Manchester, NH (CNSNews.com) - Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer calls rival Steve Forbes's television spots on Social Security "a blueprint for social security bankruptcy." The spots are currently airing in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the nation's first presidential caucus and primary contest will take place.
Bauer's main concern is Forbes's intention to maintain the current system for older workers and those wishing to remain in it, while offering younger workers the chance to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in private-sector investments of their own choosing.
Bauer points to the Forbes campaign's Internet posting of October 21st, entitled "The Forbes New Economy Plan." Bauer notes it promises investment options to younger workers, in the form of Personal Retirement Accounts or PRAs.
According to the posting, Forbes would allow younger workers to post four percent of their Social Security taxes in a PRA in the year 2002, followed by five percent in 2003; six percent in 2004; and as much as eight percent by the Year 2008.
"Forbes is promising everything to everyone - again," said Bauer. "The payroll taxes that younger people pay are what pays the benefits of retirees and what earns the workers their place in a future system. But he promises to keep the benefits of the old system, while offering younger people the benefit of having their contributions put in their own private accounts. Is there a problem with this? Only that there is not enough money to pay the benefits," Bauer said.
"Eight percent is more than half of the entire Social Security funding source," said Bauer. "Steve Forbes proposes to obliterate more than half of the money available to pay retirement benefits, while maintaining those benefits. Where is the money going to come from?"
"Like the liberals he claims to disdain, Steve Forbes wants to offer benefits without reckoning with the costs or finding a source to pay those costs. The plan completely lacks legitimacy. It simply does not add up," said Bauer, a former domestic policy adviser in the Reagan administration.
Pointing to his own proposal, Bauer said his recommended 20 percent cut in the payroll tax will return the budget surplus to workers, "while leaving the economy sound and workable for our elderly and for future retirees as well."
"The Bauer proposal is fair and faithful to the Reagan legacy, while the Forbes proposal is the liberals' ideal of everything for everyone," Bauer said.
Bauer, Forbes and Alan Keyes are locked in a battle to emerge as the conservative alternative to current front-runners --Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
While Forbes broke into double digits in the most recent New Hampshire polls, Bauer and Keyes remain in the single digits. Forbes organizers in the state could not be reached for comment.