In an editorial in USA Today, Governor Rick Perry doubled down on his message that we need to reform Social Security to insure the security of future retirees.
Although I agree that the more pressing crisis is obviously jobs, I am also aware that the Social Security shortfall means it’s highly, highly unlikely that I will retire after a lifetime of either 1. paying the same payroll tax rate I have been for the past few years (even before the Obama payroll tax cut), 2. receiving the same benefits, structured the same way (hell, it’s possible I won’t get them at all!).
It’s a funny thing when my generation is being crushed by both the short-term crisis (which has exploded unemployment among the 18-29 cohort) and the long-term crisis (which will leave us with greatly reduced social insurance 40 years down the road).
So the more plans on the table with entitlements, whether it’s the Chilean Model, changing the way we index benefits from wage growth to inflation, or even raising the payroll tax cap; color me as Ross Perot: all ears. Frankly, I look forward to Governor Perry’s actual plan (as opposed to him just noticing that the math doesn’t add up).
However, what irked me a bit in Perry’s post was the suggestion that his rhetoric about Social Security was something new and innovative. Specifically, he said that “[f]or too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security. We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come.”
Of course, there was this other Texan, fellow was actually President of the United States not that long ago, who also talked about Social Security reform. He boldly declared, in his 2005 State of the Union address that “I know that none of these reforms would be easy. But we have to move ahead with courage and honesty, because our children’s retirement security is more important than partisan politics.”
I’m all for political honesty. A little intellectual honesty wouldn’t hurt either.
PS: A message for the Governor. The reason everybody is ganging up on you now has a lot to do with what happened politically to that other Texan after he started talking Social Security. Just a heads up.