The "real question," former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said in Monday night's debate among republican presidential candidates, is: "Does Governor Perry continue to believe that Social Security should not be a federal program, that it's unconstitutional and it should be returned to the states? Or is he going to retreat from that view?"
In his cautious comments in the debate and in an op ed piece he wrote for USA Today Texas Governor Rick Perry certainly appeared to be retreating from his previous statements about Social Security, in which he called the program a "Ponzi scheme" and a failure "by any measure." (Maybe Perry remembers the smears directed against Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater in 1964. As John Aloysius Farrell, wrote in the Boston Globe Magazine in 1998: "When Goldwater told an audience in New Hampshire in 1964 that he preferred a voluntary Social Security system, Democrats launched a TV attack ad, showing two hands tearing up a Social Security card. It was a factor in Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory that year.") But if he is, in fact, retreating from the position that such an ambitious program is an unconstitutional expansion of the powers of Congress and the executive branch, he would hardly be the first execute an about face on the subject.
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt (photo)