Friday, April 16, 2010

Halter and Lincoln Battle on Social Security

Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln and her Democratic primary challenger, Lt. Governor Bill Halter, are having a nice mud-slinging regarding who supported Social Security privatization. (See this story – obviously biased toward Halter's view – at Talking Points Memo.)

Lincoln has criticized Halter for supporting the Clinton administration's plan to invest part of the Social Security trust fund in stocks. While that would have retained the defined benefit character of Social Security it would also have subjected the program's ability to pay future benefits to fluctuations in the stock market, which was a key Democratic criticism of President Bush's plans for Social Security reform including personal accounts.

Halter has criticized Lincoln for, at some points at least, seeming open-minded about personal accounts, though the Lincoln quotes I've seen to date hardly seem incriminating in that regard (to the degree you view support for accounts as a crime, which I don't, but then I don't vote in Democratic primaries). I don't know that much regarding Lincoln's true stance, but I had always seen her as an "add on" person, who would favor supplemental savings accounts not funded through the Social Security tax.

Far be it for me to cast judgment, but it seems that neither Halter nor Lincoln really supported what we'd call "privatization." (I long ago wondered what the left really meant by privatization, in any case.) But if they want to spend their time talking about past positions rather than what we should do now, that's up to them.

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