Monday, August 15, 2011

Perry: Social Security, Medicare Are "Ponzi Schemes," Unconstitutional

In Rick Perry, the right wing gets a twofer: George Bush's ambition to destroy Social Security and Paul Ryan's ambition to destroy Medicare. In an interview with Andrew Romano of Slate, the Republican Texas governor and presidential hopeful refers to the programs as "Ponzi schemes" and unconstitutional and criticizes the entire progressive movement:

Romano: In "Fed Up!," you criticize the progressive era and the changes it produced: the 16th and 17th Amendments, Social Security, Medicare, and so on. I understand being against these things in principle—of longing for a world in which they never existed. But now that they’re part of the fabric of our society, do you think we should actually do away with them?
Perry: I think every program needs to stand the sunshine of righteous scrutiny. Whether it’s Social Security, whether it’s Medicaid, whether it’s Medicare. You’ve got $115 trillion worth of unfunded liability in those three. They’re bankrupt. They’re a Ponzi scheme. ...I happen to think that the Progressive movement was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution from the standpoint of it being abused and misused to do things that Congress wanted to do, and/or the Supreme Court wanted to implement. The New Deal was the launching pad for the Washington largesse as we know it today...
Romano: What about Medicare? That’s an even bigger contributor to these debt problems.
Perry: ...I think it’s an abuse of our Constitution. There’s no place in the Constitution that says Washington, D.C., is supposed to be mandated health-care coverage, for example...

In 1937, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo answered critics like Perry:

Social Security critics do not like to talk about the fact that the Supreme Court definitively put the question to rest in 1937. After Congress adopted the Social Security Act at President Franklin Roosevelt's urging, it was challenged on constitutional grounds. In Helvering v. Davis, the Supreme Court upheld the act by a 7-2 vote. Justice Benjamin Cardozo, writing for the majority, said the Taxing and Spending Clause authorized Congress to levy taxes and spend money to advance the "general welfare" and that Congress was within its right to find "that the award of old age benefits would be conducive to the general welfare."

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