WHAT WILL ARMEY’S FRIENDS THINK?…. Yesterday, USA Today ran an editorial explaining that fears over Social Security’s future are unfounded. Complaints about long-term financing are misleading, the editorial board concluded, and the right’s privatization talk is misguided: “Social Security is, among other things, the nation’s most effective anti-poverty program, and when the markets crash, the elderly shouldn’t crash with them.”

In the interest of “balance,” the paper also ran an opposing piece from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), now the head of a right-wing lobbying group called FreedomWorks and an organizer of Tea Party rallies.

The palaver was pretty familiar. Armey suggests the entire Social Security system is becoming “generational theft,” and recommends dismantling it through privatization.

Workers should have the choice about whether they want to remain in the current system or invest in a personal saving retirement account, which would allow them to have complete control over their retirements funds and pass the remaining balance to family members. Let’s have Social Security compete against other investment options. […]

With U.S. lawmakers proposing tax hikes and benefit cuts to Social Security, the program is increasingly becoming a bad deal for workers and retirees. Americans should be free to choose an optional personal retirement account that allows them to take their retirement into their own hands.

That Dick Armey hates Social Security and wants to privatize it doesn’t exactly qualify as stop-the-presses news. The notion that there are right-wing fools pushing these schemes in the wake of an economic crash seems ridiculous, but Armey’s reputation for shamelessness is well deserved.

But here’s my question: as Armey travels the country and endorses favored candidates, are they asked if they’re on board with his assessment? Armey has positioned himself as one of the year’s major Republican boosters. Do they also believe that Social Security is a “bad deal,” which should be privatized to prevent “generational theft”?

A congressional candidate in Florida accepted Armey’s endorsement yesterday. A candidate in New York did the same today. Candidates in key contests in Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, and the state of Washington have all recently embraced Armey’s backing. There literally isn’t a state in the Union without an Armey-backed candidate this year.

Are they all on board with Armey’s Social Security extremism? Maybe someone should ask them.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.