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In Des Moines the other day, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked by a reporter about the suggestion that his campaign was backing off some positions in his 2010 book, "Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington."
According to an Aug. 28, 2011, report posted by the Houston Chronicle, the Republican presidential candidate replied: "I haven't backed off anything in my book. So read the book again and get it right."
We read the opus when it debuted and recently returned to it to start our fact check of Bloomberg pundit Margaret Carlson’s claim in a column that Perry "has advocated abandoning Social Security, scuttling Medicaid and ending the federal income tax."
Short answer: Perry has spoken to letting states opt out of Social Security and has said he wishes states could opt out of Medicaid. He has written that one option in the realm of tax reform would be to replace the federal income tax with another tax.
In his 2010 book, Perry writes that Social Security is "something we’ve been forced to accept for more than 70 years now" and calls it a "crumbling monument to the failure" of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. He likens the program, which provides benefits to senior citizens and the disabled, to a Ponzi scheme — a claim we rated False in November 2010, noting that Social Security is accountable to Congress and the American people while a Ponzi scheme is a criminal enterprise.
He also highlights the decision by three Southeast Texas counties in the early 1980s to leave Social Security for a private retirement savings program. In December 2010, we rated Mostly True his claim that employees in the counties fared well as a result
In the book, Perry doesn’t call for scuttling Medicaid, a state-federal partnership providing health insurance to low-income Americans, but he writes that the 2010 Democratic-passed health care overhaul "only makes matters worse for the existing broken systems of Medicare, Medicaid and" the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which insures children of the working poor. Perry adds: "The primary problem with Medicaid right now is that there are too many beneficiaries and not enough doctors or funding," a situation he says will worsen under the health care overhaul because more residents will be eligible for Medicaid.
Perry sounded another anti-Medicaid note in a November 2010 interview with Greta Van Susteren of the Fox News Network, telling her: "I'd like to see the states be given the opportunity to opt out of the Medicaid program that we are looking at today." An Austin American-Statesman news story at the time said that in interviews, Perry had referred to a December 2009 Heritage Foundation memo stating Texas could save $60 billion between 2013 and 2019 by dropping out of Medicaid—even though the federal government was picking up 60 percent of the Texas costs.
That memo says: "On a state-by-state basis, every state except North Dakota would come out ahead financially by leaving Medicaid but continuing long-term care (nursing home) spending with state-only dollars."
In a Dec. 3, 2010, press release from his state office, Perry calls for changes to Medicaid. "The current Medicaid system is financially unsustainable for states and the federal government, as costs increase about 9 percent per year in Texas alone," Perry said. "Without greater flexibility and the elimination of federal strings, Medicaid will strangle state budgets and taxpayers as Obamacare and other programs expand Medicaid rolls."
Perry continues: "Texas, the states and the federal government would be much better served by increasing flexibility and innovation in Medicaid, even block granting funds to the states, so we can tailor Medicaid dollars to best serve the needs of Texas patients, families and taxpayers."
In his book, Perry lists changes to taxation among steps "we must take to wrest the reins of the federal government from those who have let it run wild for far too long." Toward restricting "the unlimited source of revenue that the federal government has used to grow beyond its constitutionally prescribed powers," Perry writes: "One option would be to totally scrap the current tax code in favor of a flat tax," simplifying taxation and making it harder to manipulate. Another option, he continues, "would be to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment," which enabled the income tax, and then pursue an alternative model of taxation such as a national sales tax.
We rate Carlson’s statement Half True.
See PolitiFact Texas articles.