I agree with the notion that every American should "own" their social security account. Though conservatives have promoted the idea, it is really a liberal idea. Sort of like the health care "individual mandate" that once was offered as a conservative option, but now derided as a liberal expansion of government.
As long as participation into SS remained mandatory and there are rules that protect the individual and society, then the main insurance function of the program is maintained while modernizing it. Why conservatives would want to make a mandatory government program more effective and permanent is the vexing question. Are they being cynical? Or just playing politics offering something that might excite some voters while never having to deliver?
Either way, taking Gingrich at his word that Americans can have a personal account with a guarantee that they will receive the current benefit as a minimum if their investments don't work out is not a legitimate plan. He likes to state that Galvanston Texas and the country of Chile offer a similar guarantee in their pension plans without ever having to expend public funds. So the government can cut benefits, and individuals can get higher SS payments because of the power of investment, with very little chance of a public bailout being needed.
Assuming he's truthful about the past quarter century or so with these pension plans you have to think, Gingrich wants this new SS plan to last at least 50 years right?
Just because something has worked for 10 years, 20, 30, and 49, doesn't mean it will in 50 years. And then what? What if we have to bailout people every year for 20 years? Is this capitalism during good times (personal benefit), socialism during bad times (government bailouts)? But you say it hasn't happened in the 2 above instances?
Let's look at a few things unthinkable 50 years ago:
In 1962 who would have believed:
1. everyone in our country would have cheap access to a personal wireless telephone that they could bring wherever they go?
2. the US would have a black President, and at one particular time in his re-election campaign, the leading candidate of the conservative party running against him was also black.
3. the us economy could lost over 750,000 per month for a period, and experience the worst time since the Great Depression without any major disruption in the daily life of average American.
The point is you can't accept a plan that is based on something that is possible never happening.
If the former Speaker wants to say its ok if the government has to bailout investors, or that the Seniors would just have to take less money if their investments dipped, fine; but to sell the idea that that can't happen is just a scheme.