Perry Stance On Social Security Resonates Across Generations
Governor Rick Perry told young voters he’s “on their side” when it comes to Social Security during the Tea Party/GOP debate in Florida last week.
“It has been called a Ponzi scheme by many people long before me,” said Perry. “But no one’s had the courage to stand up and say here is how we’re going to reform it. We’re going to transform it for those in those mid-career ages.”
Perry’s message appears to be resonating with some young Republicans. Jordan Wilson, a student at Liberty University in Virginia, joined about 10,000 other students in the school gym to hear Perry speak on the subject.
“Well, I think that’s something that college students are really concerned about,” said Wilson. “Kind of looking at it in our perspective, right now we’re paying into the system. And the question is: is it going to be there 30-40 years down the road when we retire?”
Campaigners both liberal and conservative covet the elusive youth vote. It is a tough demographic to motivate and rarely affects the outcome of a national election.
“That is not true with the millennial generation. They vote,” said Margaret Hoover, who has been researching people under the age of 30 for her new book, “American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party.”
“They were 18 percent of the electorate in the 2008. If they vote in the same numbers, 65 million of them will be eligible to vote in the 2012, which will make them 24 percent of the electorate,” said Hoover.
Perry’s message on Social Security might be a platform that young people can get behind, and it’s not just younger people that like the governor’s tough talk. He’s also getting support from more middle-aged voters like Florida Tea Party member Billie Tucker.
“Well, his statement was: it’s a Ponzi scheme. He didn’t say ‘I’m getting rid of it.’ Our statement is: it was a Ponzi scheme. For crying out loud, those are the facts,” said Tucker.
But even for a Tea Party leader, there could be a deal breaker.
“If you immediately affect the people that are on it and they don’t have a way to take care of themselves. That’s it, number one,” said Tucker.
By the time Perry got to Iowa last week, older Republicans were openly expressing their concern about his stance on Social Security. Dorothy Adamson turned out in Jefferson, Iowa to hear more.
“Well, someone I told tonight I was coming and she said, ‘well, I won’t vote for him that he’s against Social Security,’” said Adamson.
The city of Jefferson received no answers that night, as Governor Perry made no mention of Social Security. Conservative Margaret Hoover said it’s not just the older generation that wants more specifics. The generation of Millennials would rather see a government program fixed than eliminated, she said.
“The Millennial generation doesn’t think government is the problem. They think government should be part of the solution. And if you’re running the government and it’s not working, then you’re the problem,” said Hoover.
Beyond calling for a “national conversation,” candidate Perry has not laid out a plan for Social Security. He may give more details during Thursday night’s debate, as his Republican opponents will certainly focus on what they consider to be a weakness.