Should Workers Be Able to Opt out of Social Security for a Privatized Account?

Gingrich unveils a Social Security overhaul which would allow workers to invest in private accounts.

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Former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich Monday unveiled his plan to partially privatize Social Security while speaking at Saint Anselm College's Institute of Politics in Manchester, N.H. Under his overhaul, younger workers could choose not to put their portion of the payroll tax into the government's social security account and rather put it into a private retirement fund of their choice. Their employers would still pay into the government system to sustain Social Security, and thus workers would have access to government Social Security when they retired as well. Gingrich said he modeled his plan after the one in Chile; according to Gingrich the return on private investments in the Chilean version have been so good that its retired recipients have not even needed the government portion of their payments.

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Former President Bush attempted a similar partial privatization of Social Security in 2005 but was unable to garner enough bipartisan support to pass it. Critics say that private investing puts retirement funds at unnecessary risk, particularly given market volatility. Gingrich contends that his program would be completely by choice, aimed at young people through social media, "I wouldn't make it my program. I'm not going to go around the country trying to sell it." He said he did not plan on instituting any changes that would affect current beneficiaries, and that he is still deciding when and how best to phase in the overhaul. He told reporters he would pay for the transition period by giving states block grants for 185 federal welfare programs like Medicaid for them to administer themselves.

What do you think? Should workers be able to opt out of government Social Security? Take the poll and comment below.

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Previously: Who is to Blame for the Failure of the Super Committee?