ThinkProgress filed this report from the Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, California.
Though many have wondered if there was any policy position too extreme for the modern Republican Party, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has found one: abolishing Social Security.
During Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate in Simi Valley, California, Perry repeated his pronouncement that Social Security is both a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie.” This follows up on Perry’s own book, in which he says the popular retirement program is unconstitutional and “violently toss[es] aside any respect for our founding principles.”
After the debate, one of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) top advisers, Stuart Stevens, discussed the matter with ThinkProgress and others. Stevens minced no words, declaring that if the Texas governor were to win the nomination, Democrats would see major gains in Congress because every Republican candidate in the country “would have to run on the Perry plan to kill Social Security.” After noting that “the vast majority of Americans” did not want any major changes to Social Security — 64 percent according to a CNN poll, including 57 percent of Republicans — Stevens called the Perry platform of wanting to “abolish Social Security” a “disqualifying position.”
STEVENS: We’re talking about every House candidate that runs, every Senate candidate that runs, would have to run on the Perry plan to kill Social Security. We might as well just admit it now that Nancy Pelosi is going to become Speaker again and the Senate we’ll never get. It’s a position that, in his book he argues for and reasons out well, it’s just a position the vast majority of Americans don’t agree with. We’re talking about a president who will abolish Social Security. It’s not a question of how it’s funded, it’s a disqualifying position.
To be clear, Romney is no centrist. The former Massachusetts governor’s new economic plan includes $6.6 trillion in giveaways to corporations and the wealthy. He wants a federal “right to work” law. Romney even told Iowa fair-goers that he believes “corporations are people.”
Yet, Perry’s position on Social Security isn’t just a bit too conservative for Romney and the Republican Party. It’s so extreme, according to Stevens, that it would go against the wishes of the vast majority of Americans and lose GOPers both houses of Congress. With a strong majority of Republicans wanting to preserve Social Security in its current form, Stevens may indeed be correct that Perry’s bizarre belief that Social Security is unconstitutional is a “disqualifying position.”