Perry on Social Security: They also said Reagan was too blunt
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has gotten all kinds of grief from the smartest guys in the room crowd in New York and Washington for calling Social Security “a Ponzi Scheme,” and “a monstrous lie to our kids.”
I can’t think of a more fitting place to demonstrate a Reaganesque honesty than the Reagan Library, with former First Lady Nancy Reagan looking on benignly as a couple of her crisply-coiffed Liberal Mainstream Media friends do their best to discredit the heirs to her husband’s political legacy.
Reagan himself often spoke just as bluntly about liberalism’s many sacred cows, and he invariably got the same sort of outraged responses from the smartest guys in the room crowd.
Like when he said “government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.” They were scandalized when he called the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” too. And who can forget “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Some of his own advisors were aghast that he was going to say that one.
Now Perry is getting the business from the same crowd. And it started with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – who knows a thing or two about appealing to the smartest guys.
“Our nominee has to be someone who isn’t committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving Social Security,” Romney chirped in response to Perry.
Of course Perry did NOT say he wanted to “abolish” Social Security, he simply called it what it is. It’s a classic Ponzi Scheme because money from the last investors must be used to pay the first investors. The fact Social Security is compulsory while a Ponzi Scheme is voluntary is beside the point.
And it’s a monstrous lie to tell anybody under age 50 because everybody knows and has known for decades that the Ponzi Scheme’s days are numbered by the reality that too few new workers are paying into the system to fund payments to current and projected beneficiaries.
You’ve heard of being “upside down” on a car loan? That’s when you keep trading in for a new model before paying off the old one. You transfer the outstanding balance on the old loan to the new loan. That’s just the way Social Security “works.”
Like Reagan said in 1964, the only thing that “saves” Social Security is that Washington can always raise taxes.
Except that it can’t. Only three workers pay in to Social Security now for every one beneficiary. The day is coming soon when it will only be two workers. Can you say “ruinous taxation?”
And that’s why Perry is way ahead of the smartest guys in the crowd on this issue.
Sure, the politically shrewd thing to say is to we have to “save” Social Security. It reassures the old folks without threatening the younger workers who must pay the taxes that fund the benefits.
What the smartest guys in the room crowd apparently missed is that Perry also said this:
“And people who are on Social Security today, men and women who are receiving those benefits today, are 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 …”
Perry appears to understand something Reagan knew very well: The smartest guys in the room crowd are slaves to conventional liberal wisdom and they are out-of-touch with the values and views of most Americans.
Our political elites in New York and Washington are far more attuned to that conventional wisdom than to everyday Americans. If you don’t grasp that fact, you will never understand why three-fourths of the voters trust the people more than professional politicians.
And that is why Perry’s candor may well prove to be his greatest asset in the months ahead.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner.