At last night's Republican debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry was asked to explain his view that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Wind it up:
[T]he fact is, we've got to be focused 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 or individuals of my age that are on -- in line pretty quick to get them, they don't need to worry about anything. 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 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.
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 reach retirement age, that is just a lie. And I don't care what anyone says. We know that, the American people know that, and more importantly, those 25- and 30- year-olds know that.
And continuing some more:
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 -- 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.
Governor Perry splits the Republican process with this one -- it's tough talk for a base that likes that kind of thing (though they also like entitlements) and poison for the general electorate. It's also fodder for Mitt Romney, at least until the former frontrunner's own changing views on privatizing Social Security swim to the surface again.