TAMPA, June 21 2012 — Ron Paul appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe yesterday, giving one of his most succinct criticisms of the Republican Party to date. Host Joe Scarborough had recently endorsed Paul and explained why he had voted for him in his Republican presidential primary.
For most of the segment, the hosts concentrated on Paul’s ideas, policy positions and vision for the future of the party. However, near the end of the segment, Sam Stein decided to ambush Paul on Social Security. After Paul explained his position on letting young people opt out of the program, Stein asked Paul if he collected Social Security payments himself. When Paul replied in the affirmative, Stein implied that Paul was being hypocritical by collecting Social Security payments while asking young people to opt out.
Ron Paul’s plan to phase out Social Security does not ask people who have paid into the program to forego the benefits. Those he wants to give the opportunity to opt out would also not be taxed to support Social Security. Perhaps somewhat surprised by the line of inquiry, Paul did not give the best answer he’s ever given to this question. However, he explained it in detail in my own interview with him last year.
Under Paul’s plan, those who have paid into the program would continue to receive the benefits they were promised. The funds not collected from young people who opt out would be raised from savings realized by Paul’s cuts to overseas military spending and elimination of federal departments.
So, Paul is not asking young people to do something that he is not willing to do himself. As he pointed out on Morning Joe, he’s still paying into Social Security right now.
From a strict libertarian perspective, there is a strong argument to be made that even those who have paid into the program have no “right” to collect Social Security payments. After all, the people who would have to pay to support me when I reach retirement age are innocent victims. They did not receive the money that I paid in. That money was spent on the generation before me (and looted for other government boondoggles as well).
In other words, I don’t have a right to steal a young person’s car just because some anonymous older person stole mine in the past. Stripped of “social contract” baloney, there’s really no difference between that and Social Security.
The “trust fund” argument holds no water either. Since the early years of the program, the lawful process for building this “trust fund” has been to replace surpluses with the government’s own bonds. There is only one way to redeem those supposed investments – to tax people in the future, not only for the principal but for interest owed on the loan.
This also raises an interesting question. If a 34-year-old makes a Social Security payment and the government puts any surplus from that payment into a 30-year treasury note, where would the government get the money to redeem the bond when that same person is 64 and ready to collect?
From him, of course. These are the kind of absurdities that occur when theft is legalized.
Ron Paul’s plan does not hold anyone to these strict libertarian standards. That’s probably because voters, no matter how conservative they say they are, aren’t really ready to cut one dollar from the federal budget. If they were, they would have nominated Paul for president instead of Mitt Romney, who will send Congress a $4 trillion federal budget if elected.
The media don’t have to agree with Ron Paul’s positions on the issues, but misrepresenting them this way is cheap pandering to the basest emotions of their audience. Paul may be a lot of things, but one thing he is not is a hypocrite. MSNBC and Morning Joe should admit that they did their audience a disservice by suggesting that he is.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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