When a presidential candidate is asked about an issue they tout, while appearing on a national forum, and they reply with “let’s have a conversation” (as Rick Perry did on Social Security at the last presidential debate) what does that mean? That they have hyped a problem and are short on solutions? Do they want to ‘test the waters’ before figuring out a plan?
Tonight’s presidential debate in Orlando, Florida, is the perfect setting to ask Rick Perry for details on his stance on Social Security.
In advance of Thursday’s debate in Orlando, the Romney for President campaign released a series of questions for Governor Rick Perry about his proposal to “let the states [decide] how to run the pensions.” Questions about Perry’s proposal to return Social Security to the states have so far gone unanswered.
“This election is about choices and voters – and voters will have the opportunity to choose between Mitt Romney, who wants to fix and strengthen Social Security for the next generation, and Rick Perry, who wants to dismantle it. Voters are now learning more about Rick Perry’s position on Social Security and find it troubling that he has refused to answer questions on what the Social Security program would look like at the state level, as Rick Perry suggests. Governor Perry has the opportunity to clarify his proposal while he is in Florida – a state with an extraordinarily high number of retirees and near retirees,” said Gail Gitcho, Romney Communications Director.
1. Constitutionality: Perry has asserted that a federally run Social Security program is unconstitutional. If this remains his position, it suggests that the program must be devolved to the states notwithstanding the advisability of such an approach. The first question in understanding Perry’s approach must be whether he believes there is no choice but to devolve or, alternatively, if he believes it is the right policy solution.
2. Unfunded Liabilities: Devolving the program to the states does not address underlying fiscal challenges. Where a single program once faced possible insolvency, there would now be fifty. How would Perry suggest a state such as Texas address this challenge? Should it raise taxes, reduce benefits, or pursue other types of reform?
3. Trust Fund Accounting: What would happen to the Trust Fund that accrued while the system was in surplus? Interest payments from the fund and draw-down on the principal are crucial funding streams for the national system that are unavailable to the states. How would those funds be equitably allocated to the states?
4. Mobility: How would a state-by-state system accommodate the enormous number of Americans who move across state lines during their lives, and especially as retirement nears? Would each state be responsible for supporting its current disabled and elderly population on its current payroll? Would funds paid into the system in one state follow a resident to another state later in life?
5. State Obligations: Would states be free to forego a pension program altogether? If so, what if any provision would be made for the disabled and elderly in that state? Or would they be expected to move to other states with more generous benefits, inevitably overwhelming those systems?
6. Administration: Would individuals retain national Social Security numbers or would each state administer its own system? Would individuals have any guarantee that commitments made during their working life are honored in retirement? Who would pay for the added expense associated with administering fifty programs instead of one?
Perry wrote in his book Fed UP! that social security is unconstitutional. So, is Perry going to support a program he believes is unconstitutional? I hope Mitt zings him on this.
WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney’s campaign said Wednesday it has ruled out the idea, floated by fellow Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry, of moving Social Security to the state level.
“We reject turning the program over to the states,” Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told The Huffington Post in an email.
► Jayde Wyatt
UPDATE from MittRomney.com
HOW MANY WAYS CAN RICK PERRY BE WRONG ON SOCIAL SECURITY?
“I Haven’t Backed Off Anything In My Book. So Read The Book Again And Get It Right.” (Los Angeles Times, 8/29/11)
· Perry Says Republicans Agree Social Security Is “Wrong.” PERRY: “Republicans have identified that Social Security is wrong.” (Fox News’ “Hannity,” 9/21/11)
· “Let The States Do It…” PERRY: “When you look at Social Security, it’s broke. … Get it back to the states. Why is the federal government even in the pension program or the health care delivery program? Let the states do it.” (MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” 11/5/10)
· “At The Expense Of Respect For The Constitution…” PERRY: “Social Security is something that we’ve been forced to accept for more than 70 years now … at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.” (Rick Perry, Fed Up!, 2010, p. 50)
· A Program “We Don’t Need…” PERRY: “I think every program needs to stand the sunshine of righteous scrutiny. Whether it’s Social Security, whether it’s Medicaid, whether it’s Medicare. You’ve got $115 trillion worth of unfunded liability in those three. … And I think we should have a legitimate, honest, national discussion about Washington’s continuing to spend money we don’t have on programs that we don’t need.” (Andrew Romano, “Rick Perry On The Record,” The Daily Beast, 8/12/11)
· “A Failure…” PERRY: “By any measure, Social Security is a failure.” (Rick Perry, Fed Up, 2010, p. 62)
· “Let The States … Run The Pensions.” PERRY: “There’s a number of things in that book that will strike Americans as horrifying. And we must, as a people, get put back in the box. Get this government back to the limited form that our founding fathers sought. Let the states, whether it is how to run Medicaid, how to run the pensions.” (FOX’s “On The Record With Greta Van Susteren,” 11/8/10)