Just over a week into his 2012 presidential campaign, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is already doing political backflips over some of the more extreme conservative ideas espoused in his fiery 2010 book, Fed Up!Perry’s problems largely stem from the book’s position on Social Security, which he suggests violates the Constitution. In Fed Up!, he calls the program a “bad disease” that is set up “like an illegal Ponzi scheme.”
From Fed Up!
This unsustainable fiscal insanity is the true legacy of Social Security and the New Deal. Deceptive accounting has hoodwinked the American public into thinking that Social Security is a retirement system and financially sound, when clearly it is not….Now if you say Social Security is a failure, as I have just done, you will inherit the wind of political scorn. Seniors will think you want to cut the benefits they have paid for…We are told that no politician has the courage to raise these issues, even if avoiding them puts us on the fast track to financial ruin. But by remaining quiet, politicians are really saying they think the American people won’t understand it if we share the grim details of our financial future…Is that how we should respect our fellow citizens? By underestimating their intelligence, their desire to retire with greater stability or their commitment to the next generation?
But Perry himself has tempered this anti-Social Security vitriol since entering the 2012 presidential race.
His communications director, Ray Sullivan, told the WSJ last week that he had “never heard” the governor suggest the program was unconstitutional. He added that Fed Up! does not reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix the program.
As the WSJ notes, Perry’s repudiation of the book he released just nine months ago is relatively new. At a campaign event last weekend, an Iowan asked Perry how he would go about entitlement reform. Perry’s response?
“Have you read my book, ‘Fed Up!’ Get a copy and read it.”