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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Todd Wilcox calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme'

Todd Wilcox

David W. Doonan, Tampa Bay Times

Todd Wilcox

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, Republican Senate candidate Todd Wilcox, told a conservative activist group last month.

In an April forum put on by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Central East Florida, Wilcox said there need to be changes made to Social Security, such as upping the retirement age for future generations of recipients and adding means testing. It was caught on video by a YouTube user named Amir Patel, likely a “tracker” sent out by a rival campaign to collect video of candidates’ every move.

“Social Security is a tax and an insurance program. It’s not a 401(k) program,” Wilcox said. “It’s a Ponzi scheme at this point, so if we don’t change the way we’re doing things, it’s going to go bankrupt.”

Wilcox, a defense contractor who lives in Orlando, isn’t the first Florida Republican to claim that a government entitlement program is a Ponzi scheme. In 2014, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, was caught on video telling college Republicans that Social Security and Medicare are both Ponzi schemes.

It became the centerpiece of an attack ad by Curbelo’s Democratic opponent, Joe Garcia, who lost the election.

That year, PolitiFact Florida rated Curbelo’s claim False. PolitiFact also rated a similar claim in 2009 by former Texas Gov. and two-time presidential candidate Rick Perry False.

In a Ponzi scheme, someone promises big returns on people’s investments, but they all come from future investors’ money — not from legitimate profits. Social Security, meanwhile, is more of a “pay-as-you-go” system giving current workers’ money to current retirees, PolitiFact wrote.

Wilcox, however, said in an interview with the Times/Herald that the comparison is fair because of the flow of money. If the program is not changed, he said, current workers — especially younger ones — may not receive the benefits.

He’s advocated for changes to the program that would affect younger workers.

“We can’t change the rules on seniors who are in the program now and are depending on it,” Wilcox said. “Those who are in their 40s now, and especially those who are younger, should not plan on it being what it is now.”

At the Republican Liberty Caucus event last month, Wilcox’s words resonated: He won a straw poll that night with 128 of 204 votes.

Wilcox is one of five Republicans running to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. The other candidates are U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and developer Carlos Beruff.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 4:11pm]


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