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September 21, 2011 10:45 PM UTC

Rep. Paul Ryan joins Coffman in calling Social Security a "Ponzi Scheme"

  • by: Jason Salzman

(Doubling down on the crazy? – promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a Post titled, “It’s Alive! Despite GOP Warnings, Ponzi Scheme Meme Is Alive and Well on Capitol Hill,” Talking Points Memo’s Evan McMorris-Santoro reports today that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WIS) has joined Rep. Mike Coffman in saying, on the radio, that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.

He points out that “GOP superstar” Mitch Daniels told the New York Times that the phrase is not wrong but “too frank.”

McMorris-Santoro links to a Huffington Post piece by Jordan Howard quoting Ryan on the Laura Ingraham show today:

When asked by host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday whether the country’s social insurance program is a Ponzi scheme, Ryan replied, “That is how those schemes work.”

“So if you take a look at the technicality of Ponzi — I would — it’s not a criminal enterprise,” he said, according to a transcript. “But it is a pay-as-you-go system where … earlier investors or, say, taxpayers, get a positive rate of return and the most recent investors — or taxpayers — get a negative rate of return.”

Coffman didn’t explain last week on KNUS why he thinks Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, because KNUS host Steve Kelley failed to ask him about it.

A call to Coffman’s office yesterday for comment was not returned.


15 thoughts on “Rep. Paul Ryan joins Coffman in calling Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme”

  1. Pretty soon there won’t be any way to go after Perry. Too many fellow Republicans standing up for him against the smear campaign! Even some who may not completely agree and are sick of Democrat character assassination. Contrast that against the liberal insurgency against Obama…

    1. you guys need some dictionaries.

      Ponzi schemes are phony investment schemes.  Social security was never defined as an investment plan and the fact that today’s retirees’ benefits are supported by what todays workers pay in is not a dirty secret.  Anyone who cares to look it up  can know exactly how it works. So…

      Not presented as an investment plan.

      Not operated as a deceptive scheme.

      Ergo, if you understand what words mean, it can’t be a Ponzi Scheme.

      When people say things that are completely inaccurate, it’s not a smear to call them on it.

      When you’re done looking up “Ponzi Scheme” and “Social Security”, look up “smear”.

    2. But how is criticizing Perry’s position on Social Security even comparable to “character assassination”?

      If I said Perry fucked a donkey in Tijuana for eight pesos during a spring break one year, that would be character assassination. If I criticize his positions, that’s, um, how we do things in politics.

      1. in the long form document style stating otherwise, I’m going to have to assume that what you said regarding Perry and the donkey (and only 8 pesos? what a deal–talk about a guy that knows how to get a bargain) is completely true.

        I’ll probably spend a million dollars or so of my own money to investigate this story, which is almost certainly true. I wonder if he’s also a secret Muslim. I’ll look into that, too–more bang for my buck.  

        1. on March 29, 1971, eight pesos bought a lot of crack cocaine and nuclear missiles to aim at Louisiana.

          It can’t be totally made up if I have an EXACT DATE, can it?



    Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. He is the author of several books, including Plunder & Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy, The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer and The United States Since 1980. He was the editor of Getting Prices Right: The Debate Over the Consumer Price Index, which was a winner of a Choice Book Award as one of the outstanding academic books of the year. He appears frequently on TV and radio programs, including CNN, CBS News, PBS NewsHour, and National Public Radio. His blog, Beat the Press, features commentary on economic reporting. He received his B.A. from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan.

    In other words, he knows what he’s talking about.

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