U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO))

Conservative talk-radio host Ross Kaminsky dredged up an old conversation Tuesday, saying Social Security is “clearly” a “Ponzi scheme” and a “fraud.”

To his credit, Kaminsky didn’t just proclaim the 80-year-old program a “Ponzi scheme” and move on. Instead, he had a six-minute debate with Max Richtman, director of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. Listen here..

A search of Colorado politicians who agree with Kaminsky that Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme revealed U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who told a radio host a few years back that Social Security is “obviously” a “Ponzi scheme.”

In fact, a Ponzi scheme is defined as an “investment swindle in which supposed profits are paid to early investors from money actually invested by later participants.” Maybe that’s what Social Security sounds like to people who think government shouldn’t collect taxes and devise programs to help people, because the program relies on the ongoing collection of Social Security taxes.

But if you’re ok with basic taxation for the benefit of yourself and others, you probably understand that Social Security is no swindle, but actually a successful government-run retirement system based on a funding formula that’s worked, with rational adjustments, for 80 years.

Asked about his Ponzi-scheme comment later, Coffman told Fox 31 Denver’s Ron Zappolo:

Zappolo: You are never afraid to say controversial things.

Coffman: It’s true.

Zappolo: I’ll give you just a couple. You went on somewhere the other day and said that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. You’ve also talked about how all ballots should be in English. Correct?

Coffman: Right.

Zappolo: Do you ever think about, as a politician, some of these things, I might be better off steering away from?

Coffman: You know, no. [smiles] My staff wishes I would. [laughs]

Zappolo: The honesty comes out. [laughs]

Coffman: But I don’t. The thing with Social Security. I think it is, although I agreed with Ponzi.

Zappolo: You scared people in your district who are 65 and over.

“Social Security is social insurance,” said Richtman to Kaminsky, who’s the morning host on Denver’s KHOW 630-AM. “You need to try to wrap your head around that, Ross. Social Security is a program of insurance for families. Social Security pays old-age survivor and disability benefits. A third of Social Security benefits goes to non-retired workers, spouses, survivors, disabled, children. About 3 million children get by because of Social Security. So this is insurance for families. [With Social Security,] you are buying insurance in the event that something happens to your family and to have some modicum of decent living when you do retire.”

“Insurance is a contract,” countered Kaminsky. “You don’t have any contract with the government. They could change this. The only thing that’s keeping them from changing it, ending it, whatever, is political realities, which is better than nothing I suppose.”