Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain (R).
Rick Perry garnered a lot of attention -- and criticism from Mitt Romney -- for calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.”
But Herman Cain -- whose 9-9-9 plan proposes eliminating the payroll tax, which funds Social Security -- has gone so far as to call Social Security and the tax code “immoral” and “oppressive,” that they impose “involuntary servitude” and that the “system by its very nature discriminates against black men and women,” a review of Cain’s past writings reveals.
Social security remains popular. In a February NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, only 22% said it would be acceptable to cut it as a way to reduce the federal budget deficit, while 77% said it would not be acceptable. In the most recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, 64% disagreed with the comparison of the retirement program to a Ponzi Scheme.
Under a 2005 column titled, “Separate Water Fountains,” Cain wrote, “It is now evident that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not apply to the Social Security system. Due to the rising retirement age, differences in life expectancy between Blacks and Whites, and mandatory payroll tax deductions, the system by its very nature discriminates against black men and women.”
He went on to call it “built-in discrimination,” before adding, “Under the current Social Security structure, deceased black men essentially fund a large percentage of the retirement income of elderly white women, since they live the longest to nearly 80 years on average.”
He added: “The answer is that congressional Democrats do not want all Americans to drink from the same retirement fountains. They insinuate that we are not smart enough to ride in the front of the retirement bus with them. … At least with separate water fountains blacks and whites each had water to drink.”
Cain -- who during his presidential campaign said, "African-Americans have been brainwashed” into voting for Democrats -- also took shots in his past writing at the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, and “many of our so-called black leaders,” including then-Sen. Barack Obama.
“[B]lack Democratic leaders are willing to see the next generation of Blacks remain in economic slavery on the Democratic plantation, so long as they can deny any Republican a perceived political victory,” Cain wrote.
Cain claimed in another column that Social Security would be insolvent by 2018. And he not only endorsed former President Bush’s effort to push for personal retirement accounts, but waged a campaign in favor of the idea in a series of columns.
“President Bush's vision of an ownership society is the same as that of our Founding Fathers, our grandparents and our parents,” Cain wrote. “The centerpiece of Bush's vision is to restructure the soon-insolvent Social Security structure and instill a greater degree of fairness for all citizens in the outdated income tax code.”
Many viewed that as privatization. But not Cain.
“The second dirty little secret is that personal retirement accounts do not really constitute privatization,” he wrote. “Privatization means someone else owns your account. Bush's Social Security plan provides younger workers their own accounts that they control, not the government.”
And he claimed: “Bush's plan will not turn the public into a bunch of moonlighting day-traders, lining up to be fleeced by Wall Street insiders.” But rather: “The president's plan allows the poorest among us to join the investing class and reap the benefits of the market and compound interest.”
And he touted the strength of the stock market: “Personal retirement accounts as proposed by the president are the first step to fixing the solvency crisis and allowing more people access to economic freedom. The market has never once lost money in any 20-year period.”
In a separate column, he wrote, “In just 13 years the system will be insolvent. President Bush and some congressional Republicans are addressing the certain bankruptcy but congressional Democrats and liberal special interest groups are fighting them every step of the way.”
He went on to say in another column that Social Security and the tax code “thwart the natural, individual motivation of citizens to use their God-given talents to pursue happiness and their respective dreams,” Cain wrote.
He continued, “Any program that undermines an individual's liberty to create ownership is, then, by its very nature, immoral.”
And: “It should not take us another 250 years to cease the involuntary negative return most working people receive from Social Security, or the involuntary servitude imposed by the oppressive income tax code.”
He also said that if Social Security and the tax code aren’t restructured, Congress and the president “will have no choice but to cut benefits and raise taxes again.”
He blamed Democrats for attacking “the President's vision daily. They believe it is right for citizens to continue to receive a negative return on their lifelong contributions to the Social Security system, and in many instances no return at all. The return on contributions is even worse for black people, because of the difference in their average life expectancy.”
Cain also said Democrats are not interested in long-term solvency of Social Security, but rather their “hidden goal is increased control of your life, which is achieved by controlling an ever-growing share of your money.”
And the roots of his support for the Chilean system appear in his columns as well: “The small country of Chile switched to an optional system of personal retirement accounts in 1980 and workers are retiring at 80% of their pre-retirement income. Social Security recipients in the U.S. on average receive about 40% of their pre-retirement income, and they do not own their contributions or benefits after their death. In Galveston County and Chile, your money is yours to keep or pass on to heirs.” And: “We should be embarrassed that the small country of Chile established a system of personal retirement accounts in 1980 that has provided real retirement security for its citizens.”
He said: “Personal account plans have worked in Galveston County, Texas, and the country of Chile for well over 20 years, and have provided their beneficiaries rates of return hundreds of times higher than Social Security over the same period.”
Perhaps signaling why Cain has been popular among Tea Party activists, he also wrote the following, which sounds very much like the modern Tea Party movement: “When we elected a Republican president and a Republican majority in Congress, we thought the runaway spending spree of our money would stop. The excess spending did not stop, and it's not all associated with the war in Iraq. Mandatory entitlement spending alone currently accounts for over half of the federal budget. By the year 2015, mandatory entitlement spending will account for over 60 percent of budget outlays. The persistent overspending has caused the United States to become a net debtor nation instead of the strong net lending nation we once were.”
Cain, who once supported Steve Forbes – and his flat tax - for president also advocated this solution: “Congress, replace the income tax code with a national sales tax modeled on the FairTax. Congress, pass legislation that includes optional personal retirement accounts for workers younger than 45 years of age using 4 percentage points of their payroll taxes. Congress, let's enact a balanced budget amendment, since you have demonstrated that you cannot control your spending addiction.”
And: “As an economic superpower we should be embarrassed that nations once part of the communist Soviet Union, such as Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia recently replaced their outdated tax systems with a single-bracket flat tax system. These formerly backward nations are all experiencing booming economies as a result.”