Friday, April 01, 2005

Unions Stumping Against Social Security Reform

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) really doesn't want workers to have the ability to invest in Social Security Private Savings Accounts. The reason for their reticence is really quite simple: successful change in Social Security might lead reformers to eye the disastrous public pension system that is screaming for improvement.

Personal accounts fix several problems. Shifting those payroll dollars (and their corresponding future payout liability) out of the system creates a relatively pain-free (for the government) lock box that prevents raiding the dwindling Trust Fund surpluses and compounding the problems in the future. Decades down the road rather than facing huge tax increases and/or benefit cuts we would be discussing lowering payroll tax rates because the majority of Social Security money would be coming from well-funded personal accounts. This is what the reform opponents are scared of when they talk about "dismantling the system." If we can limit government in this pension program, we can similarly reform the public pension funds and the big unions would lose much of their power over their members and our tax dollars. The debate is no more complicated than that.

The Department of Labor has been asked to investigate allegedly illegal activities by the big unions in their campaigns to stifle reform. If they are compelled to stop their intimidation tactics, we will be able to have a real discussion about real reform. We remain optimistic.