During last night’s GOP presidential primary debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry tried to walk a fine line between sticking to his characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” yet reassuring seniors that he doesn’t actually want to eliminate the program upon which so many of them depend. However, he ultimately fell back on the position espoused in his book, which is that Social Security was a unconstitutional overstep:
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 said, 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. [...]
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.
That program that Perry deems inappropriate for the federal government, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, kept nearly 14 million seniors out of poverty last year, as well as 1.1 million children:
The poverty data released today presented a sobering picture of the economic struggles Americans face. A record 46.2 million people were in poverty last year and median incomes are lower today than they were in 1997. But Perry, and many other Republicans who want to do everything from raise the retirement age to privatize Social Security, would take away yet one more piece of the social safety net that has helped millions of Americans stay economically afloat.