Truth-Telling On the Campaign Trail

One thing about the Republican presidential race: it promises to upgrade the quality of our public discourse. GOP candidates are saying things that need to be said, but usually aren’t; not only that, they are being picked up in the press, if only to be denounced.

Let’s start with Rick Perry. It has been true throughout human history that each generation invests a good share of its wealth in raising the next generation, but America’s current generation of retirees is the first ever to demand its money back. For many, Social Security and Medicare benefits will be enough not only to repay with interest the contributions into those programs, but to go a long way toward reimbursing the total amount spent on food, clothing, shelter and education for their children. Whether this is a good thing depends, I suppose, on where you sit. But there is no denying that entitlements are a disaster for the young.

So it was good to see Perry speaking up on behalf of the younger generation: Perry calls Social Security “monstrous lie.” That should get their attention!

Asked by a woman in the crowd about Social Security being viewed as an entitlement program, Perry reiterated the suggestion in his anti-Washington book, Fed Up!, that the program amounts to a Ponzi scheme.

“It is a Ponzi scheme for these young people. The idea that they’re working and paying into Social Security today, that the current program is going to be there for them, is a lie,” Perry said. “It is a monstrous lie on this generation, and we can’t do that to them.”

Perry also has a nice way of dealing with reporters:

Later, in Des Moines, when a reporter asked about the suggestion that his campaign was backing off some positions in the staunch states-rights book, Perry said, “I haven’t backed off anything in my book. So read the book again and get it right.”

Next, Michele Bachmann. In Florida, she said yesterday that the United States has the world’s largest energy resources, but we are prevented from exploiting them by radical environmentalists:

With untapped oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the nation’s coasts, shale oil in Western states, and rich natural gas and coal deposits, she said the U.S. “is sitting on a mother lode of treasure.”

“The United States is the number one country in the world for energy resources,” the Minnesota congresswoman told a central Florida town hall meeting, arguing that in shale deposits alone the U.S. easily outstrips the total oil supply of Saudi Arabia. “That doesn’t even include … all the oil in Alaska.”

But Bachmann said environmentalists were preventing resources from being exploited, leaving the U.S. dependent on energy imports. …

“The radical environmentalists have demanded that we lock up all our energy resources,” she added. “President Bachmann will take that key out of the door. I will unlock it.”

The crowd at the upscale retirement community cheered wildly.

As well they should. I hope Bachmann keeps up this line of attack. As we have pointed out more than once, she is correct: the United States has more fossil fuel energy resources than any other country (Russia is second and Saudi Arabia third). The Obama administration has perversely gone out of its way to suppress energy development here at home, instead preferring to ship high-paying jobs to Brazil and other countries. It would be a great thing if the presidential primary campaign serves to pound that lesson home.

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