Commentary

Democrats Block Senate Vote on Personal Accounts

By Carrie Lips
This article appeared on Cato.org on November 21, 2005.

Sens. Rick Santorum and Jim DeMint were given floor time in the Senate on Tuesday night to discuss their proposals for Social Security reform. However, as expected, Democratic lawmakers prevented a vote on the matter, essentially ending the debate for the year. According to a report form the Associated Press, “Sen. Rick Santorum, (R-PA), said every attempt to reach across party lines on Social Security had ‘met with a partisan obstructionism that is as rock-solid as the marble before me on the rostrum’ in the Senate chamber.”

Senator DeMint added, “My Democratic colleagues oppose ownership. They want the government to continue to spend the money on other things. They say it’s going to increase the deficit. Again, not true. All this does is make us honest with our accounting.”

Minority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV), prevented votes on both measures — Santorum’s bill to guarantee benefits for those at or near retirement and DeMint’s “Stop the Raid” bill that would have created personal accounts from the annual Social Security surplus — by objecting to a motion by Santorum to schedule 10 hours of debate and floor votes for the bills early next year. According to CQ Today, rather than agreeing to debate the bills on their merits, Reid simply dismissed them as a “sham.”

A press release sent out by the Senate Republican Conference on Tuesday night quoted Sen. Santorum as saying, “Apparently, Democrats can’t stop using Social Security like a secret slush fund to pay for other programs. Republicans and the President believe it’s time to stop the raid and start saving Social Security funds for America’s workers. This plan would restore integrity to the program and restore trust with the American. Today is not the end, it is the beginning of a debate on the first step toward saving Social Security.”

Carrie Lips was Social Security Analyst for the Cato Project on Social Security Privatization.