Candidates' positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found. Candidates who have changed their positions are listed as Now their most recent position. Candidates are listed by party and in alphabetical order by last name. Black & white photos indicate candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria for inclusion.
Virgil Goode, former US Representative (R-VA), stated the following on his campaign website page "The Issues," available at www.goodeforpresident2012.com (accessed May 14, 2012):
"We must preserve and protect Social Security. Social Security is owed over two trillion dollars. Social Security should be repaid and have real money in the Social Security Trust Fund and not IOU's." May 14, 2012 Virgil Goode
[Editor's Note: In a May 14, 2012 email to ProCon.org, Virgil Goode stated "All citizens who have or are paying deserve the benefits they have paid for" in response to our question "Should Social Security be privatized?"]
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, stated the following in the Jan. 19, 2010 "Interview with Gary Earl Johnson," available at www.rlc.org:
"Social Security is flawed. When it was brought into existence the life expectancy was 55. Benefits started at 65. Now, life expectancy is 75, and benefits start at about the same age. It's a Ponzi scheme. A combination of benefit reduction and/or privatization are necessary. At least part of Social Security should include private accounts that are counted in your estate." Jan. 19, 2010 Gary Johnson
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, stated the following in the Aug. 18, 2010 speech "Remarks by the President at a Discussion with Ohio Families on the Economy," available at www.whitehouse.gov:
"I have been adamant in saying that Social Security should not be privatized and it will not be privatized as long as I'm President. And here's the reason. I was opposed to it before the financial crisis. And what I said was the purpose of Social Security is to have that floor, that solid -- rock-solid security, so that no matter what else happens you've always got some income to support you in your retirement. And I've got no problem with people investing in their 401(k)s, and we want to encourage people to invest in private savings accounts. But Social Security has to be separate from that...
So here's the thing. Social Security is not in crisis. What is happening is, is that the population is getting older, which means we've got more retirees per worker than we used to. We're going to have to make some modest adjustments in order to strengthen it. There are some fairly modest changes that could be made without resorting to any newfangled schemes that would continue Social Security for another 75 years, where everybody would get the benefits that they deserve." Aug. 18, 2010 Barack Obama
Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, stated the following during the NBC News/Politico Republican presidential debate held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley on Sep. 7, 2011:
"Our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving Social Security. We have always had, at the heart of our party, a recognition that we want to care for those in need, and our seniors have the need of Social Security. I will make sure that we keep the program and we make it financially secure. We save Social Security. And under no circumstances would I ever say by any measure it's a failure. It is working for millions of Americans, and I'll keep it working for millions of Americans. And we've got to do that as a party."
Jill Stein, MD, former Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, stated the following in a Project Vote Smart "Political Courage Test," available at www.votesmart.org (accessed July 13, 2012):
"This proposal to turn our Social Security system over to private corporations would lead to huge losses for retirees who depend on Social Security. And it would create investment risks that cannot be tolerated in our Social Security program." July 13, 2012 Jill Stein
Michele Bachmann, US Representative (R-MN), stated the following in a Sep. 12, 2011 website post titled "Michele Bachmann on Social Security and Medicare," available at www.michelebachmann.com:
"Obamacare only makes things worse by taking $500 billion out of Medicare, and the President’s so-called Payroll Tax Holiday has accelerated the insolvency of Social Security, requiring additional funds from general revenue to cover current benefits for seniors.
There are those in Washington who overlook not only these programs’ efficiency problems, but also the fact they will bankrupt the United States if reforms are not put in place. Unfortunately, many Americans have been unduly frightened by scare talk about alleged attempts to potentially eliminate these programs. Michele understands the concerns of seniors who have been frightened into thinking that their Social Security could be taken away. As President, she will ensure that any reform to Social Security or Medicare will only affect those 55 and younger, and she will work to find a way to ease the next generation into a program that is solvent, fiscally responsible, and empowering to the individual. Michele has also pledged to protect Medicare by repealing Obamacare." Sep. 12, 2011 Michele Bachmann
Herman Cain, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and Chairman of Godfather's Pizza, stated the following during the CNN-Tea Party Republican presidential debate held in Tampa, FL on Sep. 12, 2011:
"I don't care what you call it [social security]. It's broken. And here's my solution...
Start with optional personal retirement accounts. In 1981 the Galveston County employees, they opted out. Because there was a very short window of opportunity, they took it. Today when people retire in Galveston County, Texas, they retire making at least 50 percent more than they would ever get out of Social Security...
Secondly, allow younger workers to have personal retirement accounts as an option. Now to answer this gentleman's question, current seniors will not be affected. It's to give the option to the younger workers. The Galveston County model worked, and it also worked in the small country of Chile. Instead of giving it to these states, let's give it back to the workers. That's personal retirement accounts would do." Sep. 12, 2011 Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-GA), stated the following during the CNN-Tea Party Republican presidential debate held in Tampa, FL on Sep. 12, 2011:
"[E]verybody who's older and wants to be totally protected, fine. No change. So don't let anybody lie to you, starting with the president. No change. But if you're younger and you'd like a personal account you would control instead of the politicians....and you know you'll have more money at the end of your lifetime if you control it than the politicians, why shouldn't you have the right to choose?" Sep. 12, 2011 Newt Gingrich
Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah, stated the following in an interview with C-SPAN on Aug. 25, 2011:
"Huntsman: In social security, we're going to have to take some bold measures as well. We're going to have to back out the retirement age. Why? Because we have no choice. We're going to have to move it something closer to the 85th percentile of the average length of life. We're living a whole lot longer than we were in 1935 when Social Security came about. So a combination of moving the retirement age and maybe indexing the underlying numbers to C.P.I. as opposed to the assumptions that today are being used. Those two things alone I think would make a significant impact on social security.
Interviewer: So should there be a means test in terms of your income and whether or not you should receive social security?
Huntsman: Absolutely. Absolutely there should be. We've got a lot of people in this country who don't need social security, who don't need Medicare and I think we need to look realistically at where we ought to be drawing those lines, means testing absolutely should be on the table." Aug. 25, 2011 Jon Huntsman
Ron Paul, US Representative (R-TX), stated the following during the CNN-Tea Party Republican presidential debate held in Tampa, FL on Sep. 12, 2011:
"Social Security is broke. We spent all the money and it's on its last legs unless we do something. One bill that I had in Congress - never got passed - was to prevent the Congress from spending any of that money on the wars and all the nonsense that we do around the world. Now the other thing that I would like to see done is a transition. I think it's terrible that the Social Security system has the problems it has, but if people wouldn't have spent the money we would be OK. Now, what I would like to do is to allow all the young people to get out of Social Security and go on their own. Now, the big question is, is how would the funding occur?" Sep. 12, 2011 Ron Paul
[Editors Note: One form of privatization of Social Security would allow workers to control their own retirement money through personal investment accounts either by opting out of the Social Security system or using the system to coordinate the private accounts. Ron Paul says that people should be allowed to have their own private investment accounts thus making him Pro to our question. However, Paul is strongly opposed to the alternate form of privatization where the government invests in private stocks on behalf of Americans as evidenced in part by this statement from Nov. 9, 2004, published at www.lewrockwell.com:
"We've all heard proposals for 'privatizing' the Social Security system. The best private solution, of course, is simply to allow the American people to keep more of their paychecks and invest for retirement as they see fit. But putting Social Security funds into government-approved investments could have dangerous consequences... The federal government has proven itself incapable of good money management, and permitting politicians and bureaucrats to make investment decisions would result in unscrupulous lobbying for venture capital."]
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, stated the following in his 2010 book Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington:
"For too long, politicians afraid to face hard facts have been patching Social Security together with Band-Aids...
Ponzi schemes -- like the one that sent Bernard Madoff to prison -- are illegal in this country for a reason... This unsustainable fiscal insanity is the true legacy of Social Security and the New Deal. Deceptive accounting has hoodwinked the American public into thinking that Social Security is a retirement system and financially sound, when clearly it is not.
If only the New Dealers had been kind enough to allow workers to make their own choice about whether to participate. As we know from experience, individuals would have done better on their own. Indeed many private pension plans return 8 percent per year, compared to Social Security's paltry 2 percent or less. Also, before the government padlocked the door in 1983, municipal governments were allowed to opt out of the system." 2010 Rick Perry
Buddy Roemer, former Governor of Louisiana, stated the following in a Mar. 16, 2011 video, "Looking Toward 2012," available at www.video.nytimes.com:
"There are some tremendous economists who've looked at social security and say, let's gradually raise the retirement age. We'll do it one month a year, for 12 years. That is a two-thirds of the way there. You don't cut any benefits and you don't raise any taxes. The second thing you might do, and there are three or four other things, would be to look at the indexing of the initial benefits, and rather than set them to wages, set them to prices… I would ask Americans one month a year, for 12 years, and we won't raise taxes, and we won't cut benefits, and it is secure for 75 years. It can be done." Mar. 16, 2011 Buddy Roemer
Rick Santorum, former US Senator (R-PA), stated the following in his 2005 book It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good:
"I have for a long time advocated reforming Social Security to keep the current system’s strong safety net protections in place while at the same time allowing workers to put some of their payroll taxes into real savings – into a personal retirement account (PRA)….So how do PRAs work?....Every worker currently pays a 12.4 percent payroll tax. About one third of that – four percentage points – would instead go into an account that is owned by the worker. (These accounts would be structured so that lower-income workers have a higher percentage of their Social Security taxes going to their PRAs than higher-income earners, but the average would be 4 percent.) The money would be invested in a way similar to the Federal Thrift Savings Plan. That plan includes five different mutual funds in which to invest one’s money – three stock funds, one corporate bond fund, and one government bond fund. There would be no investing outside of the system, no purchase of individual stocks or bonds, and no expensive fees. (The cost of managing the plan would be very low – only about $20 per $10,000 invested per year). Each worker participating in this plan, then, would have an investment that, based on the historic return on stocks, could deliver roughly 7 percent a year, compared to the measly 3 percent that Social Security returns." 2005 Rick Santorum