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Social Security Reform Thursday: Week Thirty-Eight -- Disability Benefits.


Thursdays are good days for reform, because they fall between Wednesdays and Fridays. And reform is a long-haul process, not a fleeting event. So we're going to keep plugging along with the case for reform, even as the issue goes off the political radar screen.

That's why WILLisms.com offers a chart or graph, every Thursday, pertinent to Social Security reform.

This week's topic:

Reform = Better Disability Benefits.

Social Security reform is dead. Dead as a doornail. Fin. The feigned/manufactured hurricane controversy drove the final nail into the Social Security reform coffin.

So says the common wisdom.

Well, instant gratification would have been nice, but I've expected all along that this would be a marathon process.

First, you have to convince people there's a problem. Check.

Next, find a solution that can get enough votes in Congress. BZZZT. Does not compute.

Actually, though, just before Katrina hit, there was considerable-but-fragile political inertia behind a watered down Social Security reform plan. It would have stopped the raid on the Social Security surplus and devoted that money to the creation of private investment "lock box" accounts.

The fragile political will behind reform was washed away by the flood waters of Katrina.

But President Bush has not given up on Social Security reform. He's a true believer on the issue. In fact, I recall Bush speaking eloquently and authoritatively on the issue to a group of youngsters (me included) in 1995 or 1996, when he was Governor of Texas, far before any inkling of a serious White House run.

Bush believes Social Security reform is part of the solution to the poverty America became so upset about following Katrina:

"One way to spread ownership throughout our society, into neighborhoods where some may not own anything, is to allow (young people) to save some of their own (money) — their choice — in a personal savings account as part of Social Security reform," Bush said.

Ironically, paying for the hurricanes has made Americans refocus on government spending, and you cannot make significant spending cuts without addressing the big entitlement programs such as Social Security.

So I wouldn't count reform out entirely just yet. Yes, a great opportunity has come and gone, but if conservatives can regroup as a team, prospects for reform remain solid.

Herman Cain adds:

The direct threats to our national economic security come from moderate House and Senate Republicans who are too afraid to lead, and just as afraid to follow the leadership of conservatives who propose responsible solutions. The direct threats also come from nearly every Congressional Democrat. The majority of Congressional Democrats are too willing to stand on the sidelines of political debate and then obstruct the president on his every proposal.

That being said, one of the arguments anti-reform folks made regularly was that Social Security privatization would leave workers and their families in a precarious situation in the event of a sudden disability.

This argument was disingenuous, as Bush's proposals left the disability part of Social Security untouched.

But let's assume, for the sake of debate, that the disability portion of Social Security were to be "privatized." How would that affect benefit levels?

The National Center for Policy Analysis has the answer, based on actual results from three Texas counties (Galveston, Brazoria, and Matagorda), which opted out of Social Security in the early 1980s:

* A 60-year-old low-income worker is likely to receive more than twice as much in monthly disability income from the private plan as from Social Security ($2,106 vs. $1,013), while a high- income worker is likely to receive 3.4 times as much ($6,304 vs. $1,869).

* A single, 40-year-old middle-income worker receives $1,169 monthly under Social Security, and $1,753 if there is a dependent spouse, but that worker gets $2,201 a month under the private plan, regardless of marital status.

* A low-income, 21-year-old disabled worker under the private plan gets $829 a month, compared to $2,479 for a high-income worker, but a 21-year-old disabled worker under Social Security gets nothing.

And see the graphic:


Who would have guessed that a private plan could have offered better benefits for a disabled individual than Social Security?

Shocking, right?


It's time for reform.

The clock is ticking.


Previous Reform Thursday graphics can be seen here:

-Week One (Costs Exceed Revenues).
-Week Two (Social Security Can't Pay Promised Benefits).
-Week Three (Americans Getting Older).
-Week Three, bonus (The Templeton Curve).
-Week Four (Fewer Workers, More Retirees).
-Week Five (History of Payroll Tax Base Increases).
-Week Six (Seniors Living Longer).
-Week Six, bonus (Less Workers, More Beneficiaries).
-Week Seven (History of Payroll Tax Increases).
-Week Seven, bonus (Personal Accounts Do Achieve Solvency).
-Week Eight (Forty Year Trend Of Increasing Mandatory Spending).
-Week Nine (Diminishing Benefits Sans Reform).
-Week Ten (Elderly Dependence On Social Security).
-Week Eleven (Entitlement Spending Eating The Budget).
-Week Twelve (Benefit Comparison, Bush's Plan versus No Plan).
-Week Thirteen (Younger Americans and Lifecycle Funds).
-Week Fourteen (The Thrift Savings Plan).
-Week Fifteen (Understanding Progressive Indexing).
-Week Sixteen (The Graying of America).
-Week Seventeen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Eighteen (Debunking Myths).
-Week Nineteen (Reform Needed Sooner Rather Than Later).
-Week Twenty (Global Success With Personal Accounts).
-Week Twenty-One (GROW Accounts: Stopping The Raid).
-Week Twenty-Two (Millions of Lockboxes).
-Week Twenty-Three (Support for Ryan-DeMint).
-Week Twenty-Four (KidSave Accounts).
-Week Twenty-Five (Latinos and Social Security).
-Week Twenty-Six (AmeriSave).
-Week Twenty-Seven (Cost Of Doing Nothing).
-Week Twenty-Eight (Chile).
-Week Twenty-Nine (Entitlement Spending Out Of Control).
-Week Thirty (Reform Better Deal Than Status Quo).
-Week Thirty-One (Social Security As A Labor Cost).
-Week Thirty-Two (Social Security And Dependence On Government).
-Week Thirty-Three (Social Security, Currently A Bad Deal For African-Americans).
-Week Thirty-Four (Longer Life Expectancies Straining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Five (Howard Dean & Salami).
-Week Thirty-Six (Growing Numbers of Beneficiaries Draining Social Security).
-Week Thirty-Seven (The Crisis Is Now).

Tune into WILLisms.com each Thursday for more important graphical data supporting Social Security reform.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 October 2005 08:08 PM


I wonder if Bush wouldn't have been better off making a giant clamor announcing that he is forced to give up SS reform because of the intransigence and obstruction of the left.

He could have announced that since the left wishes to obstruct any attempt to fix it, they must accept the full responsibility for its eventual failure and they should not expect that people will anti up with emergency new taxes either!

He then could have taken out the ads (future proof) and announce-case closed. Now the failure is on them not himself.

Instead he just quietly gave up the issue!

Posted by: DL at October 28, 2005 07:54 AM

How do we motivate S.S. Reform? It is past time... if you ask me? It should have been reformed long ago!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at October 28, 2005 07:58 AM

Your photoshop is extremely offensive. Typical "Libertarians."

Posted by: freeper102 at October 28, 2005 10:00 AM