Third Bush-Kerry debate: on Social Security


George W. Bush: Let young people use personal retirement savings accounts

Q: Where do you get the $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits?

BUSH: There is a problem for our youngsters. We'll honor our commitment to our seniors. But for our children, we need to have a different strategy. I believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account, because I understand that they need to get better rates of return than the rates of return being given in the current Social Security trust.

KERRY: You just heard the president say that young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and put it in their own accounts. Now, my fellow Americans, that's an invitation to disaster. The CBO said very clearly that if you were to adopt the president's plan, there would be a $2 trillion hole in Social Security, because today's workers pay in to the system for today's retirees. We're going to protect Social Security. I will not privatize it. I will not cut the benefits.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona

George W. Bush: Social Security privatization will keep the system solvent

Q: Where do you get the money to continue paying Social Security benefits? Are you going to have to increase the deficit?

A: Every senior will still get their checks. There is a problem for our youngsters, a real problem. If we don't act today, the problem will be valued in the trillions. We need to think differently. We'll honor our commitment to our seniors. But for our children and our grandchildren, we need to have a different strategy. Recognizing that, I called together a group of our fellow citizens to study the issue. They came up with a variety of ideas for people to look at. Younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account, because I understand that they need to get better rates of return than the rates of return being given in the current Social Security trust. The compounding rate of interest effect will make it more likely that the Social Security system is solvent for our children and our grandchildren.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ

John Kerry: Personal retirement accounts are an invitation to disaster

Q: Where do you get the $1 trillion over the next 10 years to continue paying benefits?

BUSH: There is a problem for our youngsters. We'll honor our commitment to our seniors. But for our children, we need to have a different strategy. I believe that younger workers ought to be allowed to take some of their own money and put it in a personal savings account, because I understand that they need to get better rates of return than the rates of return being given in the current Social Security trust.

KERRY: You just heard the president say that young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and put it in their own accounts. Now, my fellow Americans, that's an invitation to disaster. The CBO said very clearly that if you were to adopt the president's plan, there would be a $2 trillion hole in Social Security, because today's workers pay in to the system for today's retirees. We're going to protect Social Security. I will not privatize it. I will not cut the benefits.

Source: [Xref Bush] Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona

John Kerry: Social Security privatization will cost $2 trillion more

Bush said young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and put it in their own accounts. The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office said very clearly if you were to adopt Bush's plan, there would be a $2 trillion hole in Social Security, because today's workers pay in to the system for today's retirees. They said that there would have to be a cut in benefits of 25% to 40%. Bush has never explained to America, ever, where does the transitional money, that $2 trillion, come from? He's already got $3 trillion, according to The Washington Post, of expenses that he's put on the line from his convention and the promises of this campaign, none of which are paid for. Not one of them is paid for. Bush is driving the largest deficits in American history. He's broken the pay-as-you-go rules. I have a record of fighting for fiscal responsibility. I will not privatize it. I will not cut the benefits. We're going to be fiscally responsible. We will take care of Social Security.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ

  • The above quotations are from Third Bush-Kerry debate, on domestic policy, Oct. 13, 2004, in Tempe Arizona.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Social Security.
  • Click here for more quotes by John Kerry on Social Security.
  • Click here for more quotes by George W. Bush on Social Security.
Other candidates on Social Security:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka


Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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