How to Win the Social Security Debate

Rick Perry has come under a considerable amount of scrutiny after the debate last Wednesday night for stating that in his view, Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme.” Social Security is most certainly broken but veteran politicos, Mitt Romney’s campaign, the left, and the media all took Perry to task for his remarks.

As the site GOP12 noted yesterday, Governor Palin ‘clarified’ Perry’s Social Security comments during her Friday interview with Megyn Kelly. They wrote:

On Fox News today, Sarah Palin offered Rick Perry a more gentle way of talking about Social Security.

“What Rick Perry was trying to say, I believe, is that there needs to be reform. Status quo is not acceptable, because these programs are insolvent.

…. So he’s saying reform is necessary.”

Perry has written that Social Security is a “failure” and “Ponzi Scheme”, and returned to those themes in Wednesday night’s debate.

If Perry were really just saying “reform is necessary”, then pretty much everyone, including Romney, would agree. Palin’s suggested rhetoric is much less controversial than Perry’s.

Governor Palin has consistently addressed the Social Security debate responsibly by highlighting the fact that the program has to be reformed, while also insisting that we must not hurt those who have paid into the system throughout their adult lives.

Back in December of 2010, Governor Palin addressed the Social Security issue while endorsing the Paul Ryan roadmap. She wrote (emphasis):

On Social Security, as with Medicare, the Roadmap honors our commitments to those who are already receiving benefits by guaranteeing all existing rights to people over the age of 55. Those below that age are offered a choice: They can remain in the traditional government-run system or direct a portion of their payroll taxes to personal accounts, owned by them, managed by the Social Security Administration and guaranteed by the federal government. Under the Roadmap’s proposals, they can pass these savings onto their heirs.

And as recently as last Saturday, during her speech at the tea party rally in Indianola, Iowa she said:

The status quo is no longer an option. Entitlement reform is our duty now, and it must be done in a way that honors our commitment to our esteemed elders today, while keeping faith with future generations.

Michele Bachmann also weighed in on the issue yesterday during an interview with Radio Iowa. Katrina Trinko reported:

Without naming competitor Rick Perry (although I did in the questions), Bachmann said federal policymakers have to “keep faith” with current Social Security beneficiaries. ”That’s wrong for any candidate to make senior citizens believe that they should be nervous about something they have come to count on. We need not do that, but I think at the same time we also outline our positive solutions,” Bachmann said. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”

It’s very encouraging to see some of the GOP candidates take on the Social Security during the primary season. It ensures that the topic will be an issue during the 2012 general election debate. It is important however, for republicans who wish to see true reform of our nation’s entitlement programs, do so in a manner that allows independent thinkers to actually hear our side of the debate. With an issue as sensitive as Social Security, we must not allow the left any leverage to deflect the issue, while painting conservatives as out of touch or heartless to the elderly – who as I stated above, have already paid into the system. We must be clear that reform must take place, or as Governor Palin said in Iowa:

We either do it ourselves or the world’s capital markets are going to shove it down our throats, and we’ll have no choice but to reform our entitlement programs.

Responsible, honest debate is what the American people need if we are to make the reforms that are necessary a reality.



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