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Jim DeMint on Social Security

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (SC-4)


Transition younger workers into personal savings system

The Senate Conservatives Fund has developed a questionnaire that we require candidates to complete before we consider an endorsement. A candidate's answers to these questions will reveal whether they consistently apply conservative principles to their positions on important issues.
Source: Senate Conservatives Fund in "Now Or Never", p.224 , Jan 10, 2012

Social Security mess is another failed progressive policy

Social Security was originally intended to be a safety net against poverty for older Americans. When it was created, workers and employers each paid 1% of the first $3,000 of a worker's salary (a maximum of $30 per year for workers). Today, Social Security is the largest tax paid by many Americans (a combined employee/employer contribution of 12.4% of the first $106,800 of wages paid). Today, the federal government automatically puts all of the money that should be set aside for the Trust Fund into the General Fund.

Contrary to what many progressives love to say, there is no money in the Trust Fund to pay future benefits. Furthermore, the fundamentally flawed program faces a severe demographic crisis as members of the baby boom generation begin to retire. The mess we face with Social Security, a program so many are now dependent on, is yet another example of a failed progressive policy, where the potential for unintended consequences was ignored at the program's inception.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p. 80-81 , Jan 10, 2012

Tax-free lump sum payment as alternative to benefits

Social Security can be saved without cutting benefits to seniors if politicians are willing to give workers and seniors more choices based on individual freedom and responsibility. One idea is to give all retired and retiring seniors with alternative sources of income the option of taking a tax-free lump sum payment equal to of their projected actuarial payout.

If only a small percent of seniors took this option, it would save the country billions of dollars. This arrangement would also encourage younger workers to save more so they could cash out of Social Security when they retire.

Another freedom option would be to allow workers over 50 to opt out of future Social Security benefits. These workers would keep their portion of Social Security taxes (6.2%) for the remainder of their working lives if they purchased an annuity that guaranteed a base income when they retired. This could save individuals $1000s a year and spare the government billions of future Social Security payments.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p.176 , Jan 10, 2012

Right to own a personal Social Security account

Socialists use the perceived victim status of groups to promote a collectivist or group-oriented approach to government, even when government is responsible for the injustice. The contrast between America's social and political philosophies is the most distinct on this point. Those with socialist leanings generally push for group-oriented, universal, government-directed solutions to societal problems. Those who believe in freedom believe government should facilitate free choices and equal treatment for all individuals. I'll mention a few examples.

Those who see individuals as incapable of making good decisions want a universal, government-owned, national pension plan (Social Security) with all retired Americans dependent (at least in part) on the government for their income. Those who understand how freedom works will fight for the right of every American to have a personal Social Security account they own and the government can't spend.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 69 , Jul 4, 2009

Social Security program is built on debt and dependency

Social Security is a promise to seniors America must keep, but it is another government program built on debt and dependency. Today's generation of seniors is happy with Social Security because they will, on average, get more from the program than they put in. But the federal government has not saved one penny of the 12.5% it takes out of every American's paycheck. In 2017 Social Security taxes will no longer pay promised retirement benefits, and there is no money in the so-called Trust Fund.
Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 80 , Jul 4, 2009

People should own their Social Security accounts

Two years before the 1998 elections, I decided I would run for Congress. I ran as a Republican because their ideas of personal responsibility, limited government, and more freedom matched what I personally experienced as the reasons for America's greatness. My campaign slogan was "Bring Freedom Home." For me it was all about bringing dollars and decisions back to individuals, families, and communities.

My campaign platform was bold and naive. People should own their Social Security accounts, and the money they pay in Social Security taxes should be saved in a personal account the government can't spend. People should have the freedom to own a health insurance policy they can afford and keep from job to job. Parents should have many more choices of schools, and the money we spend on public education should follow the student and not be reserved solely for government-run schools. And finally, we should eliminate the personal income tax and the IRS.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 17 , Jul 4, 2009

Voted YES on establishing reserve funds & pre-funding for Social Security.

Voting YES would:
  1. require that the Federal Old Age and Survivors Trust Fund be used only to finance retirement income of future beneficiaries;
  2. ensure that there is no change to benefits for individuals born before January 1, 1951
  3. provide participants with the benefits of savings and investment while permitting the pre-funding of at least some portion of future benefits; and
  4. ensure that the funds made available to finance such legislation do not exceed the amounts estimated to be actuarially available.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Perhaps the worst example of wasteful spending is when we take the taxes people pay for Social Security and, instead of saving them, we spend them on other things. Even worse than spending Social Security on other things is we do not count it as debt when we talk about the deficit every year. So using the Social Security money is actually a way to hide even more wasteful spending without counting it as debt. This Amendment would change that.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This amendment has a fatal flaw. It leaves the door open for private Social Security accounts by providing participants with the option of "pre-funding of at least some portion of future benefits."

Make no mistake about it, this is a stalking-horse for Social Security. It looks good on the surface, but this is an amendment to privatize Social Security.
Reference: Bill S.Amdt.489 on S.Con.Res.21 ; vote number 2007-089 on Mar 22, 2007

Voted YES on raising 401(k) limits & making pension plans more portable.

Comprehensive Retirement Security and Pension Reform Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would raise the amount individuals may contribute to traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts and to 401[k] plans and make pensions plans more portable
Reference: Bill sponsored by Portman, R-OH; Bill HR 10 ; vote number 2001-96 on May 2, 2001

Voted YES on reducing tax payments on Social Security benefits.

Vote to pass a bill that would reduce the percentage of Social Security benefits that is taxable from 85 to 50 percent for single taxpayers with incomes over $25,000 and married couples with incomes over $32,000. The revenues that would be lost for the Medicare trust fund would be replaced by money from the general fund.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX; Bill HR 4865 ; vote number 2000-450 on Jul 27, 2000

Voted NO on strengthening the Social Security Lockbox.

Amending the Social Security Lockbox bill to require that any budget surplus cannot be spent until the solvency of Social Security and Medicare is guaranteed.
Reference: Motion to Recommit introduced by Rangel, D-NY; Bill HR 1259 ; vote number 1999-163 on May 26, 1999

Create personal retirement accounts within Social Security.

DeMint co-sponsored creating personal retirement accounts within Social Security

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT: One of the things I have consistently heard from folks back home is the very simple idea that the first part of saving Social Security is making sure that Social Security taxes stay with Social Security. That is what this bill does because it takes the Social Security surplus, whatever that happens to be, and simply rebates it back to the people paying Social Security taxes, not to go out and fix up the car or buy a refrigerator with it, but instead to go into their own personal Social Security savings account that would be held by a fiduciary like the local bank.

The individual could not get their hands on the money until they turn 65, but they would get a monthly statement and for the first time, because of the private property rights that come with an account like that, for the first time have a firewall created between political forces in D.C. and their Social Security surplus.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means; never called for a House vote.

Source: Personal Lockbox Act (H.R.4839) 00-HR4839 on Jul 12, 2000

Rated 33% by the ARA, indicating a mixed record on senior issues.

DeMint scores 33% 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

Supports private retirement accounts.

DeMint supports the CC survey question on private retirement accounts

The Christian Coalition voter guide [is] one of the most powerful tools Christians have ever had to impact our society during elections. This simple tool has helped educate tens of millions of citizens across this nation as to where candidates for public office stand on key faith and family issues.

The CC survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Allowing individuals to invest a portion of their Social Security tax in private retirement accounts"

Source: Christian Coalition Survey 10-CC-q6 on Aug 11, 2010

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Page last updated: Dec 23, 2013