bankruptSocial Security is a financial black hole that even Bill Clinton wanted to pull the U.S. out of. Will the next President save us?

How great of a threat to America is the impending bankruptcy of Social Security?

It’s so great that Bill Clinton himself nearly privatized the system in 1996.

Cato Institute’s Jose Pinera revealed the White House proposal in the January/February 2016 Cato Policy Report.

The Investor’s Business Daily editorial board writes:

Pinera says that Clinton began thinking in earnest about privatizing part of Social Security back in 1995, after a discussion with former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, an ardent advocate for Social Security reform and, like Clinton, a moderate Democrat.

According to Pinera, Clinton saw private accounts as a way to cement his presidential record as a reformer. And the model for doing so that he had in mind was from Chile, where Pinera and a group of reformers created private retirement accounts that helped fuel that nation’s decade-long growth boom. It was a rousing success.

Clinton even sent his former chief of staff, Mack McLarty, to Chile in 1996 to see how private personal accounts worked. In a letter to Pinera, he talked about how impressive Chile’s program was, calling it “the mother of all reforms,” adding: “We can learn a great deal from your country’s bold initiative, which is widely envied throughout the hemisphere.”

Three years later, in December 1998, Pinera attended a White House conference on Social Security reform. There, he outlined the simple elements of the Chilean Model: “Every Chilean worker has a pension passbook — I always carry one of them. The worker has his money put here in the passbook, and they know every month how much money they have.” And he noted, “in this way we have allowed the working poor to benefit from that extraordinary force of compound interest.”

It must have struck a chord with Clinton. Just one month later, in his 1999 State of the Union address, he proposed what he called “USA accounts,” universal savings accounts funded by about 11% of the then-Social Security surplus as a means of taking pressure off the Social Security program, which was even then approaching insolvency. Every American would have had a private savings account, funded by a portion of his or her payroll taxes.

“USA accounts will help all Americans to share in our nation’s wealth and to enjoy a more secure retirement,” Clinton said. And he was right.

Unfortunately Clinton’s sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and his illegal effort to cover it up, came out just days later and derailed the endeavor.

Social Security is rapidly plunging toward bankruptcy. “In 2014, it spent $63 billion more than it took in, and its future liabilities today exceed $26 trillion,” IBD reports.

$26 trillion is more than enough to wipe out the entire U.S. economy, and it’s a threat the next president needs to tackle head-on.

If even Bill Clinton had the backbone to do it, why shouldn’t our next president, too?