Quayle aligns with Republican mainstream on privatizing Social Security

Republican congressional candidate Ben Quayle (Ariz.) on Friday said he favors increasing the retirement age and shifting Social Security payments into private accounts to keep the fund from bankrupting the government.

“We would protect those who are in or near retirement today, but for people of my generation and younger, we would actually have to reform it which would be to start to gradually increase the retirement age up to 70 and allow a portion of the people to take … their Social Security and actually invest into private accounts,” the 33-year-old told CNN's John King.

Quayle’s take on the entitlement program dovetails with congressional Republican leaders who have recently reiterated calls that hearken back to 2005 to privatize Social Security before it absorbs nearly all of the revenue collected by the government.

Republicans in June of 2005 controlled both chambers of Congress and announced a plan to create individual accounts from the Social Security’s surplus. Privatizing the fund was a campaign pledge of President Bush’s first term that never materialized.

However, shortly after the plan was announced Hurricane Katrina hit and swept privatization off Republicans’ priority list.

If conservative leaders had been successful back in 2005 in privatizing the program it is unclear if retirement accounts would be in better shape today.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 10,717 on Dec. 30, 2005. The index on Friday closed at 10,303, meaning retirement accounts performing on par with the Dow would have a negative return.

Still, a recent report from the trustee of Social Security states the program will pay full benefits through 2037, at which point recipients will only receive 75 percent of full assistance.

President Obama on Saturday noted the 75th anniversary of Social Security by vowing to protect the program from Republican attempts to privatize it.

“I’ll fight with everything I’ve got to stop those who would gamble your Social Security on Wall Street,” he said. “Because you shouldn’t be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will pull all you’ve worked do hard for, all you’ve earned, at risk.”