Topic: Accuracy in Media
In fact, the voluntary optional private accounts advocated by Clinton, Moynihan, Kerry, and Bush were originally recommended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the founder of Social Security. In 1935, in a written statement to Congress, FDR recommended that the system should eventually include "voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age."
Actually, according to Media Matters:
Roosevelt was not advocating that the present system of guaranteed Social Security benefits "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans." Rather, he was proposing that both mandatory contributions and voluntary annuities would eventually eliminate the need for a different fund which was established to provide pension benefits to Americans who were already too old in 1935 to contribute payroll taxes to the Social Security system.
Roosevelt outlined the three major tenets he envisioned for Social Security in the January 17, 1935, speech that Hume quoted. As the Social Security Administration (SSA) has noted, these tenets are: 1) "non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance"; 2) "compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations"; and 3) "voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age."
During 1935 congressional hearings on Roosevelt's Social Security bill, Edwin Witte, executive director of the Committee on Economic Security (CES), clearly stated that the voluntary accounts were intended as a "separate undertaking" meant to "supplement" the compulsory system, not replace it: "The voluntary system of old-age annuities we suggest as a supplement to the compulsory plan." Further, voluntary annuities would be "similar to those issued by commercial insurance companies" -- as Witte explained -- but they would differ from private accounts in that their funds would be deposited into and paid out of the Social Security trust fund, and they would provide a government-guaranteed benefit like mandatory contributions. Prominent contemporary Democrats support Roosevelt's idea of supplemental government-sponsored investment accounts that are paid for by non-Social Security funds, although unlike Roosevelt's plan, these accounts would not be linked to the trust fund.
Zeifman also falsely claimed that President Bush's Social Security privatization plan "called for the investment of no more than 4 percent of revenues." In fact, the plan allowed workers to divert up to 4 percent of their wages into a private account. Since 12.4 percent of a worker's wages are paid into Social Security, that mean as much as one-third of Social Security revenue -- not 4 percent -- would be affected by private accounts.
Zeifman again loudly proclaims, as is his wont, that he's a Democrat, this time stating that he's "a life-long left of center liberal Democrat who once successfully represented 38 AFL-CIO unions in litigation against the Carter administrations unlawful outsourcing of defense production to a number of foreign countries." But he's one of those Newsmax Democrats who claim Democratic membership as a very thin cover to attack them on right-wing websites.