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Is Rick Perry “Reckless and Wrong” on Social Security?


Texas Governor Rick Perry — currently the leading Republican candidate — has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie.” And you can bet his opponents won’t let him forget it.

Perry, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachman and other candidates for the Republican presidential nomination will take the stage in Tampa tonight for the latest Republican debate, and Social Security is likely to be at the forefront.  It’s likely to get heated, according to several sources, in large part because Florida has a large senior population.

Bachman, for one, plans to attack Perry on Social Security, according to the Washington Examiner. “Bernie Madoff deals with Ponzi schemes, not the grandparents of America,” a Bachmann adviser told the paper.  “Clearly she feels differently about the value of Social Security than Gov. Perry does.  She believes Social Security needs to be saved, that it’s an important safety net for Americans who have paid into it all their lives.”

Romney is likely preparing for a fight on the topic as well.  Already, his campaign has offered up fliers to Florida voters that present Perry as wanting to “kill” Social Security and claim that he is “reckless and wrong” on the issue, according to Tampa Bay Online.

In debates thus far, Perry has not backed off his position on Social Security. (For the record, he doesn’t want to abolish the program right away, but does think it needs serious reform.) And according to the Wall Street Journal, the position doesn’t seem to be turning off seniors: More than 40% of registered Republicans over 50 favor Perry, compared to 22% who back Romney.


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    • The SS model (from 50 years ago) was retirement payment based on contribution, years-of-service, and year-of-death(age 70′s). Since the formula, contribution, years-of-service are essentially the same but over time, people now live a lot longer (80′s), the payout exceeds the input.

      The model is now “broken”, since the age parameter (age to death) has changed. For those who want to maintain existing model, then retiree have to terminate at an earlier age(?) … I don’t think anyone wants to do that … thus the model needs to be update.

    • Let’s see now … the SS trust fund have $/Trillions of dollars (IOUs=Tbonds).
      If SSA call in the $/Trillions today … what happens?
      The gov’t have to either go out to borrow another trillion (issue a trillion dollar of bonds) or tax someone (YOU) a trillion dollar.
      A ponzi scheme???

      The money in the trust fund is already SPEND. The only difference between this and other Ponzi scheme is that they will pay you back. BUT to pay you back they borrow the money from you’re grandkids or take money (via taxes)from you.

    • He is right. I admire his courage!
      If you want to reform it get these lazy, fat, drug and TV addicted people who claim to have back aches etc…. while still doing every fun thing they want.. off of disabilty payments!

    • As a Texan, I want all of you folks to vote for Perry. Anything to get him out of Texas!! I would like to hear his comments when he matures to 65 with some sense, and he applies for Social Security.

    • Common folks are we afaid to tell seniors the truth. Most seniors will get their S.S benefits, it’s our kids who will not. S.S. is one big I.O.U. and we all know it. They will pay into a tax/benefit with no return. We need to pick a cut off age for current beneficiaries do a major reform of the system. I would gladly give up 50% of my current S.S. payments for the disabled and for all of the S.S. beneficiaries that never contributed ( this is why it is a tax and not a true benefit) if I were able to keep and manage the other 50%. I know that I could certainly do better than the current return by the U.S. government. And for the person who may not know how to invest put it a selected acct. broad market acct. which is designated for that person and their family. Remember all of your S.S. benefit is lost if you should pass and nothing can be inherited by your family. So yes I believe Mr. Perry is right your money is not there and never has been since the government originally started to borrow from it.
      I know what will continue to happen politicians will continue to scare, blame and fail to take responsiblity for this. Time is not on our side for this one the bill will come due sooner or later then watch out everyone.

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  • Encore examines the changing nature of retirement, from new rules and guidelines for financial security to the shifting identities and priorities of today’s retirees. The blog also explores news that affects retirement, from the Wall Street Journal Digital Network and around the web. Lead bloggers are reporter Catey Hill and senior editor Jeremy Olshan. Other contributors include The Wall Street Journal’s retirement columnists Glenn Ruffenach and Anne Tergesen; the Director for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Alicia Munnell; and the Director of Research for Pinnacle Advisory Group, Michael Kitces, CFP.