Thursday, September 22, 2011

Making Sense of Rick Perry on Social Security: Not So Hard to Leave It to the States

I adore Rick Perry.  I think he will make a great president.  I wish we could pick a presidential candidate without forcing him to rely on his weak point - debating in public. 

I was a little mystified by his answer on social security tonight and the gap between the words in his book and his understanding that states do exempt their public employees from social security.  Instead of getting all philosophical, I think it is simpler to simply observe that Perry made a mistake in his communications. 

As I understand it, Romney is arguing that it would be somehow physically impossible to give social security over to the states to handle.  Perry's response, as I understand it, was to argue - tonight - that many states are already substituting their own programs for those offered by social security.  I know this is true because of my own family experience.  My father, as a life-long state employee of California, was never a big contributor to social security.  Instead, his retirement needs were met by the state of California through its own retirement system. 

Somehow, however, this common sense observation got lost in translation tonight and Perry allowed Romney to score enough points that Romney came off looking like the winner tonight.  (Personally, I was more upset by Perry's comments regarding in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants.) 

Nevertheless, I'd like to see Perry double or triple the time he spend preparing for these debates.  I think he will remain the front runner because of his track record of job creation in Texas. I wish I could drive to Austin and give Rick Perry my advice.  I can only hope one of his staff members reads these comments and wakes up to the break down in communication that is making Perry look a little rocky in his presentation skills.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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