Rick Perry: Consistently Wrong on Social Security

Republican presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry’s statements about Social Security have been consistently false or misleading, and completely out of touch with the American people. At best, they reveal a dangerous ignorance about Social Security, a program that has provided essential economic security to America’s working families for the past 76 years. At worst, they telegraph the candidate’s willingness to disregard and distort the facts, and his deep hostility to Social Security. Governor Perry has said:

Below is an analysis of Perry’s recent statements about Social Security. Click here for a pdf of the analysis.
The Truth: Social Security is the opposite of a Ponzi scheme, which is a fraud, a deceptive and totally unrealistic promise made by a swindler that your investments will reap huge returns. No one is cheated out of Social Security. Social Security is a promise made by all of us together, using the United States government to make that promise work. Just as adult children have always cared for aging parents, Social Security is a promise across generations. It is protection earned by working persons through their contributions, which insures against lost earnings resulting from severe disability, retirement or death. Social Security has delivered on that promise for 76 years. That’s why it is America’s most successful and popular federal program. Unlike a Ponzi scheme, it will always deliver on that promise, if the American people continue to elect politicians who support it.
The Truth: Social Security will be there for today’s young people—no matter what. It is there right now providing the only life insurance and disability insurance that most young workers and their families have. It will also be there if they are fortunate to reach old age. Like any program that projects its income and outgo three-quarters of a century into the future, Social Security can sometimes project distant shortfalls, but it can never go bankrupt. Its major source of income is from the contributions of workers and employers; as long as there are workers, Social Security will have income.The truth is that, even if Congress takes no action to close Social Security’s modest funding gap, the program will be able to pay all promised benefits through 2035 and more than three-quarters of promised benefits after that based on workers’ contributions. To guarantee full benefits after that we should require that people with wages of more than $106,800 a year pay Social Security taxes on all of their income—like the rest of us do who make less than that. Ensuring that the next generation will benefit from the promise of Social Security is all about choices. Which would you choose: tax cuts and tax loopholes for the wealthy, or financial security for everybody else?
We agree with Gov. Perry that the country would benefit from a “good, thoughtful conversation” about Social Security. Unfortunately, he either lacks the basic understanding of Social Security needed to have such a conversation. Or, in his dislike of nearly all things “federal,” he simply lacks interest in having an honest conversation, based on facts.
Either way, we hope he will change his approach to Social Security. Its future is too important to the well-being of new generations of workers to be shaped by false or misleading arguments.
Click here for a pdf of the analysis above.

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