Politics & Policy

Reid, Dems Fire Back on Social Security

Today the war of words in the Silver State’s biggest electoral race is being waged over Social Security, an issue important to Nevada’s seniors as well as those approaching retirement age.

Competing press releases with YouTube links galore have been flying since Sharron Angle this morning released a new television ad saying she wants to “save” Social Security, even though she has in the past said she believes we ought to “phase out” the program.

A Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press release–from the desk of Deidre Murphy, national press secretary–calls the ad “grossly misleading” and includes recent statements made by Angle in debates and media appearances as well as details on a 2005 vote she cast while in the state legislature:

Angle Wants To “Phase Out” Social Security And Medicare. During a May 2010 debate on Face to Face, Sharron Angle said, “We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out in favor of something privatized.” She later added, “Going forward we need to phase it out, give people an opportunity to either opt into the old system or go for a new system where they have their own healthcare savings account or they have their own retirement savings account which is portable and goes with them from job to job and for those who are entering the workforce right now they come on to the new system so it’s a phased-in system so it’s something [inaudible] privatize.” [Face to Face debate, 5/19/10]

Angle: Social Security “Hard To Justify.” In a May interview with KNPR, Angle said “it’s very difficult…to justify social security. As you know F.D.R. put it in as an insurance policy for those who were needy. My grandfather would not even take his social check because he said he was not up for welfare, he had planned for his retirement, so he wouldn’t take it.  But, since then we have gotten into this whole mindset that it’s an entitlement.” [KNPR, State of Nevada, 5/19/2010]

Angle Voted Against A Resolution Opposing President Bush’s Risky Plan To Privatize Social Security. In 2005, Sharron Angle opposed Assembly Joint Resolution 1, which urged Congress to oppose privatization of Social Security. The next day, the Review-Journal reported, “Voting mainly along party lines, the Assembly approved on a 27-13 vote Thursday a resolution that calls on Congress to reject President Bush’s plans to let younger workers invest a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes. Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said Social Security has been one of the most successful government programs and that 314,120 Nevadans rely on their monthly checks. Buckley said the creation of private investment accounts carries a risk since the ‘stock market goes up and down.’” [AJR 1, 2/24/05; Las Vegas Review-Journal, 2/25/05]

The Harry Reid campaign quickly followed up with an “In Her Own Words” YouTube video:

 

Harry Reid spokesman Kelly Steele also sent out a fiery missive including the following:

Sharron Angle’s Position on Social Security: Now She’s Just Simply Lying (w/VIDEO)

Black is white. Up is down. Eliminate means save. This is the world of Sharron Angle.

Having tanked in polls since winning the GOP nomination, Angle is now engaged in an attempt to rewrite history regarding her position on Social Security – now claiming she actually wants to save Social Security. The problem? Angle has spent her entire political career, escalated to a fever pitch during the Republican primary campaign, denouncing Social Security and promising to dismantle the program entirely.

Now, in interviews with friendly conservative media outlets as well as paid communications, Angle is claiming she’s never wanted to eliminate or phase out Social Security, but rather that she’s always been an advocate of “saving” the program. Angle must believe that Nevada voters and members of the media have amnesia, or that video evidence over her long-standing agenda to dismantle Social Security simply doesn’t exist.

A few minutes ago, Angle campaign manager Jarrod Agen zinged out a quick press release asking, about Harry Reid’s position, “Is the guy who thinks Social Security will be great for the next 40 years really in the right spot to criticize?” Agen then references some of Reid’s remarks from a July television interview:

“People have to stop badmouthing social security. Social security according to CBO, according to the general accounting office, is ok for the next 40 years. And even after that, people will draw 80 or 85 percent of the benefits if we do nothing. So I think we should just stop frightening people about how bad of shape social security is in.” – Harry Reid (“Face To Face With Jon Ralston,” 7/9/10)

Agen also provided a clip of Reid’s appearance:

 

A campaign press release from Team Angle that came out just minutes after Agen’s includes additional push-back on the solvency of the program via a 2005 Associated Press report about the solvency of Social Security:

In 2005, Reid Believed TheSocial Security Crisis Exists In Only One Place: The Minds Of Republicans,” Despite A Report Showing That Social Security Will Begin Paying Out More In Benefits Than It Receives In Payroll Taxes In 2017. “A new report on the financial health of Social Security changed the numbers only slightly and the terms of the political debate even less so. The trustees who oversee the government retirement program said Wednesday that Social Security will begin paying out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes in 2017. That means the government at that point will have to increase its borrowing on financial markets, raise taxes or divert money from other government programs to sustain Social Security at current levels. . . .  Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the report ‘confirms that the so-called Social Security crisis exists in only one place: the minds of Republicans.’” (Glen Johnson, “Social Security Report Changes Numbers Slightly, But Not The Political Debate,” The Associated Press, 3/24/05)

Something tells me this isn’t over.

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