Social Security System "Broken": Commission Report

July 20, 2001 ( ? ?The system is broken? ? so says the preface to a report drafted by the bi-partisan commission charged with making recommendations for a Social Security overhaul. And the fixes could have major implications for the nation's private pension system.

It needs to be repaired quickly, if benefit cuts, tax increases or a ballooning fiscal deficit is to be avoided, the preface, by co-chairmen Senator Patrick Moynihan (D-New York) and AOL Time Warner Chief Operating Officer Dick Parsons, goes on to say.

The report, which will be discussed at the commission?s meeting next week, forms the basis of the commission?s work towards drafting a course of action for setting up individual accounts through which workers can invest in securities, an idea supported by President Bush.

Political Promises

“Retirees have no legal ownership over their Social Security benefits,” the preface reads. “Instead, what they have is a political promise that can be changed at any time, by any amount, for any reason”.

“In any retirement system a lack of legal ownership is a source of insecurity. In one that is under-financed by over 25%, it is a problem on its way to becoming a crisis,’ it continues.

The reports states that “workers are not accumulating financial assets for the future,” and they are investing their “payroll taxes not in financial assets but in the willingness of future politicians to tax future workers to pay future benefits.’

The commission faces opposition from critics who argue that the system?s problems are manageable and that the problems facing the Social Security system have been exaggerated for political reason.

The Commission’s Web Site is