fund] money, not in Treasury bonds that earn a very small rate of return--in fact, if you are entering thwe work force now, the rate of return on Social Security taxes you are going to pay is below zero. That is not a good deal for young people in this country. But what we have to do is transition the system using the ideas of growth in producing more retirement income for people who are just entering the work force, but at the same time, make sure that we do not change what has been promised to those at or near retirement. That is our challenge. But with challenge comes tremendous opportunity; in crisis comes a tremendous will to be innovative in using the private market systems. Social Security was never intended to be the sole source of retirement. As a result, it is a very modest amount. What we need to do is enhance that. We can do that, but we must use the power of the marketplace, the power of investment and savings.
Source: Santorum speech in "A Senator Speaks Out", p. 58 , Apr 1, 1998

Voted YES on Social Security Lockbox & limiting national debt.

This vote limited debate on the amendment offered by Sen. Abraham (R-MI) that would have created a Social Security "lockbox" and establish limits on the public debt. [A YES vote was for a lockbox]. This vote failed because 3/5 of the Senate did not vote.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)54; N)45; NV)1
Reference: Motion to invoke cloture on Amdt #254 to S. 557; Bill S. 557 ; vote number 1999-90 on Apr 22, 1999

Voted YES on allowing Roth IRAs for retirees.

Senator Roth (R-DE) offered this amendment to the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act to allow people older than 70.5 with incomes over $100,000 to move funds from an Individual Retirement Account into a Roth IRA.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)56; N)42; NV)2
Reference: Roth Amdt #2339; Bill H.R. 2676 ; vote number 1998-120 on May 6, 1998

Voted YES on allowing personal retirement accounts.

Vote on an amendment expressing the sense of the Senate that the Finance Committee should consider legislation to use the federal budget surplus to establish personal retirement accounts as a supplement to Social Security.
Reference: Bill S.Con.Res.86 ; vote number 1998-56 on Apr 1, 1998

Voted YES on deducting Social Security payments on income taxes.

Vote on an amendment to establish an income tax deduction for Social Security taxes paid by employees and the self-employed.
Reference: Bill S Con Res 57 ; vote number 1996-140 on May 22, 1996

Rated 10% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record.

Santorum scores 10% by the ARA on senior issues

The mission of the Alliance for Retired Americans is to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities.

The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.

Source: ARA website 03n-ARA on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Social Security: Rick Santorum on other issues:
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Rep.Michele Bachmann(MN)
Herman Cain(GA)
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Gov.Jon Huntsman(UT)
Gov.Gary Johnson(NM)
Rep.Thaddeus McCotter(MI)
Rep.Ron Paul(TX)
Gov.Rick Perry(TX)
Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
Gov.Mitt Romney(MA)
Sen.Rick Santorum(PA)
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Page last updated: Mar 07, 2012