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Tom Vilsack on Social Security

Democratic IA Governor


If US govít were a business, balance sheet looks mismanaged

Q: What are your plans for insuring the finances of Social Security and Medicare?

A: Letís be up front about the magnitude of the problem. If the US government were a corporation and they had to report to the shareholders, and they had to list the unfunded liability of Social Security and Medicare, can you imagine what that would look like on the balance sheet? Well, Iíll tell you, the most conservative number is $39 trillion. This has been mismanaged for an extended period of time.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada , Feb 21, 2007

Index by prices instead of wages, to maintain stability

Q: What are your plans for insuring the finances of Social Security?

A: First and foremost, youíre going to have to take a look at the way in which Social Security is indexed. Currently, itís indexed based on wages and price. We can index it on price and still maintain the stability of Social Security and maintain the purchasing power of Social Security without necessarily jeopardizing the future of Social Security.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada , Feb 21, 2007

Create Retirement Savings Accounts.

Vilsack signed the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Balance Americaís Commitments to the Young and the Old
An ever-growing share of the federal budget today consists of automatic transfers from working Americans to retirees. Moreover, the costs of the big entitlements for the elderly -- Social Security and Medicare -- are growing at rates that will eventually bankrupt them and that could leave little to pay for everything else government does. We canít just spend our way out of the problem; we must find a way to contain future costs. The federal government already spends seven times as much on the elderly as it does on children. To allow that ratio to grow even more imbalanced would be grossly unfair to todayís workers and future generations. In addition, Social Security and Medicare need to be modernized to reflect conditions not envisioned when they were created in the 1930s and the 1960s. Social Security, for example, needs a stronger basic benefit to bolster its critical role in reducing poverty in old age. Medicare needs to offer retirees more choices and a modern benefit package that includes prescription drugs. Such changes, however, will only add to the cost of the programs unless they are accompanied by structural reforms that restrain their growth and limit their claim on the working families whose taxes support the programs.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC7 on Aug 1, 2000

Maintain long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare.

Vilsack adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

With the first federal budget surplus in a generation and estimates of non-Social Security surpluses ranging from $750 billion to $1.9 trillion over the next decade, the issue is whether Congress and the President will agree to dedicate a portion of the projected surplus to tax cuts and, if so, what the impacts on states might be.

NGAís Position

NGA opposes reductions from current discretionary spending levels or changes that could risk the long-term solvency of the nationís Social Security and Medicare systems. NGA supports provisions to ensure reduced barriers to state and local capital finance through tax-exempt bonds and to ensure maximum flexibility in setting and maintaining state retirement plans and programs.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA16 on Aug 1, 2001

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Social Security.
  • Click here for policy papers on Social Security.
  • Click here for a profile of Tom Vilsack.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Tom Vilsack.
Other candidates on Social Security: Tom Vilsack on other issues:
Obama Administration:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
State:John Kerry
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoD:Chuck Hagel
A.G.:Eric Holder
HHS:Kathleen Sebelius
USDA:Tom Vilsack

First Obama Administration:
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
DOT:Ray LaHood
DOI:Ken Salazar
DOL:Hilda Solis

Former Bush Administration:
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

Former Clinton Administration:
HUD:Andrew Cuomo
V.P.Al Gore
Labor:Robert Reich
A.G.:Janet Reno
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Page last updated: Jul 12, 2013