Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) has been taking a lot of well-deserved flak for deriding Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme.” But during Monday night’s GOP presidential primary debate, Perry doubled down on his position, saying, “this is a broken system. It has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me.”
Even Perry’s supporters are clearly uncomfortable with this characterization. Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) endorsed Perry this week, but when asked repeatedly, refused to agree with Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. “It doesn’t matter what you call it, what’s most important is the substantive point he was making,” Jindal claimed.
Yesterday, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) — who succeeded Perry as head of the Republican Governors’ Association and has been floated as a potential Republican vice presidential candidate — told a local reporter that, when Perry says “Ponzi scheme,” what he is “actually trying to say” is that we should “preserve this valuable safety program for our senior citizens for our future generations”:
Q: What do you think about him calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme?
MCDONNELL: I think what he was trying to say and what all the Republicans were trying to say is to be honest with the people and say if you want to preserve this valuable safety program for our senior citizens for our future generations, we’ve go to reform it.
Social Security is indeed a valuable program. Last year alone, it kept 14 million seniors out of poverty.
Earlier this week, Perry wrote an op-ed on Social Security without using his favorite terms for the program: “Ponzi scheme” and “monstrous lie.” And evidently, he needs to start bringing McDonnell to his campaign events in order to translate his words into something that the American public doesn’t find terrifying.