This past weekend, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) addressed the right-wing Constitutional Coalition’s annual conference in St. Louis. She had dropped out of the Tea Party Convention occurring on the same day in Nashville to make the appearance.
Speaking to a small group of conference attendees and ThinkProgress during lunch on Saturday, Bachmann outlined how the Republican Party and its 2012 nominee must address the national debt. Bachmann referenced Glenn Beck, who falsely warned about a $107 trillion in supposed “unfunded liabilities” from Social Security and Medicare. She then called for a “reorganization” of entitlements where people “already in the system” would continue to receive benefits, but “everybody else” would be weaned off:
BACHMANN: Is the country too big to fail? No, the country can fail. We can, we’re not invincible. And we’re so close now to being at that point because the thing is, as Glenn Beck said last night, it is true. The $107 trillion that he put on the board. We’re $14 trillion in debt, but that doesn’t include the unfunded massive liabilities. That’s $107 trillion, and that’s for Social Security and Medicare and all the rest. You add up all those unfunded net liabilities, and all the traps that could go wrong we’re on the hook for, and what it means is what we have to do is a reorganization of all of that, Social Security and all. We have to do it simply because we can’t let the contract remain as they are because the older people are going to lose. So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don’t have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off. And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can’t do it. So we just have to be straight with people. So basically, whoever our nominee is, is going to have to have a Glenn Beck chalkboard and explain to everybody this is the way it is.
Bachmann is echoing a growing chorus in the GOP caucus. Recently, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced an alternative budget plan which would privatize both Medicare and Social Security. As the Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo has noted, the type of private Social Security accounts Ryan proposes would have cost seniors tens of thousands of dollars in the 2008-2009 market plunge. But Bachmann takes Ryan’s effort a step farther and seems to be suggesting a full repeal of the retirement safety net.
Bachmann, who has gained influence within Republican leadership circles, was a star at the event. At his speech on Friday, Glenn Beck proclaimed that Bachmann was the only person he trusted in Congress. Other accolades for Bachmann were heard throughout the conference. At one point, Heritage Foundation scholar Matt Spalding, who had been whispering in Bachmann’s ear while other panelists spoke, exclaimed, “if there’s one person who everyone at Heritage has a crush on, it’s Michele Bachmann.”