Tuesday, August 23, 2011


It appears that Rick Perry is now backing away from what he wrote in his book. And his book was published just nine months ago!

In Fed Up: Our Fight to Save America from Washington, Texas governor argued that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme. What an idiot. It's an insurance program, not an entitlement program.

Like other clueless Republicans who either don't have an idea what Social Security is about - or who don't care about telling the truth - Perry is more showman than statesman. Franklin D. Roosevelt designed Social Security, as I explained in the Bakersfield Californian over six years ago (and elsewhere), so that it would be a self-funding insurance program that would pay for itself. And it does.

In fact, Social Security has taken in so much money (in part because President Reagan effectively doubled Social Security taxes, at the urging of Alan Greenspan) that the program has been lending money to the U.S. government for decades. The federal government now owes the program money (trillions).

What this means is that, unless you conveniently ignore how successive administrations have been drawing on the programs surpluses, Social Security has nothing to do with the budget deficit. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

In fact, the only reason Social Security is even mentioned as part of the budget is because President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to include it in the domestic budget. He did this only because he wanted to show his critics that we spent more on domestic programs than we did on our foreign engagements (i.e. the cold war and Vietnam) during the Vietnam War.

Yet, Perry (and his GOP presidential wannabes) like to suggest to Americans across our great nation that Social Security is in trouble. Incredibly, many Americans believe him. Why? I'm not sure, but one suspects that when it comes to Social Security Governor Perry is either Super Stupid, or that he believes that a majority of Americans are ...

Think about the following.

Today, if we did absolutely nothing with the Social Security program the interest earned by fund's bonds could pay out benefits until at least 2024. In fact, according to the Congressional Research Service, Social Security would have absolutely no problems paying out benefits for the next 75 years if all national income were subject to the payroll tax (currently about 15% of all national income is excluded from the Social Security tax).

Others Social Security facts that Governor Perry and his Clueless Wonders in the GOP don't seem to understand is that ...

* Before Social Security was enacted over 47% of America's elderly (but more elderly women) lived in poverty.

* Before Social Security was expanded in 1959 the poverty rate among America's elderly was still 35%.

* Today, only about 9% of America's elderly live in poverty (so, yes, more can be done).

But wait, there's more.

As I pointed out in my book, one of the greatest beneficiaries of programs like Social Security (and Medicare) has been America's bread winning middle class. Without Social Security as many as 44% of America's elderly would be living in poverty, and/or looking to their children and relatives for assistance. Anyone who has taken in a relative or friend during hard times knows exactly what this means for your bottom line (and your life of leisure).

Put another way, America's middle class has prospered in part because of insurance programs like Social Security.

Remind your friends of this the next time they try and tell you that Social Security is a problem.

- Mark 

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