Rep. Sabo leads Social Security talk on campus

Ryan Dionne

A capacity crowd saw Rep. Martin Sabo, D-Minn., lead a panel discussion on Social Security on Thursday in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs’ Cowles Auditorium.

The topic has been a frequent focus of debate throughout the country as changes to the federal program are being explored by a number of politicians.

The congressman has proposed one bill on the subject to prevent the Social Security system from depletion.

Under his plan, all workers would put 4.7 percent of their incomes into a Social Security fund they could tap into after retirement.

Presently, the rate paid into the fund varies from year to year, depending on the bond market rates.

Sabo said the current method creates uncertainty in the future of the program because nobody can accurately predict the trends of interest rates.

His bill would eliminate that uncertainty by using a fixed rate to ensure money going out of the fund doesn’t disappear faster than it appears, he said.

President George W. Bush announced his viewpoint during his State of the Union address this month and has been advocating a change to the system around the country.

Bush’s proposal would eventually allow workers to put 4 percent of their payroll taxes into a fund of their choice.

The fund would contain a combination of stocks and bonds, similar to the retirement program for federal employees.

The myth that Social Security will disappear soon if nothing is done was generated by conservatives, and people believe it, Sabo said.

He said Social Security will be around for approximately 70 years, but his bill will help extend that.

“The reality is, the Social Security trust fund is in reasonably good shape,” Sabo said.

Still, it needs some adjustments, he said.

Because the money is going out of the fund faster than it’s coming in, if changes aren’t made, people might only receive 80 percent of their benefits, he said.

Former Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey, one of the panelists, said, “Social Security is the foundation of retirement planning.”

Sabo said a problem with Bush’s plan is that private investing replaces the Social Security foundation instead of building on it.

The most significant way Sabo’s bill will help young adults is that Social Security will still benefit them, he said.

“I think the biggest losers (under Bush’s plan) are going to be the young people of this country,” Sabo said.

Young voters don’t always think about retirement at this point in their lives, but the day will come, he said.

Luis Garcia, a political science and psychology student, said, “I think students need to educate themselves in a better way.”

Despite low student turnout at the event, Sabo encouraged young adults to get involved in the issue.