McCotter hopeful ‘palatable’ Social Security proposal will gain bipartisan traction

Steven Nelson Associate Editor
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Michigan Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter predicts that his proposal to reform Social Security will gain traction after the current congressional recess.

McCotter told The Daily Caller Thursday that a detailed proposal he introduced earlier this month hasn’t yet attracted significant outright support, but that he believes it will, after other alternatives are considered.

The congressman, who until last week was seeking the Republican nomination for president, said, “My approach is the best approach, and that’s the position I’m going to try to continue to convey to my colleagues, and see who else can pick up on it.”

His proposal would allow beneficiaries to transfer up to fifty percent of their Social Security funds to private investment accounts. The funds for these accounts would come directly from the government, not Social Security payroll taxes. The funds would be offset with deep spending cuts.

The individual accounts would likely cause beneficiaries to receive more money than they would under the current Social Security model, McCotter said. If the amount in an account dropped below what the beneficiary would receive under the traditional model, the government would make up the difference.

“When you’re talking about something serious and as important to the American people as entitlement reform it’s not as easy as adopting a resolution that everyone can just jump behind,” he said, anticipating that “it’s going to be a long haul.”

“I don’t think it will happen overnight,” McCotter continued, adding that he thinks his proposal “will start to get traction” after the current continuing resolution impasse is resolved.

When fellow lawmakers have the opportunity to review the proposal, he believes they will realize that “some of the other alternatives out there that are far less palatable.” The plan may be worth consideration by the debt reduction super committee, McCotter suggested.

Last week McCotter dropped out of the Republican presidential race and endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He hasn’t spoken with Romney about the particulars of his plan. “You know, he’s running a presidential campaign,” McCotter said, “and I think that my focus is to try to convince the House GOP and Democrats that it’s the best way to go.”

“It’s starting to percolate up,” he said, citing Republican presidential contender Herman Cain’s repeated calls for a Chilean-style Social Security system. “The key thing is, and I think the public now understands, is that it’s worse for a politician to avoid entitlement reform than it is to try to solve the problem.”

Several prominent Republican congressmen contacted by TheDC indicated that they have not officially decided whether or not to support McCotter’s proposal. But McCotter remains hopeful, saying that he’ll “have to go back to see if we’ve picked up any co-sponsors” on Monday.

Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, told TheDC that he likes McCotter’s proposal, calling it “a reform that makes Social Security fully funded and sustainable without tax hikes” and “a wonderful contribution to the debate on how to reform Social Security.”

The plan “makes his presidential campaign worth the effort,” Norquist said. (RELATED: Perry-Romney tension heats up as they accuse each other of flip-flopping)

CATO tax reform expert Daniel Mitchell said in an email to TheDC that “compared to doing nothing about overall spending burden or [Social Security] reform, McCotter’s proposal would be a move in the right direction.”

Mitchell expressed skepticism, however, over the individual accounts being financed directly by the government. “Yes, I realize there would be $1 of spending cuts for every 50 cents put into the accounts (plus long-term savings from reduced benefits), but I’d still rather fund the accounts with payroll taxes,” he said.

The Social Security chief actuary issued a positive evaluation of the proposal’s effect on the program’s solvency.

McCotter’s endorsement of Romney came about due to the frontrunner’s Michigan ties — Romney’s father was once Michigan’s governor — and his business experience, McCotter said.

“Coming from Michigan, there are a lot of common ties,” McCotter said. “But most importantly, it’s his business background, and as I’ve always said, the key is to beat President Obama so we can get the country moving forward again. I think Governor Romney’s extensive business background is a great juxtaposition to an incumbent Democratic president that doesn’t have any at all. With the economy being the number one issue, I think that’s what citizens are going to focus on like a laser.”

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