Stanley Kurtz provides a history of the comparison of Social Security to a Ponzi scheme.
Writing in USA Today, Gov. Rick Perry says he intends to be "honest" with the American people:
Americans must come together and agree to address the problems so today's beneficiaries and tomorrow's retirees really can count on Social Security for the long haul.
We must have a frank, honest national conversation about fixing Social Security to protect benefits for those at or near retirement while keeping faith with younger generations, who are being asked to pay.
Team Romney would rather demagogue the issue with a flyer asking "How can we trust anyone who wants to kill Social Security?".
Hmm. That is a bit of an Eleventh Commandment violation. The normal justification for wild, exaggerated attacks is that the candidate can expect worse in the general election. I agree that Obama will probably have hi sback to the wall and be willing to say anything, but...
Apparently back in 2007 Obama was carving out new territory for himself (and rousing Paul Krugman's ire) by calling for long term solutions to the Social Security crisis. He might have a bit of a problem executing the full flip-flop come 2012.
And as an amusing aside, Chris Matthews recently got some attention by echoing Perry's Ponzi plaint. However, let's give Mr. Matthews props for intelluctual consistency - back when he was thrilling to Obama, Obama's comments on the need to fix Social Security prompted this Hardball exchange with the late Tim Russert (by way of Krugman):
Mr. Russert: “Everyone knows Social Security, as it’s constructed, is not going to be in the same place it’s going to be for the next generation, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives.”
Mr. Matthews: “It’s a bad Ponzi scheme, at this point.”
Mr. Russert: “Yes.”
It was a Ponzi scheme for Matthews when Obama wanted to fix it, and I guess it still is.
And going further back in time, Bill Clinton and Al Gore discovered that Social Security was in crisis in the late 90's when the alternative was Republican tax cuts. "Save Social Security First" and "Keep it in a lockbox" are the catchphrases of that era.