Wednesday, September 7, 2011

GOP Debate: Presidential Candidates Face Off In California Ahead Of 2012 (LIVE UPDATES)

First Posted: 9/7/11 07:08 PM ET Updated: 9/7/11 08:25 PM ET

Eight Republican candidates are facing off in California's first presidential debate of the election season on Wednesday night.

The forum, hosted by NBC News and Politico, marks the first for Rick Perry since the Texas governor announced his candidacy for president of the United States. The following GOP contenders will also participate in the primary event: U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Below, a live blog of the latest developments to unfold in the Golden State.

Today 10:13 PM Fact Checking Perry On Social Security

Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme. It is a retirement insurance program, and an extremely well capitalized one. Dean Baker, an economist with the liberal-leaning Center for Economic Policy and Research, told HuffPost in an email:

Governor Perry once again characterized Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and said that there won't be benefits for 25 and 30 year olds.

With all due respect to the Governor, this is not true. The recommendations of the National Commission on Social Security Reform in 1983 led to the growth of a large surplus in Social Security. This surplus was used to buy bonds and now Social Security holds more than $2.6 trillion in government bonds. As a result, the Congressional Budget Office’s projections show that the program will maintain full solvency through the year 2038.

Even if Congress never makes any changes to the program, Social Security will be able to pay slightly more than 80 percent of scheduled benefits from then on. This means, for example, that if your children -- both in their mid twenties -- were to retire at age 67 and do as well as you have in their working careers, they would receive $38,145 and $39,410 (in 2011 dollars) each, every year, for the rest of their lives. It is clearly inaccurate to say that this program will not exist for young people.

Roger Hickey of the Campaign for America's Future, meanwhile, points out the political peril that Perry's Social Security opposition puts him in, and hopes to turn it against all of the candidates.

Gov. Perry’s remarks about Social Security show that as President, he would destroy the only retirement system that millions of Americans now depend upon -- and will in the future. But failure of the rest of the candidates to object to his remarks -- and their enthusiasm about cutting and dismantling the program -- mean that Social Security will be demolished if any of these Republican candidates were to win the presidency.

All the polls show the vast majority of Americans want to see Social Security strengthened -- not torn, dismantled or cut. So this lemming-like agreement among the candidates is enough to defeat Republicans in 2012 -- unless President Obama embraces the idea of cutting Social Security benefits.

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