So­cial Se­cu­rity dem­a­ the GOP?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

It is very dis­heart­en­ing to see Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­mary can­di­dates rac­ing to out-dem­a­gogue one an­other in de­nounc­ing Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion of So­cial Se­cu­rity as a Ponzi scheme. It used to be that Repub­li­cans at least waited un­til the gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign to pan­der to lib­er­als.

I ad­mire Perry both for telling it like it is and for hav­ing the guts to stand by his state­ment when un­der fire. That shows char­ac­ter.

Hon­est peo­ple have been warn­ing for years that our en­ti­tle­ment pro­grams, as struc­tured, are im­mi­nent train wrecks. Democrats were even say­ing it for a while, as Bill Clin­ton and Al Gore made a phony fuss about plac­ing So­cial Se­cu­rity in a lock­box.

It’s noth­ing short of out­ra­geous that our politi­cians’ in­stincts are to at­tack those who are talk­ing re­al­is­ti­cally about en­ti­tle­ments in­stead of join them in talk­ing re­al­is­ti­cally. I un­der­stand Democrats not do­ing so; I don’t even ex­pect them to any­more. But it’s un­ac­cept­able for Repub­li­cans to pile on.

Surely, ev­ery­one knows by now that our out-of-con­trol en­ti­tle­ment spend­ing poses a greater threat to the na­tion’s fu­ture even than the un­be­liev­ably dan­ger­ous path of dis­cre­tionary spend­ing we are cur­rently pur­su­ing. In­deed, isn’t the main rea­son most of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates claim to be run­ning that they want to help save Amer­ica’s fi­nan­cial fu­ture and get the econ­omy go­ing again?

Then why would some of them op­por­tunis­ti­cally em­bel­lish and even dis­tort Perry’s state­ment about So­cial Se­cu­rity? Pol­i­tics is one thing, but their de­ci­sion to grovel on this crit­i­cal is­sue does long-term dam­age to our abil­ity to de­feat Democrats on the is­sue of en­ti­tle­ment re­form and other­wise to se­cure pas­sage of leg­is­la­tion that would re­struc­ture re­forms.

For decades, the straight shoot­ers among us have been point­ing out that So­cial Se­cu­rity is a Ponzi scheme. What would you call a plan that has forced Amer­i­cans to en­trust a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of their earn­ings to politi­cians who have raided them as if they were gen­eral rev­enue?

Don’t you dare tell me that there is noth­ing wrong with this prac­tice be­cause these greedy, do-gooder politi­cians have sub­sti­tuted govern­ment IOUs in place of the So­cial Se­cu­rity rev­enues, which should have been ear­marked for re­cip­i­ents. An IOU from the govern­ment is a fraud; it’s a chimera; it’s a phan­tom as­set, es­pe­cially when the govern­ment it­self is bank­rupt. Our govern­ment no longer has the money to honor these debts it so ca­su­ally and cav­a­lierly took on in­stead of hav­ing taken the re­spon­si­ble path all these years and lived within its means.

Re­gard­less of whether you be­lieve the So­cial Se­cu­rity sys­tem, as now struc­tured, sat­is­fies the pre­cise el­e­ments of a Ponzi scheme, you have to ad­mit that if it had been cor­rectly de­signed and ad­min­is­tered, it would not be ap­proach­ing in­sol­vency and threat­en­ing our lib- erty and pros­per­ity.

Have we reached the point that telling the truth about cer­tain pro­grams is an au­to­matic death war­rant for your cam­paign? Per­son­ally, I don’t be­lieve so.

It’s fine and good for can­di­dates to claim they have strong busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence, know how to grow the econ­omy and would be fis­cally fru­gal. But one’s stated poli­cies mean noth­ing if

Why aren’t Repub­li­cans who are trash­ing Perry on this is­sue aim­ing all their rhetor­i­cal weapons against Pres­i­dent Obama and Democrats who refuse to con­sider mean­ing­ful en­ti­tle­ment re­form?

he doesn’t have the char­ac­ter to stand by them when they’re un­der at­tack or when it be­comes po­lit­i­cally ex­pe­di­ent to do other­wise.

Politi­cians se­verely harm their own cred­i­bil­ity when, for what­ever rea­son, they choose to at­tack their com­peti­tors for hav­ing the courage to de­mand national so­bri­ety on these ex­is­ten­tial fi­nan­cial threats to Amer­ica.

No mat­ter what, there is no ex­cuse for can­di­dates or their sup­port­ers to lie about or dis­tort the po­si­tions of their oppo- nents.

That’s why it was dis­turb­ing to read that Tim Paw­lenty, in an in­ter­view ex­plain­ing his de­ci­sion to en­dorse former Mas­sachusetts Gov. Mitt Rom­ney, said: “Gov. Rom­ney wants to fix So­cial Se­cu­rity. He doesn’t want to abol­ish it or end it. . . . Gov. Perry has said in the past that he thought it was ‘failed.’”

Is that a fair char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of Perry’s po­si­tion? It seems to me that Perry’s idea is much like Rep. Paul Ryan’s; Perry be­lieves that the So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits “for cur­rent re­cip­i­ents and those near­ing re­tire­ment must be pro­tected. For younger work­ers, we must con­sider re­forms to make So­cial Se­cu­rity fi­nan­cially vi­able.”

Why aren’t these Repub­li­cans who are dis­hon­estly trash­ing Perry on this is­sue aim­ing all their rhetor­i­cal weapons against Pres­i­dent Obama and the Democrats, who refuse even to con­sider mean­ing­ful en­ti­tle­ment re­form?

The way I see it, those who are shame­lessly at­tack­ing Perry on this is­sue, in an ef­fort to score cheap po­lit­i­cal points, are tempt­ing many of us to choose sides way be­fore we wanted to. So be it.

David Lim­baugh is the au­thory of “Crimes Against Lib­erty”.

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