House conservatives oppose add-ons

Two prominent House conservatives sent President Bush a letter Friday warning him against advocating “add on” personal retirement accounts as part of a Social Security overhaul after an administration official suggested Bush might be open to a compromise.

Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) sent the letter after National Economic Council Director Al Hubbard told USA Today in an article last Friday that the administration would be “willing to discuss” add-on accounts as a reform option.

Add-on accounts are retirement accounts created on top of the current Social Security system. Conservatives argue that these accounts do not solve the problem of Social Security’s looming insolvency and make the problem worse by increasing the federal government’s entitlement obligations.

“We strongly support your view that all reasonable proposals should be open for discussion,” the letter states. “However, add-on accounts do not solve the problem of solvency or generational fairness facing Social Security. We urge you to continue to pursue personal carve-out accounts as the long run solution for Social Security’s actuarial shortcomings.”

A number of other House conservatives were expected to send the White House their own letter shortly reiterating their objections to add-on accounts.

Shadegg said he sent the letter “to convey the commitment of many members to fundamental Social Security reform.”

Patrick O’Connor