Dean Baker, December 24, 2022
Since coming to Washington more than three decades ago, I have spent much of my time working on retirement income. The biggest part of that story was defending Social Security, which leaders in both parties were anxious to cut. This defense was largely successful, as the efforts to privatize it in the 1990s and under President Bush were beaten back, and the efforts at cuts often focused on the annual cost of living adjustment, were similarly derailed.
Defending Social Security was crucial, both because tens of millions of people depend on it for most or all of their income, but also because it was a model social program. The administrative costs are minimal, with the total program’s costs coming to less than 0.6 percent of annual benefits, with the costs of the retirement program alone coming to less than 0.4 percent of benefits. By comparison, the fees from private 401(k)s run in the neighborhood of 15 to 20 percent of annual retirement benefits.