The Democrats probably would have attacked their Republican adversaries on Social Security even if they weren’t desperate, but the cornered-animal fear coursing through their veins is causing them to attack more fiercely and dishonestly than usual, resulting in some truly hilarious campaign ads. Take the one the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running in South Carolina, against GOP House candidate Mick Mulvaney. Earlier this year, Mulvaney joined just about every Republican in the South Carolina general assembly (and more than a few Democrats) in voting for a resolution affirming the state’s Tenth Amendment rights against encroachment by the federal government. Several states passed similar resolutions as a symbolic protest against Obamacare. According to the DCCC, this vote was tantamount to professing a belief that senior citizens receiving Social Security should be thrown in jail.
Don’t follow the logic? Neither do we. The DCCC ad depicts a granny in a pink gingham dress posing for a mug shot, then sitting forlornly in a jail cell with a sign that says, “Help!” “If he could,” a narrator intones, Mulvaney would make Social Security “illegal.” Ironically, Mulvaney’s Democratic opponent, House Budget Committee chairman John Spratt, is one of the few Democrats who have openly entertained the idea of moving toward a system of private accounts, which Democrats equate with . . . well, just watch the ad. In another irony, Mulvaney has decided to use Spratt’s previous support for private accounts against him, stating on his website, “I disagree with that approach as a cure-all.” If only Mulvaney were half the radical the Democrats accuse him of being.
The fact is that, to the best of our knowledge, none of the Republicans running this year have advocated any proposal that alters the arrangements of anyone over the age of 55. Seniors have always been exempt from mainstream Republican proposals to address the looming entitlement crisis, but this hasn’t stopped Democrats from lying about the nature of those proposals to convince seniors who are currently relying on Social Security and Medicare that their benefits are in play. This election season is no different. In fact, it’s worse. Charlie Crist, the Republican who turned independent when it became clear that Marco Rubio was going to trounce him in Florida’s Senate primary, recently accused Rubio of wanting to “balance the budget on the backs of seniors,” even though Rubio has come out against any plan that cuts benefits for current or near retirees.
Rubio has stated that he is open to the idea of raising the retirement age or slowing the growth of benefits for younger workers if that’s what it takes to keep the system solvent, and any politician who says otherwise might as well be on the record as supporting massive tax hikes. Since Crist would rather not (be on the record, that is), he has joined the Democrats in the land of magical thinking about Social Security: His “first plan” for ensuring the system’s solvency would be to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants. Is he really unaware of the fact that most illegal immigrants already pay into the system, and that making them legal would merely make them eligible for benefits — thereby increasing Social Security’s liabilities? Crist’s back-up plan would involve cracking down on “waste and fraud” in the system. The word for any politician who claims that he can achieve significant savings by cracking down on waste and fraud is “unserious,” and in terms of the actual choices we face on entitlements, that word translates into “a supporter of much higher taxes.”
It seems like just months ago (actually, it was) that Democrats were accusing Republicans of opportunistically trying to scare seniors by highlighting the $500 billion in Medicare cuts contained in the Obama-Reid-Pelosi health-care bill. Republican supporters of entitlement reform, in particular, were labeled hypocrites, and some even deserved it. But there is a big difference between making cuts to entitlement programs to ensure their long-term solvency and appropriating $500 billion from an already-bankrupt program to fund a new entitlement. The entitlement programs we have are unaffordable, and the behemoth deficits we are running now and into the future have severely curtailed our options for reform. In this year’s campaign, a willingness to speak honestly about the bad and worse options we have is the mark of a politician who understands he will soon have to deal with this problem. A willingness to accuse that person of wanting to round up seniors and throw them in jail is the mark of a desperate man.