It appears Gov. Rick Perry has decided to double down on his previous statements that Social Security was a "monstrous lie" and a "Ponzi scheme" for young people who are paying into the program now. Perry also went after Karl Rove who criticized Perry's remarks on Social Security as being "toxic."
When asked to respond to Perry's statements, Mitt Romney disagreed and although he said he agreed that the program had some funding problems, he felt the GOP should not be scaring seniors and that their nominee should be someone committed to saving the program rather than abolishing it.
I think Perry just did his best to make sure he's completely unelectable in the general election after his first debate. Even though Romney said he did not agree with Perry's statements on Social Security, he did not bother to remind him the program is projected to be fully solvent until 2037 and after that expected to pay out roughly seventy five percent of benefits, nor did he remind him of that the actual definition of a Ponzi scheme is.
HARRIS: Governor Perry, you said you wrote the book "Fed Up" to start a conversation. Congratulations. It's certainly done that in recent weeks.
In the book, you call Social Security the best example of a program that "violently tossed aside any respect for states' rights." We understand your position that it's got funding problems now. I'd like you to explain your view that Social Security was wrong right from the beginning.
PERRY: Well, I think any of us that want to go back and change 70 years of what's been going on in this country is probably going to have a difficult time. And rather than spending a lot of time talking about what those folks were doing back in the '30s and the '40s, it's a nice intellectual conversation, but the fact is we have got to be focussed on how we're going to change this program.
And people who are on Social Security today, men and women who are receiving those benefits today, are individuals at my age that are in line pretty quick to get them, they don't need to worry about anything. But I think the Republican candidates are talking about ways to transition this program, and it is a monstrous lie.
It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you're paying into a program that's going to be there. Anybody that's for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it's not right.
HARRIS: OK. Thank you, sir.
Let me follow on that. You mentioned the phrase "Ponzi scheme."
Just this morning, your former political adviser, Karl Rove, said that type of language could be "toxic," as he put it, in a general election. Vice President Cheney gave an interview today to ABC News, when he said it's not a Ponzi scheme, "It's a program that a great many people depend on."
My understanding is you're standing by every word you've written in that book. Is that right?
PERRY: Yes, sir. You know, Karl has been over the top for a long time in some of his remarks. So I'm not responsible for Karl anymore. But the fact is --
HARRIS: Vice President Cheney though said it's not a Ponzi scheme. You say it is.
PERRY: Absolutely. If Vice President Cheney or anyone else says that the program that we have in place today, and young people who are paying into that, expect that program to be sound, and for them to receive benefits when they research retirement age, that is just a lie. And I don't care what anyone says. We know that, the American people know that, but more importantly, those 25-and-30-year-olds know that.
HARRIS: Governor, time. Thank you. Governor, time.
HARRIS: Governor Romney, let's be blunt. Let's be blunt. Democrats are itching to use that kind of provocative language against Republicans, yet you acknowledge yourself that Social Security has funding problems.
How do you have a candid question about Social Security without scaring seniors?
ROMNEY: Well, the issue is not the funding of Social Security. We all agree and have for years that the funding program of Social Security is not working, and Congress has been raiding the dollars from Social Security to pay for annual government expenditures. That's wrong. The funding, however, is not the issue.
The issue in the book "Fed Up," Governor, is you say that by any measure, Social Security is a failure. You can't say that to tens of millions of Americans who live on Social Security and those who have lived on it.
The governor says look, states ought to be able to opt out of Social Security. Our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving Social Security.
We have always had, at the heart of our party, a recognition that we want to care for those in need, and our seniors have the need of Social Security. I will make sure that we keep the program and we make it financially secure. We save Social Security.
And under no circumstances would I ever say by any measure it's a failure. It is working for millions of Americans, and I'll keep it working for millions of Americans. And we've got to do that as a party.
HARRIS: Thank you, Governor.
Governor Perry, a 30-second rebuttal. Governor Romney said Vice President Cheney is right and you're wrong about Ponzi schemes.
PERRY: Well, here's -- again, we're not trying to pick fights here.
PERRY: We're about fixing things. You can either have reasons or you can have results. And the American people expect us to put results in place.
You cannot keep the status quo in place and not call it anything other than a Ponzi scheme. It is. That is what it is. Americans know that, and regardless of what anyone says, oh, it's not -- and that's provocative language -- maybe it's time to have some provocative language in this country and say things like, let's get America working again and do whatever it takes to make that happen.