Perspectives from the President's Commission on Social Security Reform*
In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, composed of sixteen members from both major political parties. Members were tasked with providing the president with recommendations on how to modernize the Social Security system, restore its fiscal soundness, and develop a workable system of personal retirement accounts as part of a newly structured program. This chapter presents perspectives on Social Security reform, drawn from service on the President's Commission. It begins with a discussion of the use of personal retirement accounts as a method of prefunding the Social Security system. The Commission to Strengthen Social Security developed three reform scenarios that incorporate personal retirement accounts as a central element in a modernized system of old-age security. The chapter focuses on one reform plan in particular — one that promises an enhanced and more reliable safety net while also providing workers the opportunity to invest in personal accounts with diversified investment choice and potentially lower risk. It is argued that reforms of this sort can help put Social Security on a self-financing basis for the first time in over a quarter of a century.
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