Photo: Gage Skidmore
Presidential candidate Rick Perry elaborated on Monday on his oft-stated claim that Social Security is financially broken, though he did so without repeating his belief that the program is a “Ponzi scheme.”In an op-ed in USA Today, Perry wrote that the popular entitlement program faces a huge funding shortfall, and that it must be reformed to make it financially viable for the long term. The timing of that op-ed is strategic for Perry, as it comes on the morning of the next Republican presidential debate.
Last week, Perry’s chief rival for the GOP nod, Mitt Romney, attacked him for labelling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme, so the op-ed is aimed in part at heading off further criticism on that front.
“By 2037, retirees will only get roughly 76 cents back for every dollar that is put into Social Security unless reforms are implemented,” Perry wrote. “Imagine how long a traditional retirement or investment plan could survive if it projected investors would lose 24% of their money?”
Perry asserted several weeks that Social Security was bilking future retirees and, when he came under fire for that remark, doubled-down on his claim. In last week’s GOP primary debate, Perry again refused to back down from his Ponzi scheme remarks when directly asked about it.
With his op-ed, Perry is now trying to soften his position without going back on his central point that the program is financially unstable. In re-framing his argument, Perry is also aiming to set himself up as the brave candidate who isn’t afraid of talking about tough issues.
“For too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security,” Perry wrote. “We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come.”
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