Democrats hammer Republicans over Social Security as GOP candidates grab the ‘third rail’

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WASHINGTON — When Blake Masters ran for the Republican Senate nomination in Arizona, he put forward what he called a “fresh and innovative” idea.

“Maybe we should privatize Social Security. Right? Private retirement accounts, get the government out,” he said at a June forum with the fiscally conservative group FreedomWorks.

Masters then returned. “I don’t want to privatize Social Security,” he told the Republic of Arizona after winning the primary. “I think, in context, I was talking about something completely different. We cannot change the system. We can’t take the rug off seniors.”

Democrats saw an opening in the main race in Arizona. The party’s Senate campaign wing rolled out an ominous TV ad highlighting the footage and accusing Masters of seeking to “reduce and privatize our Social Security” to fund tax breaks for the rich, while “using our savings gambled in the stock market”.

Asked to clarify his stance, Masters campaign spokesperson Katie Miller told NBC News: “Blake’s position has always been clear. All he wants to do is encourage future generations to save through private accounts.” She described his position as ‘social security’.

In the run-up to the 2022 election, Masters is one of many Republicans hitting the so-called “third rail” of American politics — an expensive but popular pillar of the safety net that offers monthly benefits to over-62s who vote in large numbers. In major Senate and house races across the country, GOP candidates have called for long-term cuts in Social Security spending to tackle inflation and fix the program’s finances. Democrats are trying to make them pay a political price, arguing that the same Republicans have created a budget hole by cutting taxes on top earners.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that during a recent campaign shutdown, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said Social Security was “improperly set up” and that it would have been better to invest the money in the stock market. Earlier, Johnson told a radio program that Social Security and Health Care should be abolished as “mandatory” programs and subject to “discretionary” spending, meaning Congress would have to renew them annually or they would end.

His Democratic opponent, Mandela Barnes, responded that the two-year incumbent senator wants to “rob seniors of the benefits they’ve worked their entire lives for” and “throw the Wisconsin middle class overboard” to serve corporate donors.

‘Deadly attacks’

President Joe Biden waved at Johnson on Saturday, saying on Twitter that the senator “wants to have Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every year.”

Social Security’s retirement and survivorship benefits will be solvent through 2034, after which the program could provide 77% of projected payouts, according to a recent trustee report.

Democrats, eager to take credit as the Social Security-creator party, have tried to add to the contrast by proposing measures to extend benefits and lift the income tax cap to bring new funding into the program. .

Democratic strategists have long watched conservative calls for austerity the program as an electoral dynamite, especially among older voters.

“Republican plans to cut Social Security and Medicare could be deadly attacks because they drive a huge wedge in the middle of the Republican coalition,” said Dan Pfeiffer, an adviser to former President Barack Obama who opposed the plan in 2012. Romney Ryan. Partially privatize Medicare. “It’s hard to think of anything more unpopular than to cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for more tax cuts for the rich and corporations.”

In February, Republican Senate campaign chairman Rick Scott released an 11-point plan “to save America” ​​that requires “all federal legislation” to be halted within five years unless Congress decides to “reapprove it.” . Democrats said his idea could sink Social Security.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell quickly rejected Scott’s agenda, vowing that a potential GOP majority “wouldn’t have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and drops Social Security and Medicare within five years.” .”

McConnell witnessed significant backlash against his party in 2005 and 2012 when it called for changes to the pension safety net.

‘Make adjustments as people live longer’

The Republican Study Committee, a large group of House conservatives, proposed a budget in June that would raise the retirement age for Social Security collection incrementally, based on changing lifespans, and lower benefits over the long term by adopting a new formula. to use. The budget is guaranteed to be ignored in the Democrat-led House, but could gain a vote if the GOP gains control of that chamber this fall.

Some Republican House candidates have called for long-term cuts in pension spending to lower debt.

Among them is Scott Baugh, who challenges Representative Katie Porter, a California Democrat, in a competitive Orange County district that Democrats captured in 2018. In a recent interview at his Newport Beach office, Baugh said Congress “must reform rights” such as Social Security and Medicare to address unfunded liabilities and balance the long-term budget.

He praised the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan of 2010 as “a very good effort”, adding that “we need to make adjustments to Social Security as people live longer.” He called for a two-pronged effort where “one of the tools” in the toolbox could be an increase in retirement age. (The 2010 framework went nowhere as Democrats rejected pension spending cuts and House Republicans opposed new taxes to balance the budget.)

After the interview, his campaign adviser Dave Gilliard sent an email to NBC News to clarify that Baugh was not condoning benefit cuts for current retirees or employees.

“Scott is not in favor of raising the age for Social Security benefits for everyone who currently contributes to the system,” he said.


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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