GOP Candidates Debate Social Security

Gov. Rick Perry has been on the record calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and the comments came under fire by Mitt Romney during the GOP presidential debate while Herman Cain offered up the boldest and best solution for reforming the failed entitlement.

Romney said you cannot say that to the tens of millions that social security is a failure. He believes that Republicans ought to nominate “someone who is not committed to abolishing social security” but instead saving social security. He argues that the program must be kept and made financially secure. Romney used Social Security as an issue to distinguish himself from Perry, but he sounded more like an apologist for the program which Perry accurately regards as a failure.

While Romney and Perry disagreed rhetorically on Social Security, Herman Cain jumped in with the keenest solution: use the model deployed successfully in Chile. “I believe in the Chilean mode,” Cain said, “where you give a personal retirement account option so we can move this society from an entitlement society to an empowerment society.” The Chilean approach requires a payroll contributions for individuals but allows them to invest and manage the accounts themselves, personal accounts, giving people control over their retirement future instead of government.  “That is a solution to the problem,” Cain added. “Let’s just fix it.”

Perry has not indicated he believes, like Cain, in the Chilean approach, but has not backed down on his harsh critique of Social Security even when under fire during the debate: “It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you’re paying into a program that’s going to be there. Anybody that’s for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it’s not right.”

Perry’s rhetoric on Social Security is good but Cain has the right approach to reform. Hopefully some of the other GOP candidates will follow Cain’s lead on this one.