Santorum Admits Privatizing Social Security Would Be Very Expensive, But He’d Still ‘Love To Be Able To Do It’

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"Santorum Admits Privatizing Social Security Would Be Very Expensive, But He’d Still ‘Love To Be Able To Do It’"

For years, 2012 Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has been a staunch advocate of Social Security privatization. In fact, he called privatization the “great hope” for Social Security, and even referenced his support of privatization on the day he officially announced his candidacy for president.

However, Santorum has tried to have it both ways when it comes to his favored policy recently, saying that even though he still favors privatization, he doesn’t think it is appropriate to implement it now due to the state of the economy. During an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd today, Santorum admitted that one of the factors leading him to the conclusion that Social Security shouldn’t be privatized right now is the cost of setting up private accounts:

What I said was that, in recent interviews, is that the idea of going to personal accounts right now is just, I think, a little too tough. Because we have, at the time I was proposing them back in the ’90s and even into the early part of the 2000′s, we had a surplus in Social Security, we could afford, we could finance personal accounts, to begin that process of transitioning Social Security into a program that I think is much more robust for future generations. Now the rubber’s hit the road. Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it’s collecting in taxes, we have a $1.4 trillion deficit, and the idea of financing personal retirement accounts, in addition to having to pay for Social Security benefits, is to me just something that we can’t do right now. I’d love to be able to do it, but we can’t do it right now.

Watch it:

Santorum is absolutely right that privatizing Social Security would be prohibitively expensive. As Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Christian Weller explained, under a Bush-style privatization scheme, “money that was earmarked to pay current beneficiaries would no longer be available, requiring the government to borrow trillions of dollars to allow Social Security to pay for promised benefits. Without this borrowing, benefit cuts to current retirees would have to be made.”

But even if the country could afford the high cost of setting up such a system, it would still be a terrible idea, imposing new risks on seniors without setting Social Security on a path to solvency. Santorum admits that the cost of privatizing Social Security is a problem; now if only he would realize the rest of the consequences would be horrific as well.

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