So, taken together, just those two steps would lower Social Security's long-term shortfall by well over half – 58 percent – and that is just for starters. There are other options – options that fall far short of gambling with risky private accounts – that could strengthen the program even more.
Some people are trying to present the idea of private accounts in fancy wrapping and colorful ribbons. They are promoting a kind of "free lunch" – Social Security changes that somehow seem to pay for themselves. But, we should remember: All that glitters is not gold!
These plans could easily leave you, your children and grandchildren with more debt, less security, and quite possibly, less income. That's a broken promise that we cannot afford to accept.
There is a lot at stake in this debate. As I've noted, the trillions of dollars it would cost to transition to a private account system may well lead to higher interest rates that will squeeze the federal budget.
The result would be higher taxes and higher interest costs for everyone. This clearly would be bad for the economy, bad for family budgets, and bad for future generations of Americans.
Let me be clear: AARP is not against private savings and investment accounts when they're funded by you and, hopefully, your employer. Such private accounts are an excellent savings tool, but in addition to Social Security, not in place of Social Security.
It is extremely important that our children and grandchildren begin now setting money aside to invest and save for their retirement. Knowing they can count on Social Security's guaranteed benefits, they can make their investment choices with greater peace of mind. But, under no circumstances should we weaken Social Security by taking money from it to create private accounts.
And, let me be clear about something else. AARP's opposition to private accounts funded by Social Security is not a liberal position, or a conservative position, or a Republican position, or a Democrat position – it's a common-sense position that can and should be supported by people of all political persuasions and ideologies who care about the future retirement security of our children and grandchildren.
Let's ask ourselves two important questions:
As a nation that claims to value the well-being, dignity and security of every citizen, do we really want to abandon those principles and leave millions of older Americans to fend for themselves?
And, as a nation that has always recognized that a house divided cannot stand, do we really want to use Social Security as a generational dividing line, pitting old against young?
President Franklin Roosevelt said – during his radio address on Social Security's third anniversary:
"…In our efforts to provide security for all American people, let us not allow ourselves to be misled by those who advocate short cuts to Utopia or fantastic financial schemes."
My friends, with your help, we will strengthen Social Security and keep its promise now and for generations to come.