It is widely expected that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) will be announcing his candidacy for the Republican nomination to be president of the United States this weekend.
In the past, Perry has staked out extreme views on a number of economic issues. Last year, he called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” and claimed that Americans who are children today will never receive their benefits. He also used this same smear for the Medicaid and Medicare programs.
In an interview with Newsweek’s the Daily Beast last fall that was just published today, Perry expanded further on his belief that these programs are Ponzi schemes:
INTERVIEWER: In Fed Up!, you criticize the progressive era and the changes it produced: the 16th and 17th Amendments, Social Security, Medicare, and so on. I understand being against these things in principle — of longing for a world in which they never existed. But now that they’re part of the fabric of our society, do you think we should actually do away with them?
PERRY: I think every program needs to stand the sunshine of righteous scrutiny. Whether it’s Social Security, whether it’s Medicaid, whether it’s Medicare. You’ve got $115 trillion worth of unfunded liability in those three. They’re bankrupt. They’re a Ponzi scheme. I challenge anybody to stand up and defend the Social Security program that we have today — and particularly defend it to a 27-year-old young man who’s just gotten married and is trying to get his life headed in the right direction economically. I happen to think that the Progressive movement was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution from the standpoint of it being abused and misused to do things that Congress wanted to do, and/or the Supreme Court wanted to implement. The New Deal was the launching pad for the Washington largesse as we know it today. And I think we should have a legitimate, honest, national discussion about Washington’s continuing to spend money we don’t have on programs that we don’t need.
A Ponzi scheme is an economic arrangement where the money paid into the system by later entrants is paid right back out as benefits to earlier entrants. None of these social insurance programs that Perry mentioned fit this definition. They benefit those who pay into them with guaranteed benefits. One has to wonder if Perry will be able to get away with maligning these popular programs on the campaign trail.
Perry also seems to believe that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional.