Politics & Policy

Kagen’s Social Security Slander

WI-8: Social Security has become a major issue in Wisconsin races this year, and the source of a lot of trumped up accusations. For example, in Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen’s latest ad…

…he accuses Republican Reid Ribble of wanting to do away with Social Security altogether — and force Wisconsin seniors to “fend for themselves” — using a clip of Ribble making the following statement: “Somehow we have to establish a phase-out of the current Social Security system…” PolitiFact Wisconsin exposes the dishonest nature of Kagen’s charge (emphasis added):

The footage of Ribble is from a campaign forum held Nov. 3, 2009 by the Fox Valley Initiative, a tea party group. Ribble did speak the 14 words in question — and many more than that. The video actually cuts him off mid-sentence.

Here is what Ribble actually said, based on a longer video of the same statement posted on YouTube. We’ll highlight where the new words pick up.

“Somehow we have to establish a phase-out of the current Social Security system to a new system. And that will have to happen over time. It could happen in a single generation.”

Ribble goes on to discuss how the life expectancy of  Americans has grown since Social Security was established in the 1930s, and its effect on the system.

“It has to change,” Ribble said of Social Security. “It will bankrupt this country if it doesn’t change.”

That’s a far cry from getting rid of Social Security.

There’s more. The ad states that “Politician” Reid Ribble wants to “phase out Social Security.” Except Ribble has never held (or run for, until now) political office in his life. The ad couldn’t be more false or misleading. For his efforts, PolitiFact gives Kagen a much-deserved “Pants on Fire” rating.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...


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