How 6th District candidates Ives, Kinzler would change Social Security

The nation's method of providing for retired people through Social Security needs improvement, say both candidates running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Congress in the 6th District.

Jeanne Ives said Social Security needs to provide better returns for the high rates employees and employers are required to contribute.

And Gordon "Jay" Kinzler said Congress needs to protect Social Security funding, allowing it to stay set aside only for its true purpose.

But Ives goes further than Kinzler in suggesting the nation should switch to 401(k)-style savings plans for workers, in which employees, and potentially employers, make pretax contributions to an investment account to build savings over time.

The candidates in the March 17 primary both hope to become the GOP nominee to face off in November against first-term Democrat Sean Casten.

Ives called Social Security a "failed" system and said plenty of financial leaders are coming up with proposals to make it work better. The problem, she said, is the high cost employees and employers pay into the system - each must contribute 6.2% of the employee's salary - does not keep pace with the return value participants receive.

"This is something that we can solve; I know that we can solve it," she said. "We have really smart people in the financial world, and we don't have to saddle people with this enormous Social Security requirement that takes 12.4% of their pay."

Ives said she would like to see a system closer to a 401(k) retirement savings plan, but with more restrictions so employees cannot access the funds for other purposes, transfer them or borrow against their value.

"I think we need to modernize this system and we need to be very careful about where the Democrats want to take it. They want to make it worse for people to have to put in more," Ives said. "That's exactly why I'm running - because we can't make things worse for people, we have to make them better."

Kinzler said he would consider a "hybrid system" between Social Security as it is now and a 401(k)-style plan.

"It sounds all good to have everyone in 401(k)s, but the problem is there's a lot of people that wouldn't use their investment strategies wisely and you'd basically have a lot of people who, at 65, would have nothing," Kinzler said. "So we have to also look out for (people) across the entire population."

Another problem with Social Security funding, Kinzler said, is politicians seem to view it as a pot of money to help out in a bind.

"There should be a 'Social Security lock box,'" Kinzler said, "which isn't happening anymore."

Ives, 55, and Kinzler, 61, both hail from the core of the 6th District in DuPage County - Ives from Wheaton and Kinzler from Glen Ellyn.

Ives is a three-term former state representative, a West Point graduate and an Army veteran. She ran unsuccessfully in the 2018 Republican primary against then-Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Kinzler is a former Glen Ellyn park board president and a colonel in the Army Reserve. He works as a transplant surgeon at Elmhurst Hospital and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

The 6th District makes an arc in the shape of a C from Hinsdale and Naperville through Elgin to just beyond Long Grove and the Barrington area. It includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties.

Casten is the first Democrat to represent the 6th District since 1972. Casten is unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face the Republican nominee in the Nov. 3 general election.

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