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The rift between Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry seems to widen. The Romney campaign stated on Wednesday that they have considered Perry’s idea about allowing states to run social security. “We reject turning the program over to the states,” Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told The Huffington Post in an email.
The Romney campaign issued six detailed questions for the Perry campaign about how a state level social security program would run. Gail Gitcho, communications director for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said Perry wants to “dismantle” Social Security.
“He has refused to answer questions on what the Social Security program would look like at the state level,” Gitcho said in the campaign’s release. “Governor Perry has the opportunity to clarify his proposal while he is in Florida — a state with an extraordinarily high number of retirees and near retirees.” The six questions take Perry’s idea seriously, raising logistical issues about the change.
Some of the questions include, “Would individuals retain national Social Security numbers or would each state administer its own system?” or “What would happen to the Trust Fund that accrued while the [federal] system was in surplus? … How would those funds be equitably allocated to the states?”
A Perry campaign spokesman has not yet responded to a request for comment Wednesday. Although Romney also does not have any specific plan for social security, he has offered more details than Perry. In his 2010 book, “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness,” Romney said he would consider raising the retirement age at which Americans become eligible for Social Security, with exceptions for those physically unable to work.
He also said he would be willing to reduce benefits for “high-income individuals” by using the consumer price index rather than the wage index to determine payouts, and to give younger workers the option to “direct a portion of their Social Security tax to a private account.”
Perry has called social security a “Ponzi scheme” and a “monstrous lie.” These bold statements have won him some fans with members of the conservative grassroots. But, these statements have also opened him up for criticism nationally.
Romney’s campaign has tried to go after the substance of Perry’s past comments about moving the program to the state level and the questions about Social Security’s constitutionality that Perry raised in his 2010 book, “Fed Up.” The two will meet again in a scheduled GOP debate on Thursday in Florida.
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