Tea Party GOP Debate: More Lame Attacks on Social Security

Monday night’s  GOP Presidential Debate hosted by CNN and the Tea Party express following a similar theme to last weeks debate was an indictment of the record of the newest entrant (and front-runner) in the Republican presidential primary: Gov. Rick Perry. This time though, criticisms were leveled more harshly centering mostly around the Texas governor’s harsh criticism of Social Security and am Executive Order in the Lone Star state that required young girls to be vaccinated for HPV. Not only did Mitt Romney continue his assault on Perry, but Rep. Michele Bachmann, coming off of a lackluster performance at the previous debate, took aim at Perry as well.

As a perceived leader in the Tea Party movement, Bachmann had to perform during last nights debate especially because she was little more than an ornament at the previous debate at the Reagan Presidential Library. Bachmann, in her Tea Party element, came out swinging focusing a great deal of her energy towards Perry who some argue is the reason Bachmann has lost so much momentum in the polls.

Even with the focused assault on Perry’s record though and the more memorable performance by Bachmann, the debate still lacked a “gotcha” moment that would change the game or even move the polls significantly. Perry came out of the debate more bruised than round one but hardly enough to deter a Republican electorate looking for a candidate with a record on job creation that has a chance of defeating President Obama. What the debate did probably better than anything else was to give the Obama campaign some fodder for the general election and talking points for the campaign trail.

That is not to say however Perry doesn’t have anything to worry about. The Social Security criticisms levied against him should not hurt him too much in a Republican primary, especially amongst Tea Party and hard right voters who might support drastic, if not, radical changes to the public retirement system. What he will however have to answer for–carefully–is the HPV vaccination order.

On face, the HPV vaccination order is disturbing because it involves the rights of one’s own body, but what Bachmann very astutely alluded to in her indictment was the way in which the Executive Order came about. Of course the implication is whether or not Perry’s administration went along with the vaccination because he was lobbying to do so, a charge that could be more damming especially when voters are increasingly skeptical about the power of special interests in Washington.

Most frustratingly though, last night’s debate  illustrated a willingness by some of the Republican candidates, including Romney and Bachmann, to use the same scare tactics about Social Security that the left often uses to attack conservative candidates, showing a lack of seriousness from both the former Massachusetts governor and the congresswoman when it comes to fundamentally altering the trajectory of entitlement spending if elected to the White House. It would be a travesty if the next elected president, especially if he or she is a Republican, did not honestly, thoroughly and decisively alter the Social Security system in the United States. It is dishonest to pretend minor tweaks will fix the failed system and to suggest, simply for political gain, that Perry is unfit to hold office because he has been blunt about the entitlement.

If a Republican will not get tough on entitlement spending, particularly social security, is it even worth sending he or she to the Oval Office? Probably not.

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