Private accounts would pay workers based on the total amount they’ve paid into the system over their working lifetimes, not an average of what they paid in for part of their time in the work force. If private accounts had been around in 1989, I would have started growing mine with the first paycheck I earned pruning apple trees in the dead of winter in upstate New York. That account would have then been able to take advantage of what Albert Einstein called “the most powerful force in the universe,” compound interest. So instead of penalizing workers like me, who pay in early, private accounts will give workers the advantage of nearly two extra decades of accruing retirement assets.
Viewed from this perspective, it’s clear that by uniting against reform, Democrats are defending a system that is skewed against the workers they claim to represent–those who are handed little in life and must enter the work force early. Some of them work their way through college, but many stay in blue-collar and service-related jobs. They make less money each year, but make it up by working longer and harder. The Social Security debate is now about whether to allow these workers to capitalize on all of their hard work while saving for retirement. Isn’t that what the Democratic Party is supposed to be all about?