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Positions on Retirement Security: Democratic vs. Republican

democrats_vs_republicans_retirement_security.pngEstimated reading time: 4 minutes 

Ideally, the positions of the candidates on retirement policy should mirror the platform of their party.  In this unusual election year however, there are some disconnects. As mentioned in my first post: What the 2016 Presidential Candidates Have to Say about Retirement, the candidates’ parties may not necessarily reflect what the public thinks the party is: The Republican Party’s putative candidate, Donald Trump, may not reflect the current party’s policies or platform, nor may Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, those of the Democratic Party.


The Established Republican Party Position

“While no changes should adversely affect any current or near-retiree, comprehensive reform should address our society's remarkable medical advances in longevity and allow younger workers the option of creating their own personal investment accounts as supplements to the system. Younger Americans have lost all faith in the Social Security system, which is understandable when they read the non- partisan actuary's reports about its future funding status. Born in an old industrial era beyond the memory of most Americans, it is long overdue for major change, not just another legislative stopgap that postpones a day of reckoning. To restore public trust in the system, Republicans are committed to setting it on a sound fiscal basis that will give workers control over, and a sound return on, their investments. The sooner we act, the sooner those close to retirement can be reassured of their benefits and younger workers can take responsibility for planning their own retirement decades from now.” (https://www.gop.com/platform/reforming-government/ )


Where Trump Agrees and Diverges

Here are a few key differences in Donald Trump’s position:

  • He opposes privatization of Social Security
  • He proposes a one-time 14.25% tax on individuals and trusts valued in excess of $10 million

Trump agrees with the Republican positions on:

  • Setting Social Security on a sound fiscal basis, specifically claiming that he would never support what has to be the craziest ideas in the history of U.S. politics: allowing the government to invest Social Security retirement funds in the stock market.
  • Allowing individuals to invest directly part of their Social Security assets in their own accounts or in their own businesses. In effect, this kind of retirement savings is already allowed through IRAs and 401(k) plans.


The Established Democratic Party Position

“We believe every American deserves a secure, healthy, and dignified retirement. During their working years, Americans contribute to Social Security in exchange for a promise that they will receive an income in retirement. Unlike those in the other party, we will find a solution to protect Social Security for future generations. We will block Republican efforts to subject Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market through privatization. We reject approaches that insist that cutting benefits is the only answer. (We) will also make it easier for Americans to save on their own for retirement and prepare for unforeseen expenses by participating in retirement accounts at work."

“Democrats believe that Social Security and Medicare must be kept strong for seniors, people with disabilities, and future generations. Our opponents have shown a shocking willingness to gut these programs to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest, and we fundamentally reject that approach."

“We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American, starting with pension reform, expanding saving incentives and preventing the privatization of Social Security."

“Democrats believe that after a life of hard work, you earn a secure retirement. Our commitment to protecting the promise of Social Security is absolute."

“Democrats also recognize that Americans rely on more than just Social Security for a secure and dignified retirement. Democrats will continue to fight for genuine pension reform that protects employees’ financial security from future Enron-style abuse. We also want to work on new ways to help hard-working Americans create retirement savings.”


Where Clinton Agrees and Diverges

Here is how Hillary Clinton’s positions mesh with those of the Democratic Party:

  • Her proposal to “expand Social Security for those who need it most and who are treated unfairly by the current system — including women who are widows and those who took significant time out of the paid workforce to take care of their children, aging parents, or ailing family members” is not part of the current Democratic Party platform.
  • Otherwise, her positions align with her party’s. She opposes cuts in cost-of-living adjustment and wants to keep the retirement age at 66 or 67 for people now in the workforce. She also opposes privatizing Social Security.


Other articles in this series:


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