MANCHESTER, N.H. — Americans should be allowed to select a private retirement account, in which all the money deposited belongs to them, rather than a government-controlled program like Social Security, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said today.
Speaking at Saint Anselm College’s Institute of Politics, Gingrich pointed to Chile and Gavelston, Texas, as having models for personal savings accounts for retirement he would use to overhaul Social Security.
Gingrich said the return on these accounts is twice the amount per dollar compared to a standard Social Security plan. In the Chile model Gingrich referred to, he said each citizen is guaranteed the minimum social security, but in 31 years of the program, no one has needed to access government money.
To push his plan, he said he planned to use a YouTube video of President Obama saying he wasn’t sure if he could guarantee checks for the next generation.
“Why would you want to have an account where in the next 50 to 60 years, some politician tells you whether or not you’ll get your own money back?” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said he hopes his Social Security overhaul will become a student movement.
“I’m not going to go around the country trying to sell it,” Gingrich said. “I’m going to try to get hundreds of thousands of young people through social media and make it their program.”
Gingrich said he bets Democrats will vote for reform with a student-led movement. He hopes to bring the debate over the future of Social Security to hundreds of campuses.
After the speech, the media questioned Gingrich on the how the gap would work with switching over to a new model. Gingrich said it would be a choice to change and it would have ample financing from ending 185 federal welfare programs and sending grants to states.
Gingrich said contributions from employers would go into sustaining the current system and would help pay off the current generation on Social Security.
Gingrich’s other measures would be to block-grant all welfare programs to the states, allowing individual states to set up programs. By making it a block-grant, the states would be in almost complete control of those programs.
He would allow seniors to stay in the current Medicare system, but would also allow private options to increase competition, he said.
Gingrich said he believes his program reforms would have a better chance at crossing the aisle than that of former President Bush.
“You can’t come out of an election that’s bitterly divided, put your name on a program and expect any Democrat’s going to vote for it,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich did not mince words criticizing the supercommittee, Obama and the Congressional Budget Office, which he called a “reactionary socialist institution” for not allowing reform.
On the supercommittee, Gingrich said it “was a fiasco from the beginning.”
“I haven’t paid any attention. I just assumed it reached its natural conclusion, which is failure,” Gingrich said.
Having sub-committees hold open hearings to find the best ideas would have been the path to budget cuts he would have suggested, he said.
Obama was “on a ‘fantasy track,” and compared him to a “16 year-old with your first credit card, giving away things you don’t have,” he said.
Gingrich also said the Congressional Budget Office should be shut down. He compared the office to a score keeper of a football game, saying they don’t “believe in counting touchdowns or field goals, but they do believe in counting the number of beers drunk.”
Asked about when he would begin TV advertisements in early voting states like New Hampshire and Iowa, Gingrich said the media is already giving him free advertising.
“I’m actually quite excited by how much information we get out every day. When we get to a point where we think we have to do radio and TV advertising, we’ll do radio and TV advertising,” he said.