Romney clearly outclassed him, when he even defended Perry over his decision to mandate by executive order cervical infection inoculations for young women in Texas instead of going to the state legislature first, he appeared more presidential than ever. "I'm certain we all would do things differently if given a do-over or a mulligan," quipped Romney.
Classy. I wonder how many Americans were having some buyer's remorse the other night, thinking what might have been in 2008, if the country had rejected Obama and chosen Romney instead.
But Perry really stepped into it badly in answer to his comment about the Ponzi scheme being likened to Social Security.
The Simpson-Bowles committee tasked with studying America's debt and deficit problem a few years ago coined the phrase that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme and the moniker has stuck. Alan Simpson, customarily verbose and outspoken has referred to what Social Security is currently doing as running a Ponzi scheme, so Governor Perry is merely repeating what he's heard. It's guaranteed to set off a fire storm of denial and attempts to re-explain later, but the cat's out of the bag now that the words have come out of the mouth of a presidential candidate. Here's the way Simpson characterized Social Security in his Congressional testimony:
So is it really a Ponzi scheme? Not really, because there is no fraud involved. You can argue the trust fund has been mismanaged, since the assets were long ago raided to satisfy the general fund of the U.S. Government, but it has always been a system where it has taken in more than enough to handle payouts to subsequent recipients. Cutting spending is a splendid idea, and we must certainly do that, but growing the economy through pro-growth policies will do far more than drastic cuts.
Social Security is comprised of people who funded it and counted on collecting the benefit in their retirement years. I filed for benefits the first day I was eligible on my 62nd birthday, and like clockwork my monthly check shows up in my bank account. That's hardly fraud.
I am not alone, because I know many in my baby boomer category who are receiving exactly what they expected based upon their work history to qualify for the income supplement promised. The promise of future safety is being realized every day. The problem isn't what is happening today, it's what the demographic studies and the projected revenue confirms what will happen in the near future years unless something is done to amend the funding assumptions.
These facts don't rise to the accusations of being a “fraudulent scheme.” It's not even as bad as Professor Harold Hill's scheme to sell band instruments and uniforms in Gary, Indiana and then skip town. That was attempted fraud until a sweet Marian librarian straightened him out, but Social Security is just an entitlement program badly in need of revision. And the revision choices are not that difficult. Governor Perry is right to warn the younger generation that unless it is modified they will not be able to collect. That should be obvious. But the hyperbole has to stop. It might play well in Texas, but it isn't presidential and not worthy of the eventual Republican nominee.
The threat from President Obama to withhold Social Security payments in August unless he got a debt and deficit deal was even less presidential. Leaders must lead or be replaced at the ballot box. Obama is coming under increasing scrutiny after Thursday's jobs speech, many of his base completely disheartened now about his re-election prospects.
The assumptions about demographics, productivity, and economic growth will need to be revisited so they can either be sustained for future benefits to its future recipients, or lacking the political will to amend it just be allowed to expire.
As I've studied it in more depth this last year, I have become convinced it can be repaired rather easily. It will require some combination of benefit cuts and tax rate hikes in order to reduce the spending or to increase the revenue being paid in; or we will have to witness a growth in the numbers in the workforce and in their individual and collective productivity to dramatically step up the revenue side and avoid increasing tax rates. Thomas Sowell weighed in on the debate too.
Historically, we could almost with certainty predict self-funding because of the predictable growth in productivity, the number of workers and the overall macroeconomic benefit of skilled workers producing more widgets with ever-increasing efficiency. This latest long-lasting recession has blown all those growth assumptions right off their hinges.
I still remain hopeful that if the correct growth policies are still put in place that favor expansion, lower taxes, some certainty about the role of government regulatory practices being put in place in the upcoming election of 2012, these stagnating and stubborn economic problems can be resolved. It will take growth beyond all the proposed cutting to lift us out of this quagmire we are in.
If ever there were a time in human history when false ideas were more prevalent than they are today, I do not know when it might be. The Obama administration's bold Keynesian experiment as painful to watch and feel as it has been, is now on life support and dying quickly. In his attempts to put into practice the bold and false theoretical agenda of Keynes, my hope is that at last reason will prevail and we will re-emerge from this tragic period and forever bury the false ideas of Keynesian philosophy once and for all. I never imagined in my lifetime we would ever seen another attempt to resurrect it the way we have under Obama. November 2012 cannot come soon enough.
"[John Maynard] Keynes' disciples were shocked when, long after his death, it became known that he had, in a private letter, said of my book, The Road To Serfdom, that morally and philosophically he found himself in agreement with virtually the whole of it -- and, not only in agreement, but in deeply moved agreement. . . [However] He qualified his approval by the curious belief that dangerous acts can be done safely in a country that thinks rightly -- which [Hayek asserted] could be the way to hell if they were executed by those who feel wrongly." (Emphasis mine).
All of which is to underscore the point. Cut, Cap and Balance is imperative in some acceptable combination, but all of it is only a good first step. What is needed is sustained and predictable growth like the 59-point proposal Mitt Romney has put forward for review and scrutiny in the buildup to the election. His leadership is welcome, and so is the plan put forward by Jon Huntsman, hailed by The Wall Street Journal as the best they've seen to date. Take your pick -- either one works for me, because both contain the kind of pro economic growth policies sadly lacking in President Obama's Keynesian administration.
|John Maynard Keynes|
If you pressed Obama to the wall, he would undoubtedly stand by this statement from John Maynard Keynes in 1933: "The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the War, is not a success. It is not intelligent; it is not beautiful; it is not just; it is not virtuous - and it does not deliver the goods. In short we dislike it - and are beginning to despise it." So beginning with Social Security in 1937, the course was set toward government being the end-all, be-all for everyone and everything.
Until 2010, we continued down the path of more and more government intervention into our lives. That's when Americans finally awakened to their terrible plight, and in an historic mid-term election stripped Obama of his majority in the House and sent Nancy Pelosi to the back bench.
Thanks very much for proving the case, Mr. Obama. America will take Hayek's private enterprise growth engine now that you have almost single-handedly discredited Keynesian philosophy and economic theory. The State must be toppled, and we as Americans will do it at the ballot box in November 2012, without a single shot being fired in the revolution. Individual freedom is on the rise once again.
That way, we'll be able to tamp down the hyperbole about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and get on with the serious business putting America back on the map economically.
We have stared over the edge into the Keynesian abyss, and we didn't like the view.