msnbc News   |  September 07, 2011

Perry calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme'

Texas governor says program is a “monstrous lie” for younger Americans, Mitt Romney says it works and he would preserve it.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> governor perry, you said you wrote the book "fed up" to start a conversation, congratulations, it has certainly done that in recent weeks. in the book, you call social security the best example of a program that "violently tossed aside any respect for state's rights." we understand your position that it's got funding problems now, i'd like you to explain your view that social security was wrong right from the beginning.

>> well, i think any of us that want to go back and change 70 years of what's been going on in this country is probably going to have a difficult time, and rather than spending a lot of time talking about what those folks were doing back in the '30s and the '40s is a nice intellectual conversation, but the fact is we have to focus on how we're going to change this program, and people on social security today, men and women who are receiving those benefits today are individuals at my age that are in line pretty quick to get them, they don't have to worry about anything. but i think the republican candidates are talking about ways to transition this program, and it is a monstrous lie. 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.

>> okay. thank you. i'll follow up on that, you mentioned the phrase " ponzi scheme ." just this morning, your former political advisor carl rove said that type of language could be toxic, as he put it, in a general election . vice president cheney gave an interview today when he said it's not a ponzi scheme , "it's a program that a great many people depend on." my understanding is you're standing by every word you've written in that book.

>> carl has been over the top for a long time in some of his remarks. i'm not responsible for carl anymore.

>> vice president cheney said it's not a ponzi scheme , you're saying it is.

>> absolutely. if vice president cheney or anyone else says the program we have in place today, and young people who are paying into that, expect that program to be sound and for them to receive benefits when they research retirement age , that is just a lie, and i don't care what anyone says, we know that, the american people know that, but more importantly, those 25-year-olds know that.

>> governor romney, let's be blunt, let's be blunt, democrats are itching to use that kind of provocative language, but you yourself say there's problems, how do you have a candid question about social security without scaring seniors?

>> the funding program of social security is not working, and congress has been raiding the dollars from social security to pay for annual government expenditures. that's wrong. the funding, however, is not an issue. in the book "fed up," you say by any measure social security is a failure. you can't say that to tens of millions of americans who live on social security and those who have lived on it. our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing social security but is committed to saving social security . we have always had, at the heart of our party, a recognition that we want to care for those in need, and our seniors have the need of social security . i'll make sure we keep the program and make it financially secure. we save social security and under no circumstances, would i ever say by any measure it's a failure. it is working for millions of americans , and i'll keep it working for millions of americans , and we've got to do that as a party.

>> governor perry, a 30-second rebuttal. he said vice president cheney is right and you're wrong about social security .

>> we're not about picking fights here, we're about fixing things. you can have reason or results. you cannot keep the status quo in place and not call anything other than a ponzi scheme . it is. that is what it is. americans know that, and regardless of what anyone says, oh, it's not, and that's provocative language, maybe it's time to have some provocative language in this country and say things like let's get america working again and do whatever it takes to make that happen.