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

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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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About Encore

  • 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.