Will Rick Perry regret calling Social Security a 'monstrous lie'?

The 2012 candidate expands on his claim that the popular program is essentially a Ponzi scheme — potentially alienating elderly voters

Texas Gov. Rick Perry
(Image credit: REUTERS/Jim Young)

Campaigning in Iowa this weekend, presidential candidate Rick Perry stepped up his criticism of Social Security. The Texas governor, who's been topping 2012 polls, suggested in his anti-Washington book Fed Up! that Social Security is essentially a Ponzi scheme. Though his staff has tried to downplay that position, Perry, asked to defend it this weekend, said the program is a "monstrous lie," because young people are paying into a system that won't be there for them when they retire. Is it unstrategic to attack Social Security when millions of elderly voters rely on it?

This may haunt Perry: The Texas conservative wrote himself into a corner with Fed Up!, says Maggie Haberman at Politico. His no-nonsense, pro-states-rights book appeals to the Republican base, but "discussions of major changes to Social Security are alarming to seniors." Perry will have a lot of explaining to do on the campaign trail: Badmouthing Social Security is not how you win votes in critical swing states like Florida.

"Perry back to 'Ponzi scheme,' 'monstrous lie' on Social Security"

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At least someone is leveling with young people: Traditionally, each generation invests heavily in its children, says John Hinderaker at Power Line. Today's crop of "retirees is the first ever to demand its money back." For many, "Social Security and Medicare benefits will be enough not only to repay with interest the contributions into those programs, but to go a long way toward reimbursing the total amount spent on food, clothing, shelter and education for their children." But youthful voters really are getting a raw deal, and they should be grateful to Perry for speaking up on their behalf.

"Truth-telling on the campaign trail"

What helps in the primary could backfire in the general election: It's this kind of talk that is "energizing tea party supporters" and making Perry a frontrunner to win the GOP nomination, says Danny Yadron at The Wall Street Journal. But it's also fueling doubts about Perry's odds in a general election against President Obama. One thing's for sure: Even if Perry's controversial views poison his chances with moderate voters, "Rick Perry will continue to be Rick Perry."

"Perry again calls Social Security a Ponzi scheme"

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