Herman Cain

Atlanta, GA, Mar. 15 (UPI) -- There are three dirty little secrets congressional Democrats don't want you to know about Social Security.

First, Democrats want President Bush's proposed personal retirement accounts off the negotiation table because Congress has already spent your money. That is because, in reality, there is no Social Security Trust Fund.

The Trust Fund is merely an accounting maneuver by which the government replaces your payroll taxes with IOUs to be redeemed at a later date.

The current system faces a fiscal crisis in the coming years because the government will not be able to redeem all the IOUs. There will be fewer younger workers paying into the system as the baby boomer generation begins to retire.

Congressional Democrats have long advocated placing Social Security payroll tax receipts in a lock box. Talk of trust funds and lock boxes is nothing more than the Left's usual deceptive and distorted rhetoric. What is ironic is that placing your payroll taxes in a lock box with your name on it -- where members of Congress cannot raid for pork barrel spending -- is in effect the backbone of Bush's plan. You get to keep and grow your own money, and it will be there when you retire.

The second dirty little secret is that personal retirement accounts do not really constitute privatization. Privatization means someone else owns your account. Bush's Social Security plan provides younger workers their own accounts that they control, not the government.

Members of Congress have their own personal retirement accounts, called the federal Thrift Savings Plan. The TSP has low administrative fees and members can choose from five different plans that vary in risk and rate of return. Contributions to the TSP are matched by taxpayers up to five percent, and are invested in mutual funds, not one particular stock. Bush's plan will not turn the public into a bunch of moonlighting day-traders, lining up to be fleeced by Wall Street insiders.

The third dirty little secret concerns the personal retirement add-on accounts some Democrats have hinted may bring them to the negotiation table. These add-on accounts would be available to workers on a voluntary basis, but do nothing to solve the solvency crisis or put workers in charge of their own money.

Unlike Bush's proposed investment accounts, add-on accounts would not help the lowest-income workers save for retirement and build wealth for their families. Low-income workers living paycheck-to-paycheck by definition do not have money left over to put into an extra account.

Herman Cain

Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.

Be the first to read Herman Cain's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.