What is Mitt Romney’s Stance on Social Security Disability?

Submitted by Daniel on

In the heat of debates among Republican presidential nominees, the topic of Social Security reform has stood out from the rest as highly controversial and potentially crucial, especially in states such as Florida which have a high population of retirees dependent on the SSA’s retirement or disability benefits program.

GOP candidate Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, has received criticism from both political parties for his seemingly changing stance on the presidential debates’ hot topic.

In the most recent series of debates in the state of Florida, Romney appeared opposite his key rival, Texas governor Rick Perry, and challenged his stance on Social Security reform. Perry proposed in a recent publication that each state should take over responsibility for the federal Social Security programs, a suggestion which Romney attacked in the recent Florida debates, declaring that it simply wouldn’t work. Romney also claimed Perry had termed Social Security “unconstitutional” and countered with his own declaration that there should be no question as to the constitutionality of Social Security.

During the entire span of the debates, Romney attacked Perry’s stance on Social Security changes which would call for at least the partial privatization of the program, diverting funds from current payroll tax contributions into private investment accounts.

Surprisingly, during Romney’s last run for president in 2007, his views were closer to Perry’s, which mirror those of former President George W. Bush. Although it can’t be certain how strongly he supported privatization, it is clear his views have changed to a more cautious approach to reforming the program.

In his recent book, No Apology, Romney reveals that the 2008 stock market crash greatly diminished his faith in the security of investing retirement funds in the stock market. He still supports a form of privatization, but one which would be phased in over time to allow for the adjustment. Furthermore, he no longer believes that any funds should be taken from the payroll contributions to the Social Security Trust Fund, but that private investment accounts could be added in addition to the existing program. Instead of a mandatory program, as the Bush Administration had proposed, Romney’s ideal would be optional.

Although an analysis of Romney’s proposed reforms to Social Security seem to indicate a strong similarity to former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s “Social Security Plus,” most Democrats aren’t eager to believe his stance is as friendly to Social Security as it appears to be, and still insist he plans to destroy Social Security as we know it, gambling senior’s retirement funds on the stock market.

While Democrats are far from embracing Romney’s less drastic views of Social Security reform, neither are many of his own political party pleased with his departure from their strong stance that privatization is the only fix for the bankruptcy-bound system.

In the ensuing debates, it will become more clear exactly what Romney’s Social Security reforms would look like and if this will win him any sway with those who are dissatisfied with Democrats who refuse to acknowledge the need for Social Security reform, or continue to alienate him from his own party’s views.

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