I asked readers whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s stance on Social Security would help or hurt him. A number of readers argued that his fiery rhetoric would help him in the Republican primaries but hurt him in a general election.
Others had a more nuanced view. GregQ wrote: “It will help him, because he’s correct that it’s a Ponzi scheme, and most of us know it. What could hurt him is if he continues to be unable to cogently explain his positions, on many issues. I like most of his positions, I’m less than totally impressed with his ability to defend them at debates.”
Almorganiv wrote, in part: “There is no pressure rising up as a tide to sweep ... [Social Security] away in a popular movement. I think the system is in need of serious reform but that the original mission of the system should not be tampered with.”
These and other readers have hit on a central part: Advocating dismantling federal entitlement programs is not going to sway voters; it will petrify them. The smart Republicans will take up the mantle of reform, portray the president as lacking political courage and advocate measures (e.g., raising the retirement age) that secure Social Security for the future. The time for talking about talking is over; some leadership with concrete proposals in hand is long overdue.