Perry’s Ponzi scheme remark attacked at CNN/Tea Party Express debate

September 13, 2011

Excited and energized barely describes how I felt, as a Tea Party Patriot, when I received the Tea Party Express notice by e-mail that the Tea Party Express, along with more than 150 local tea party groups from every state across the country, were teaming up with CNN to co-host and submit questions to the eight Republican presidential candidates in front of a live audience in Tampa, Florida.

In that 150 local tea party groups from every state across the country were allowed to team up with CNN points to the undeniable truth that the power and influence of the tea party movement is a force to be reckoned with by the media, despite recent derogatory remarks geared to diminish the influence of the tea party in the 2012 elections.

As I turned on my TV to watch the debate, I was curious to see how long it would take before a question would be asked of Governor Rick Perry about his Social Security Ponzi scheme remark, which the mainstream media was only too eager to hype, after Perry made the controversial remark in a previous Republican debate at the President Reagan Library in CA.

Much has been made of the inappropriateness of Governor Perry’s remark and whether the other seven Republican candidates would heap ridicule upon Perry’s use of a Ponzi scheme in describing the nature of Social Security.  Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney were described as the “to watch” candidates in the CNN debate.

I didn’t have to wait long for my curiosity to be satisfied, as the first question asked by a tea party member was:  “How will you convince senior citizens that Social Security and Medicare need to be changed and still get their votes?”

Host Wolf Blitzer, as would be expected, directed the question first to Governor Perry, in what seemed like a setup to me.  While Perry was responding to the question at hand by indicating that Social Security must be saved and reformed, this caption was running at the bottom of my TV screen:

“Ponzi – Now says he wants to reform Social Security without any harsh language, what’s changed.”

Host Wolf Blitzer, not one to let allow Governor Perry to duck what looked like the possibility of encouraging some harsh rhetoric against Perry from the other Republican presidential contenders, called Perry out on his Social Security Ponzi scheme remark by asking Perry to explain what he meant.

Governor Perry’s follow-through remark made sense to me.  To paraphrase:  Back 30 to 40 years ago did the government make all the right decisions?  I think not.  How Social Security was designed by Roosevelt in the 30’s needs to be fixed and reformed so it can continue into the future.

Despite Wolf Blitzer’s attempt to engage the other seven candidates in dumping upon Perry, he wasn’t all that successful when he proceeded to ask this question of each candidate,  “Do you agree with Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme?”

While Perry and Romney did have some exchanges which remained somewhat civil, none of the other candidates followed through or took the bait in heaping ridicule upon Perry for his Ponzi scheme remark.  All admitted, however, that Social Security was broken and needed to be fixed.

Hermann Cain said that Social Security was broken, but he didn’t care what it was called.  Ron Paul likewise remarked that Social Security was broken, how all the money had been spent, and that young people should be allowed to get out of social security and go it on their own.  Newt Gingrich made an interesting comment, saying that he wasn’t concerned about how Perry and Romney might be frightening the American people, when Obama is frightening them every day.

Even Michelle Bachmann had no derogatory comments to say about Perry’s remark, as I had been led to believe would happen in watching Fox News during the day.  Perhaps Michelle Bachmann listened to Rush Limbaugh when during his Monday show he warned the 2012 Republican field not to use Perry’s remarks against him, specifically naming Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney?

Although Rush Limbaugh has not endorsed anybody, he reminded his listeners that criticism of Perry’s Ponzi scheme remark could backfire.  Rush then proceeded to read a list of many in politics who have referred to Social Security as a Ponzi scheme, dating back to Paul Samuelson in 1967.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes a Ponzi scheme as “an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and bigger risks.”

Social Security began collecting taxes in 1937 and began in 1940 to pay their first benefit recipient, Ida May Fuller.  Mr. Fuller worked for three years under the Social Security program before she retired.  The Social Security taxes on her salary were $24.75; her initial monthly check was $22.54; and she lived to collect $22,888.92.  Essentially, Ms. Fuller earned a spectacular 925% return on her investment.

As Governor Perry remarked when he penned an op-ed in the USA Today on Monday, Sept. 12: “Americans deserve a frank and honest discussion of the dire financial challenges facing the nearly 80-year-old program,” saying that the program needs to be reformed to make it “financially viable” younger workers.

Even if Gov. Perry is not your number one choice, it is not possible to deny that Social Security must be reformed.  For younger workers it is especially important, as many already believe that Social Security will not be around for them when it’s time for them to retire.


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