Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in 1995 called Social Security “the most widely accepted government contract in America” and said it should be “off the table” when working toward a balanced federal budget.
He now favors reforming the program to save it by creating a second, optional program with private retirement accounts.
“It is also the single most popular government program,” he wrote in his 1995 book “To Renew America” of the current Social Security model. “Furthermore, the current generation of politicians has not earned the necessary trust to talk about retirement programs. There is plenty of government left to remake even if we protect Social Security.”
Gingrich, the Speaker of the House at the time, was also scared of the liberal backlash he thought would happen if his Congress were to tamper with the entitlement program in order to balance the federal budget.
“Can you imagine the scare campaign that liberals would launch if anyone tried to balance the budget using Social Security funds?” Gingrich wrote.
He believed that by balancing the budget by cutting other government programs, which he does not specify in the book, Congress would have earned the trust of baby boomers and their children to begin to dialogue about reforming Social Security.
Gingrich stumbled onto the presidential scene by criticizing Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan to create a “premium support” system for Social Security enrollees under the age of 55.
In late November, the former speaker laid out a plan to reform Social Security by creating a new, optional entitlement model where individuals could choose a private retirement account. Money deposited into the new model would be owned by the individual.
If the individual needs more than the money in the retirement account, the old version of Social Security would provide backup. The model, he says, is based on programs used in Chile and Galveston, Texas, and would help financially save the old Social Security.