Social Security retirement benefits, SSDI, and SSI (also known as Title XVI benefits) have long been hot topics between opposing political parties and candidates. This year, in particular, the issue of a much-needed reform the Social Security system has been the cause of intense debates in both the House and Senate. As incumbent President Obama’s term nears an end, rival politicians have risen to the challenge of debating these and other issues in efforts to sway popular opinion and win a presidential nomination from their parties.
During the Republican candidate debates this week, one presidential hopeful, Rick Perry, has created quite a stir with his promise to address the future of the Social Security programs.
Many politicians and those in the general public are outraged at what appears to be a determination on Perry’s part to abolish the federal Social Security and Social Security Disability programs. In a recent debate, Perry called the illusion of the future of Social Security a “monstrous lie” and a “Ponzi scheme.”
For those who advocate the protection of Social Security benefits for seniors and disabled citizens, those are "fighting words." It is no news that Democrats use Republicans’ stance on Social Security as political fodder, but even within the Republican Party, rival candidate Mitt Romney has loudly criticized Perry for his stance and plans to use it against him as he strives to win the nomination.
Supporters of Perry point out that in the speech which incited so much outrage, Rick Perry said he would not take away the support of those currently dependent on Social Security - he merely wants to reform it for the use of future generations. Along with most economic and financial forecasters, Perry believes that without reformations Social Security will not be a retirement option for the current members of the workforce who are paying into the program.
It is true that the Social Security programs are in crisis. At the rate the programs are going, it is estimated that funds will run completely dry between 2015 and 2030. This is due mostly to the fact that as Baby Boomers retire, those collecting benefits far outweigh the number of payees from the significantly smaller generation of current workers. With no reform, bankruptcy of the program is practically inevitable. Although many politicians agree with these facts, they fail to agree on how to reform the system. Republicans have traditionally promoted harsher, more drastic cuts and re-structures to the program, whereas Democrats do not.
In this presidential nomination debate, many candidates are keeping their true opinions of Social Security to themselves, afraid that expressing strong opinions will damage their chances of a nomination. From all other appearances, Mitt Romney seems to have a similar stance on the failing Social Security program, but in these debates, he is distancing himself from it. Across political lines, it is a strength for political candidate to get past concern for popular opinion and not be afraid to express their beliefs.
While it is doubtful that Rick Perry will completely eliminate Social Security if he is nominated the GOP presidential candidate and goes all the way to White House, it is fairly certain that he would implement a number of drastic changes to ensure the "social security" of future generations.