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Olympia Snowe on Social Security

Republican Sr Senator (ME)


No progressive indexing and no private accounts

In April 2005, Bush embraced a proposal that would have protected low-wage workers and cut Social Security's projected shortfall. The idea, "progressive indexing," was proposed by a Democratic commission member and investment manager. Everyone would get Social Security check equal to or greater in purchasing power than they would receive today, but low-wage earners would receive the more generous benefit increases the country could not afford for everyone. A NY Times survey showed support for the idea. But it did nothing to change the situation on Capitol Hill.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley tried, and failed, to broker an agreement among his committee's Republicans. He was willing to shelve private accounts to get support from the moderate Republican senators Gordon Smith of Oregon and Olympia Snowe of Maine, but they wouldn't embrace a solvency fix like progressive indexing.

In the end, the Republican Congress never voted on a reform plan. Social security was a public failure.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.408-410 , Mar 9, 2010

Voted NO 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 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 NO 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 NO 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.

Snowe 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

Require small businesses to allow automatic IRA deposits.

Snowe co-sponsored requiring small businesses to allow automatic IRA deposits

Women's Retirement Security Act of 2008: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to increase the retirement security of women and small business owners. Amends the Internal Revenue Code to:

  1. require certain small employers who do not provide retirement plans for their employees to allow eligible employees to participate in a payroll deposit individual retirement account arrangement (automatic IRA);
  2. expand eligibility for the tax credit for retirement savings contributions (saver's credit) and make such credit refundable;
  3. allow part-time employees to participate in qualified cash or deferred arrangements;
  4. allow the transfer of up to $500 of unused health plan benefits to qualified retirement plans;
  5. treat wage replacement income (e.g., disability pay or unemployment compensation) as earned income for purposes of IRA contribution limits; and
  6. allow self-employed individuals to deduct pension plan contributions from their self-employment income.
Source: Women's Retirement Security Act (HR5543/S1288) 08-S1288 on Mar 6, 2008

Supports individual savings accounts and work incentives.

Snowe adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership issue stance:

Congress must address the rapidly approaching disaster of a depleted Social Security system. Within the next ten years "baby boomers" will start retiring. It is estimated that, as a result of this, by 2013 Social Security will be making greater payments to retirees than it will take in from the workforce. By 2032 the Social Security Trust Fund will be completely exhausted. Congress could rewrite this forecast by establishing individual savings accounts, restoring Social Security to permanent actuarial solvency, improving work incentives and/or resolving internal administrative problems.

Source: Republican Main St. Partnership Issue Paper: Fiscal Policy 98-RMSP3 on Sep 9, 1998

Other candidates on Social Security: Olympia Snowe on other issues:
ME Gubernatorial:
Eliot Cutler
Michael Michaud
Paul LePage
ME Senatorial:
Angus King
Scott D`Amboise
Susan Collins

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Contact info:
Fax Number:
202-224-1946
Mailing Address:
Senate Office SR-154, Washington, DC 20510
Phone number:
(202) 224-5344

Page last updated: Aug 10, 2014