Taking a page from Rick Perry, Miami congressional candidate Carlos Curbelo called Medicare and Social Security "a Ponzi scheme" that needs extensive reforms in order to remain sustainable.
Curbelo, who was in D.C. fundraising, made the comment in a talk to George Washington University College Republicans on Thursday. A Democratic "tracker" filmed Curbelo's university remarks -- unbeknown to him, Curbelo said Friday.
"I speak about both of these programs as one because they both suffer from the same long-term insolvency, meaning that they won't be around for us, meaning that we're paying into a system that, you know, is a Ponzi scheme," he told the college students. "Rick Perry said that. That's one of the few things I think Rick Perry contributed when he ran for president last time -- and I worked for him, so I can say that."
Perry, the Texas governor, characterized Social Security as a Ponzi scheme in his 2010 book leading up to his 2012 presidential run, and then repeated it in interviews and debates. He wasn't the first one to use the term. Several times, PolitiFact has rated the claim False.
On Friday, Curbelo maintained his point that Medicare and Social Security need changing. His website lists entitlement reform as a priority, though without going into much detail.
"Young people are paying into a system that won't be there for them," Curbelo said. "Any reasonable person understands that people are living longer."
The Miami-Dade school board member is challenging Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia in Florida's 26th congressional district.
Curbelo told the GWU College Republicans that he favors indexing Medicare and Social Security to life expectancy, so people receive it later in life; means-testing or a sliding scale so seniors with less wealth would receive more benefits; and linking annual benefit adjustments to "chained CPI," an inflation measure that would trim some entitlement costs. Democratic President Barack Obama supported that idea before backing away from it earlier this year.
Garcia has already attacked Curbelo on Medicare, claiming the Republican favors "ending the Medicare guarantee" -- which PolitiFact has also rated False.
While Democrats will likely make much hay of Curbelo's Medicare and Social Security comments to older voters, they likely won't point to other parts of the tracker video -- such as when the Republican endorses a path the legalization for immigrants who are in the country illegally, much as Garcia does.
Here are the relevant clips -- though not the full video of Curbelo's remarks -- as recorded by the Democratic tracker. The full video is available after the job.