Rick Perry on Social Security
Republican Governor (TX)
PERRY: Well, let me just say first, for those people that are on Social Security today, for those people that are approaching Social Security, they don't have anything in the world to worry about. We have made a solemn oath to the people of this country that that Social Security program in place today will be there for them. It's not the first time that Mitt has been wrong. We never said that we were going to move this back to the states. What we said was, we ought to have as one of the options that state employees and the state retirees, they being able to go off of the current system, on to one that the states would operate themselves.
PERRY: We never said that we were going to move this back to the states. What we said was, we ought to have as one of the options that state employees and the state retirees, they being able to go off of the current system, on to one that the states would operate themselves. As a matter of fact, in Massachusetts, Romney's home state, almost 96% of the people who are on that program, retirees and state people, are off of the Social Security program. So having that option out there to have the states--Louisiana does it, almost every state has their state employees and the retirees that are options to go off of Social Security. That makes sense. It's an option that we should have.
ROMNEY: Well, that's different than what the governor put in his book just six months ago, and what you said in your interviews following the book.
PERRY: First off, the people who are on Social Security today need to understand something. Slam-dunk guaranteed, that program is going to be there in place for those. Those individuals that are moving towards being on Social Security, that program's going to be there for them when they arrive there. But the idea that we have not had the courage to stand up and look Americans in the face, young mid-career professionals or kids that are my children's age and look them in the eye and say, listen, this is a broken system. It has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me. But no one's had the courage to stand up and say, here is how we're going to reform it.
PERRY: If what you're trying to say is that back in the '30s and the '40s that the federal government made all the right decision, I disagree with you. And it's time for us to get back to the constitution and a program that's been there 70 or 80 years, obviously we're not going to take that program away. But for people to stand up and support what they did in the '30s or what they're doing in the 2010s is not appropriate for America.
PERRY: I think we ought to have a conversation.
ROMNEY: We're having that right now, governor. We're running for president.
PERRY: The issue is, are there ways to move the states into Social Security for state employees or for retirees? We did in the state of Texas back in the 1980s. I think those types of thoughtful conversations with America, rather than trying to scare seniors like you're doing and other people, it's time to have a legitimate conversation in this country about how to fix that program where it's not bankrupt and our children actually know that there's going to be a retirement program there for them.
ROMNEY: Suggesting that Social Security should no longer be a federal program and returned to the states and unconstitutional is frightening to seniors.
PERRY: Well, rather than spending a lot of time talking about the '30s and the '40s, it's a nice intellectual conversation, but the fact is we have got to be focused on how we're going to change this program. People who are on Social Security today, men and women who are receiving those benefits today, and individuals at my age that are in line pretty quick to get them, they don't need to worry about anything. But I think the Republican candidates are talking about ways to transition this program, and it is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you're paying into a program that's going to be there. Anybody that's for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it's not right.
PERRY: We're about fixing things. You can either have reasons or you can have results. And the American people expect us to put results in place. You cannot keep the status quo in place and not call it anything other than a Ponzi scheme. It is. That is what it is. Americans know that, and regardless of what anyone says, oh, it's not--and that's provocative language--maybe it's time to have some provocative language in this country and say things like, let's get America working again and do whatever it takes to make that happen.
THE FACTS: Perry indeed roundly criticized Social Security in his book, but not quite to the point of calling it unconstitutional. Perry branded the program the "best example" of the "fraud" and "bad disease" spread by Washington in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.
Perry now has abandoned such rhetoric, adopting the conventional Republican view in a USA Today column Monday that its finances must be made whole to protect current and imminent retirees and make it viable for "generations to come."
We are fed up with a federal government that has the arrogance to preach to us about how to live our lives.
We are fed up with a federal government that pledged $200 billion to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
We are fed up with a self-interested Congress that spends its time earmarking over 9,000 pet projects in 2010 worth over $16 billion.
We are fed up that Social Security and Medicare teeter on the verge of bankruptcy, amassing unfathomable liabilities for future generations, that the federal government refuses to admit it, and that there is no leadership in Washington to do anything about it.
But perhaps most of all we are fed up because deep down we know how great America has always been, how many great things the people have done in spite of their government, and how great the nation can be in the future if government will just get out of the way.
By far the best example of this is Social Security. A New Deal invention, it was clearly intended to be a permanent fixture of the entitlement state FDR was constructing. Private pensions were largely solvent and performing, despite the Depression. Even though the Social Security Act was passed in 1935, the fact that no retirement benefits would be paid until 1942 contradicts any notion that it was directed at an emergency. Moreover, retirement benefits were not payable until age 62, when the life expectancy at the time was only 60. And FDR beat back a popular proposal for a private pension.
Aren't you wondering about the Social Security Trust Fund you've heard so much about? The term "trust fund" leads one to believe that there is a stockpile of assets that can be drawn on to pay benefits. Not so. This trust fund is an elaborate illusion cooked up by government magicians. While it is true that there is an accumulated ACCOUNTING surplus in this amount, the surplus exists only in a "bookkeeping sense."
Ponzi schemes are illegal in this country for a reason. They are fraudulent systems designed to take in a lot of money at the front and pay out none in the end. This unsustainable fiscal insanity is the true legacy of the New Deal. Deceptive accounting has hoodwinked the American public into thinking that Social Security is a retirement system and financially sound, when clearly it is not.