Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) have sparred recently over their slightly differing views regarding the future of Social Security, with Perry denouncing the program as an unconstitutional “Ponzi scheme” and Romney hitting back from Perry’s left, ignoring not just his own support for privatizing the program but also his refusal to consider the easiest way to make it viable for the next three-quarters of a century.
This weekend, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), once considered a potential front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, weighed in on the growing controversy that has engulfed the race. After urging the party’s candidates to be more honest with voters about the country’s future, however, Daniels said the only problem with Perry’s position on Social Security was that it was “too frank,” and his failure to explain it was unnecessarily scary, the New York Times reports:
“I don’t think any of this is very helpful,” Mr. Daniels said. “If there’s a problem with ‘Ponzi scheme,’ it is that it’s too frank, not that it’s wrong. But by stopping there, he might be unnecessarily scaring people.”
Republicans have had a hard time with Perry’s characterization of Social Security, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) refused to say whether he agreed when he endorsed Perry and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) saying that Perry really meant he wanted to “preserve this valuable safety net program.” But as Matt Yglesias notes, the answer is simple: Social Security is simply not a Ponzi scheme.
Daniels is right on one count: the Republican presidential candidates aren’t being honest with the American people about the future of Social Security. Unfortunately, neither is he. Social Security can pay out full benefits until 2037, and raising the payroll tax cap and allowing income over $106,800 to be taxed for Social Security purposes would make it solvent for the next 75 years.