President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security would send tens of thousands of Idaho senior citizens into poverty, says a report released by the group Idahoans United to Protect Social Security. The report, produced by a Washington D.C.-based think tank labeled the Institute for America's Future, estimates that as many as 28,000 retirees in Idaho are currently 90 percent dependent or more upon Social Security, and that privatization would inevitably result in significant benefit cuts for Idaho beneficiaries.
Currently, according to the Social Security Administration, Social Security replaces about 42.5 percent of the income a worker earned during a typical year. According to the report, however, privatized systems would never have been able to match that replacement rate at any point since Social Security began in 1940. Stock market fluctuations would have yielded income rates as low as 18 percent in 1978, up to 39 percent in 1999. Looking forward, the plan's authors estimate that the Idaho government would have to immediately provide $2.1 billion to provide retirees with a level of income that replaces previous levels of Social Security, regardless of stock market performance.
"Investing in the stock market is great for people who can afford to assume risks," said the Rev. Dave Beck, a speaker at the report's release. "It is not the place for the resources which must be our safety net. I'm probably OK, but I certainly worry for my son's future, and that of his children."