Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s (R) views on Social Security have been well-chronicled since he jumped into the Republican presidential primary in July. In the past, Perry has called Social Security unconstitutional and a Ponzi scheme, and in his first debate appearance, he called it a “monstrous lie.” Perry’s assertions were obviously incorrect, and he drew the ire of fellow candidates like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and GOP strategists like Karl Rove, who called Perry’s extreme views “toxic” for the Republican Party.
At other points, Perry mentioned that Social Security should be returned to the states, a “solution” that is economically impossible. Today, however, Perry walked all of that back, choosing instead to join his GOP colleagues in their support of privatizing Social Security. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed outlining his new economic plan, Perry touted the benefits of “personal” accounts, the GOP’s buzzword for privatization:
Cut, Balance and Grow also gives younger workers the option to own their Social Security contributions through personal retirement accounts that Washington politicians can never raid. Because young workers will own their contributions, they will be free to seek a market rate of return if they choose, and to leave their retirement savings to their dependents when they die.
Unfortunately for Perry, this move amounts to dropping support for a plan so toxic it couldn’t even garner consideration in favor of a plan that, while slightly less toxic, has already been rejected by the American people. Republican attempts to privatize Social Security went down in flames in 2005, and even now, with the GOP telling Americans the system is broken and ignoring the easiest way to shore up its long-term solvency, voters continue to reject the idea of privatizing one of the government’s most popular programs.
Perhaps that’s because the American people know just how dangerous private Social Security accounts could be. According to a Center for American Progress study, an October 2008 retiree would have lost $26,000 in a private Social Security account due to the financial crisis, and that analysis was done before the market hit its floor in the spring of 2009. When millions of senior citizens lost nearly all of their retirement savings in their own private investment accounts, Social Security was the only income they had left. As a result, the program kept 14 million seniors out of poverty in 2010.
While Perry has apparently ditched his Ponzi scheme talk, the idea that his plan for Social Security is as safe as the current program is its own monstrous lie. If that wasn’t bad enough, Perry also supports raising the age at which retirees would become eligible for Social Security, another incredibly regressive idea.