As widely discussed, Rick Perry wrote a book, published last November, in which he argued that the program is unconstitutional, a Ponzi scheme, and “a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.” Now that the national eye has turned to the matter in light of his presidential run, well, this is happening:
[Perry’s] communications director, Ray Sullivan, said Thursday that he had “never heard” the governor suggest the program was unconstitutional. Not only that, Mr. Sullivan said, but “Fed Up!” is not meant to reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix the program.
Just to review: Perry’s less-than-a-year-old book, which is subtitled “Our Fight to Save America from Washington,” is not meant to reflect Perry’s current national policy prescriptions.
Every candidate experiences a bit of whiplash when they go from politicking in a state with its own normative ideological spectrum to a national campaign — Romney’s evolution on abortion is an often-cited example — but Perry’s spine-bending contortions in this case are a special testament to Social Security’s hallowed political status, not to mention a pretty good indication that he was not premeditating his presidential bid last year.
UPDATE: Dave Weigel pulls out some of the stronger passages from Fed Up! and delivers this gem:
Now, if you say Social Security is a failure, as I have just done, you will inherit the wind of political scorn. Seniors might think you want to cut the benefits they have paid for. Politicians will seek to take advantage, stirring up fear about benefits that will be lost if you elect another “heartless Republican.” I get it. That’s why only retired senators chair entitlement commissions.
We are told that no politician has the courage to raise these issues, even if avoiding them puts us on the fast track to financial ruin. But by remaining quiet, politicians are really saying they think the American people won’t understand it if we share the grim details of our financial future, and that voters will simply kill — or vote against — the messenger in order to continue to receive an underfunded benefit that robbed them of the tens of thousands of dollars they should have made.
Is that how we should respect our fellow citizens? By underestimating their intelligence, their desire to retire with greater stability, or their commitment to the next generation?
Who could have predicted?