Dean Scontras: "Social Security Demonstrates Everything That Is Wrong About Our System Of Governance"

October 22, 2010 11:17 am ET — Jamison Foser

Dean Scontras

Maine Republican congressional candidate Dean Scontras' campaign website doesn't have much to say about Social Security — the program isn't even mentioned on his "issues" page. In fact, there's only one passing mention of Social Security on the entire site.

But that doesn't mean Scontras hasn't thought about Social Security. When he ran for Congress two years ago, Scontras made his contempt for the program clear. Not that it's easy to find those statements: Scontras' 2008 campaign website (TeamDean08.com) and the website of the political organization he formed after his loss (RepublicanProject.org) have all but disappeared from the Internet.

Yes, "all but disappeared." A few traces remain, courtesy of The Internet Archive. One such trace is Scontras' 2008 screed against Social Security, which began with a quote from Newt Gingrich saying "Social Security reform should be the litmus test for your congressional vote." Scontras then declared:

Social Security demonstrates everything that is wrong about our system of governance.

Wow. Not a lot of ambiguity there.

Scontras then launched into the standard bogus scare stories about Social Security going bankrupt before arguing for privatization of the system. Actually, that isn't fair to Scontras; his scare stories about Social Security weren't standard — they were extraordinary. Like this wildly inaccurate claim:

If we continue the current system, we will have to raise payroll taxes by 50% next year, and every year after that, just to keep pace.

Just how inaccurate was Scontras' claim that payroll taxes must be increased by 50 percent every year just to "keep pace"? According to the Congressional Budget Office (pdf), increasing the payroll tax by just two percentage points over twenty years would be sufficient to bring the program into balance for the next 75 years. Not 50 percent every year, as Scontras claimed — two percentage points over twenty years. 

CBO also found that, instead of increasing the payroll tax, the same result could be achieved by simply eliminating the cap on income subject to it. Currently, annual income above roughly $105,000 is not taxed for Social Security purposes, meaning that the wealthy pay into Social Security at a much lower rate than the middle class.

Instead of such simple fixes to a relatively small problem, Scontras wants to cut Social Security benefits, raise the retirement age and means test benefits, telling seniors: "If you've got the wherewithal to sort of vie for yourself in your retirement years, you should do so."

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