'Cornered' by television host, Perry dodges question about presidential ambitions...
Appearing on television Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry, a potential contender for the Republican nomination in 2012, said that he wants states to be able to opt-out of Social Security.
On CNN's Parker/Spitzer, hosted by Democrat and former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and political columnist Kathleen Parker, Perry compared Social Security to a ponzi scheme and said that Americans want Washington to stop spending so much money.
"Here's what I think would be a very wise thing," he began. "In 1981, Matagorda, Brazoria, and Galveston Counties all opted out of the Social Security program for their employees. Today, their program is very, very well-funded and there is no question about whether it’s going to be funded in the out years. It’s there. That’s an option out there."
"So, you want to let people opt out?" responded Spitzer.
"I think, let the states decide if that’s what's best for their cities," Perry replied.
"So the states will let people opt out of Social Security?" Spitzer asked
"They should," the recently reelected Texas governor said.
In his forthcoming book, Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington, Perry is highly critical of federal government policies. Though not on sale until November 15th, excerpts were recently leaked to reporters.
In the book, Perry criticizes government programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance, but seems to exempt America's largest expenditures on defense, national security and foreign military aid.
Instead, the Perry attacks social welfare programs as "fraudulent systems designed to take in a lot of money at the front and pay out none in the end."
"This unsustainable fiscal insanity is the true legacy of Social Security and the New Deal," he wrote.
The book is also critical of the the 17th Amendment, which established the election of senators by popular vote instead of by state legislatures.
Though posturing himself as a small-government conservative, Perry was behind a scheme to implement a "market-based approach" to the state's highway congestion by dividing Texas into corridors split by massive toll roads financed by foreign investors. Land would have been seized by eminent domain and tolls would have been collected for 50+ years. While the so-called "Trans-Texas Corridor" has been effectively scrapped, critics of the plan say it is still largely in play but renamed and broken into dozens of smaller projects.
Perry was also criticized by republicans for ordering every school-age girl in the state to receive an injection of the Guardasil vaccine, mean to protect against cervical cancer. His executive order, which the GOP-dominated legislature blocked, came after drug maker Merck doubled lobbying efforts in the state.
At the time of Perry's reelection, Texas was running an estimated budget deficit of up to $17 billion, according to the state comptroller's office.
Asked directly if he plans on seeking the presidency, Perry did not offer a concrete answer.
A national survey conducted by the GfK Roper consulting firm found that 90 percent of those ages 18 to 29 considered Social Security "important" and nearly 80 percent of those over 65 considered it "one of the very most important government programs."
In addition, 80 percent of respondents said contributing to Social Security benefited "the common good."
RAW STORY editor Stephen C. Webster contributed to this report.