Even while maintaining his position as The Washington Times' chief political correspondent and covering the issue of Social Security, Donald Lambro has written nine opinion columns for the Times since the presidential election in which he has advocated passage of President Bush's plan for partially privatizing the program. Most recently, in a January 24 commentary, Lambro misleadingly criticized Democrats for opposing President Bush's Social Security "reform" agenda: "They [Democrats] oppose doing anything about Social Security's coming insolvency, let alone helping younger workers build a comfortable retirement nest egg they can own and that will pay them handsome dividends."
In fact, a number of prominent Democrats have advocated Social Security reforms, including adopting personal retirement accounts, provided they are not funded by diverting payroll taxes from Social Security benefits. And while Lambro suggested that President Bush's Social Security proposal would help "younger workers build a comfortable retirement nest egg," many economists believe that President Bush's proposed private investment accounts will vastly increase retirees' exposure to risk without producing a higher rate of return than the current system.
As Media Matters for America noted, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) advocated rolling back a portion of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to keep Social Security solvent, and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) encouraged raising the Social Security payroll tax to make up for projected shortcomings. A January 20 Washington Post article reported that Representative Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) endorsed a plan to introduce personal retirement accounts that do not draw funding from guaranteed Social Security benefits, and that Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) backed a system of "universal 401(k) accounts."
Contrary to Lambro's suggestion that President Bush's Social Security proposal would help "younger workers build a comfortable retirement nest egg," as Media Matters has noted, many economists estimate that private accounts will typically provide a rate of return similar to that provided under the current system. Vincenzo Galasso, a researcher at the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, has even argued that the rate of return would be higher in the current system than for private accounts.
Lambro is a syndicated columnist for United Feature Syndicate.