During last week's GOP presidential debate, Rick Perry spent more time defending his "provocative" rhetoric than emphasizing that he wants to save Social Security. But in a USA Today op-ed, Perry changes his tone. He writes that we need a "frank and honest discussion" about the program, but makes zero references to Social Security being a "monstrous lie" or a "Ponzi scheme." Number of references to the need to "fix" Social Security: four.
The first step to fixing a problem is honestly admitting there is a problem. America's goal must be to fix Social Security by making it more financially sound and sustainable for the long term. But Americans deserve a frank and honest discussion of the dire financial challenges facing the nearly 80-year-old program.
As I said at the Reagan Library recently, Social Security benefits for current recipients and those nearing retirement must be protected. For younger workers, we must consider reforms to make Social Security financially viable.
These are the hard facts: Social Security's unfunded liability is calculated in the trillions of dollars. Last year, annual Social Security outlays exceeded annual revenues for the first time since 1983. The Congressional Budget Office projects that outlays will be roughly 5% greater than revenues over the next five years, worsening as more and more Baby Boomers retire.
By 2037, retirees will only get roughly 76 cents back for every dollar that is put into Social Security unless reforms are implemented. Imagine how long a traditional retirement or investment plan could survive if it projected investors would lose 24% of their money?