Perry: "There’s not going to be a Social Security and Medicare program"

Jed Lewison has video of what I think is probably Texas Governor Rick Perry's most glaring political weakness:

From Lewison's transcript:

And listen, how many people in here are less than 50 years old in this audience? All right, I got in trouble by asking that question right off the bat, there, but these young kids who are coming along, they know for a fact there’s not going to be a Social Security and Medicare program. They know that.

So we have to have an adult conversation with this country. We have to talk about how are we going to transfer over. How are we going to make the transformation.

In case anyone thinks this is being misinterpreted, Perry wrote in his book that Social Security was an "illegal ponzi scheme," a view he's now walking away from.

Republicans have made substantial headway in delegitimizing social insurance by talking about government spending in the abstract and making it sound like only the lazy or immoral receive public assistance. But asked specifically about entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, even a majority of Republicans (57 percent in CNN's latest poll this month) disapprove of making changes to either program to reduce the deficit. Perry's rhetoric about the programs needing to be eliminated plays well with hardcore conservatives, but won't be popular with Americans broadly. Sorry Marco Rubio, most Americans are not pining for a society in which the elderly have to beg the church of family members for money to pay for cancer treatments while those fortunate enough to be born wealthy live relatively unaltered lives. 

That said, the CBO is now estimating that unemployment will still be at 8.5 percent at the end of 2012, which suggests Republicans won't need much more than a warm body to beat Barack Obama. How much Perry, should he win the nomination, suffers from views like this will depend substantially on how willing the media at large is to give Perry a pass on disavowing views he's held publicly and recently.

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