Poll: Voters disagree that Social Security is a “monstrous lie”

posted at 2:45 pm on September 13, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Even after an op-ed in USA Today and a strong exposition of his position in last night’s debate, Rick Perry still draws heat for his characterization of Social Security as a “monstrous lie.” A new CNN/ORC poll, for example, reveals that 72 percent of registered voters say Perry’s description of the program is “inaccurate,” while just 27 percent say it is “truthful.” More of the breakdown from WSJ’s Washington Wire:

The survey also shows that 59 percent of tea party supporters disagree with Mr. Perry’s characterization.

Still, 55 percent of those polled say there’s a serious problem with Social Security that will require major changes.

The R/D/I breakdown and methodology weren’t provided and the poll has a margin of error of three percentage points. A poll conducted by TheStreet.com shows a little more than 76 percent disagree that SS is a Ponzi scheme, while about 24 percent say it is. That poll is skewed by the perspective of the website which draws a certain left-leaning readers, but does on some level corroborate the results of the CNN poll. Still, as the Washington Wire points out, much of the kerfuffle about Social Security has as much to do with the language Perry chooses to use than his actual views on the program.

It’s worth noting that his rivals’ attacks on Mr. Perry are just as much about his word choice as his suggestion in his 2010 book “Fed Up” that Social Security violates the U.S. Constitution.

The Texas governor has said there should be a national conversation about Social Security, and that he wouldn’t alter benefits for those currently receiving the benefit or those who are nearing retirement.

If it’s a national conversation Rick Perry wanted, it’s a national conversation he’s getting. The extensive talk of entitlement reform at last night’s debate was long overdue — but, as positive as that development is, it still doesn’t go far enough. Wolf Blitzer managed to make every candidate say what he or she would do to reform the Medicare prescription drug program — but, by and large, candidates still shy away from discussing Medicare reform. And, unfortunately, that program breaks the bank, as well. Just as cutting waste, fraud and abuse won’t balance the budget, so reforming Social Security alone won’t, either. As Herman Cain said last night, it doesn’t matter what we call these entitlement programs, it just matters that we understand they’re broken — and start talking solutions. This guy tried, remember? It’s time to try again.


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Any time someone disagrees with the notion that SSA is a Ponzi scheme, just walk them through the money flow. It might take 20-30 mins (I like to use my Dry Erase board for co-workers), but they’ll get it eventually.

I made one co-worker cry after smashing her “Obama is awesome” view of the world. A conservative convert in 30 mins. Not bad.

BobMbx on September 13, 2011 at 2:51 PM

The scary thing is it doesn’t matter whether one uses current dollars (my preferred whipping stick), percentage of GDP or percentage of taxable payroll; it’s damn ugly.

That reminds me; I’m overdue for another SocSecurity post. I think I’ll finally adopt the 2011 Trustees’ report as my starting point, even though that will take some jiggering to put into a monthly projection.

Steve Eggleston on September 13, 2011 at 5:38 PM

The media skew a poll? Nahhhhhhh, never happen.

Cough, cough, Obowma at 42% approval rating, cough, cough.

It is a scam, with 1.75 people supporting every one recipient in the fund now and you earn .060% interest on you dollar? A retirement plan based on bonds and stocks will yield 4% – 10% interest annually.

dthorny on September 13, 2011 at 5:41 PM

A poll conducted by TheStreet.com shows a little more than 76 percent disagree that SS is a Ponzi scheme, while about 24 percent say it is.

.
Voters. I’m losing faith fast in the wisdom of “the people” and their power to ascertain truth where government action is concerned. Maybe the problem is that they substitute the politicians’ judgement for their own in all cases “because, after, he/she represents me in Washington, DC.”

ExpressoBold on September 13, 2011 at 5:53 PM

As for the larger point, Monty has it right – we are terminally boned. I guess nobody hsa figured out where we’re going to get the $6.8 trillion over the next 25 years to monetize the “trust funds” through 2036 if the 2011 edition of the intermediate scenario is right, much less the $5.4 trillion over the next 19 years if the 2011 edition of the high-cost scenario is right.

By the way, the 2009 and 2010 trustees reports missed rather badly for both 2010 and 2011 under both the intermediate and high-cost scenarios.

Steve Eggleston on September 13, 2011 at 5:55 PM

On two occasions, Blitzer asked Perry if he supported Medicare PArt D.

Twice, Perry said yes and offered no qualifiers.

So easy to talk tough, but when the rubber hits the road and tough decisions have to be made, politicians arent ready because they people arent ready.

This is still a republic. Forcefeeding the electorate ideas it doesnt support doesnt work.

swamp_yankee on September 13, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Forcefeeding the electorate ideas it doesnt support doesnt work.

swamp_yankee on September 13, 2011 at 5:57 PM

No, but opening doors forbidden to be opened might open eyes.

Limerick on September 13, 2011 at 6:10 PM

On two occasions, Blitzer asked Perry if he supported Medicare PArt D.

Twice, Perry said yes and offered no qualifiers.

So easy to talk tough, but when the rubber hits the road and tough decisions have to be made, politicians arent ready because they people arent ready.

This is still a republic. Forcefeeding the electorate ideas it doesnt support doesnt work.

swamp_yankee on September 13, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Therein lies the fundamental problem. Any actuary with a brain knows that the costs of even the “under-budget” Part D will absolutely explode out of control, and nobody (and I mean NOBODY) is willing to do more than tinker around the edges because it has become an entitlement.

In the unwillingness to bite the bullet and say “No more” department, we are no better than the rioting Greeks and French, and their haircuts, at least currently, pale in comparison to what will be required just a bit down the road for us.

Steve Eggleston on September 13, 2011 at 6:14 PM

They may not believe now but if we don’t radically change things they will soon be believers and the ugliness that will ensue is not something I look forward to.

chemman on September 13, 2011 at 7:50 PM

A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense and “Me thinks” you haven’t done your math. Sum your total contribution to social security then compare it to the amounts you will receive if you live to the ages prescribed by accepted actuarial tables. Your total receipts will far exceed your contributions and you’ll be subsidized by your neighbors until you die . . . and that constitutes a parasitic condition.

rplat on September 13, 2011 at 4:14 PM

Wrong, but cute try.

The net amount put in per person, currently meeting the max requirement is solvent. Raiding said funds, which carries an anemic 1% yield – causes said net loss.

If you less the bottom feeding people – who barely qualify (thats the loss folks you are talking about scooter) by requiring 20 more quarters – to obtain the minimum SS disability/benefits – you return to black on the bottom line.

It really is that simple, but appreciate you and other dopey people who dont get – its not the 72 year old getting their fair share – its the 33 year old “on permanent disability due to back strain”, i.e. fraud – which is inherent to this age group.

And the bad analogy, was – well a bad analogy. You see that “neighbor” you claim also will get paid out at some point too – because the tipping point for SS can be directly associated with the past 20 years of SS laws, so in fact, the 72 year old getting max SS – who paid all of his live – is actually funding the neighbor who is 33 on disability

If you really think you are “paying” for anyone who has worked 20-50 years more than you – you are dim.

Odie1941 on September 13, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Anyone who thinks SS is not a lie is either delusional or immoral. Other alternatives do not exist.

proconstitution on September 13, 2011 at 8:28 PM

And the bad analogy, was – well a bad analogy. You see that “neighbor” you claim also will get paid out at some point too – because the tipping point for SS can be directly associated with the past 20 years of SS laws, so in fact, the 72 year old getting max SS – who paid all of his live – is actually funding the neighbor who is 33 on disability

If you really think you are “paying” for anyone who has worked 20-50 years more than you – you are dim.

Odie1941 on September 13, 2011 at 8:01 PM

There is no lockbox for SS, you pay into a general fund that pays out to EVERYONE from that fund, so “scooter” is correct.

dthorny on September 14, 2011 at 10:25 AM

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