Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is embracing the concept of “means testing” for Social Security benefits.
“I think if you test for the income levels and, you know, obviously if you’re Warren Buffett, I’m not sure you really need to be accessing Social Security,” Perry said during a taped interview organized by AARP.
Perry would also exclude the super rich from Medicare, the government health care program for the elderly. “Folks who have been blessed to live great and good and wonderful lives in America, they shouldn’t be saying, ‘You know, I’m going to take all of my…Medicare payments that are coming here. I’ve been blessed. I don’t need that,'” Perry said. “And so I think having a stair-step in that sense of means testing makes some sense as well.”
All Americans, regardless of income, qualify for Medicare and Social Security once they pass a certain age and critics of means testing say it would complicate the system further to require beneficiaries to provide financial statements to determine who is too wealthy to receive the benefits. Others say means testing won’t make the Social Security system solvent, because it wouldn’t reduce the overall pay out by much.
Perry made his comments November 4 during a recorded 20-minute interview organized by AARP. Radio Iowa obtained a copy of the interview this afternoon. He used part of the time to address detractors who’ve seized upon his comments about Social Security. Perry, in his book, suggested it was unconstitutional and he has also called it a Ponzi Scheme.
“I mean there’s a lot of scare tactics out there. There are people that are, you know, running ads and what have you that, you know, ‘This person’s going to take away your Social Security or they’ve called it a Ponzi Scheme or a criminal activity,'” Perry said. “Well, if you’re on Social Security, if you are approaching the age, it will be there for you, but we know it’s broken for those younger workers out there.”
Raising the retirement age and allowing younger workers to invest half of their Social Security taxes in a private retirement account are both options Perry would consider as president.
Perry’s 20-minute segment, along with interviews of candidates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, will be broadcast statewide on Mediacom’s Channel 22 on Sunday night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The program also will be available on Mediacom’s “on demand” channel. AARP invited six presidential candidates who have had over five percent support in recent polls to participate in its “Video Voters Guide” project. Mitt Romney and Herman Cain both turned down AARP’s invitation.