President Clinton's proposal for "Universal Savings Accounts" in his January
1999 State of the Union address marked a turning point in the debate over Social Security
reform: Besides endorsing the concept of mandatory individual accounts, he also earmarked
the federal budget "surplus" as the source for funding this expansion of Social
But whether individual accounts (IAs) would be funded by general revenues (an
"add-on") or by the current payroll tax (a "carve-out"), some basic
questions have not been fully considered in the debate over Social Security reform: How
would individual accounts actually work? As a purely logistical matter, how would the
existing Social Security system have to be changed in order to create and operate IAs?
What would these changes require of employers, the government, individuals, and financial
service providers? And how much would it all cost?
Nearly 300 leaders representing the private sector, the public sector, and the news
media explored those questions in detail at the Employee Benefit Research Institute's Dec.
2, 1998, policy forum, "Beyond Ideology: Are Individual Social Security Accounts
Feasible?" The papers contained in this book explore in detail the difficult
administrative issues raised by individual Social Security accounts. They reflect multiple
perspectives, and insights, from the Social Security Administration, employers, the mutual
fund and defined contribution industries, pension actuaries, payroll service bureaus,
academics, researchers, and tax and legal experts.
Beyond Ideology: Are Individual Social Security Accounts Feasible? explains why IAs may
be the biggest undertaking in the history of the U.S. financial market.