Mitt Romney Gets Specific on Social Security Plans

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GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave specifics this morning on how to shore up Social Security, a government program that continues to emerge as the No. 1 issue between him and his chief rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Speaking at a hotel near the Miami airport where two screens displayed the Romney campaign’s “Six Questions to Ask Rick Perry about Social Security” fact sheet, Romney told the crowd, “There are one of two ways you can make Social Security work forever.

“One of course is to raise the retirement age by a year or two,” said Romney. “The other is having slower growth in inflating the benefits of higher-income of Social Security recipients. Again, not current recipients but those in their 20's, 30's, 40's and early 50's.

“Those combined, represent the best course for us to be able to permanently solve our Social Security shortfall,” said Romney.

GOP frontrunner Perry’s campaign immediately attacked Romney’s remarks.

“Mitt Romney’s own book compared Social Security to a criminal enterprise,” the Perry campaign said in a statement.  ”Now Mr. Romney is again sounding like a Democrat, distorting the truth and trying to scare senior citizens.  As he has so many times in the past, Mr. Romney seems to forget he’s a Republican.

“Mr. Romney has been running for president full time for nearly five years, and has failed to issue a specific plan on Social Security,” the Perry statement continued. “Rick Perry and other conservatives are courageous enough to be honest about federal spending and entitlements, whether Mr. Romney and the liberals like it or not.”

Did Romney actually compare Social Security to a criminal enterprise in his book? Not quite.

In his book “No Apology” Romney provides an example of what might happen if an average citizen were to do what he says the government is doing with Social Security – effectively “defrauding” the American public by spending the surplus raised by Social Security taxes on the budget and not what they should be spending it on: retirement security.

The example given by Romney in his book is this: Two grandparents go to their bank and create a trust fund to provide for their grandchildren’s education. As the kids grow up, the bank is spending the money from the trust fund on something else. When the kids are ready to go college, there is no money in the trust fund.

“What would happen to the bankers responsible for misusing the money?” Romney writes. “They would go to jail.”

“But what has happened to the people responsible for the looming bankruptcy of Social Security?” he writes. “They keep returning to Congress every two years.”