Protecting Social Security Driving Campaigns Across the Nation

To: Interested Parties

From: Americans United for Change, formerly Americans United to Protect Social Security

Re: Protecting Social Security Driving Campaigns Across the Nation

September 16, 2010



As this summer heated up, so did the battle to protect Social Security from privatization schemes and massive benefit cuts.  In race after race, securing Social Security for our seniors and future generations has become a defining issue as voters look toward November. And one Republican candidate after another is promising to pursue the same old risky-Bush era scheme for gambling Social Security’s guaranteed benefits on Wall Street.  Some Republicans are feeling the heat for supporting U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’s detailed ‘roadmap to privatization and ruin,’ some are playing word games or running from their records of support for privatization, and some are even questioning whether Social Security should have ever existed in the first place.  See below for a sample of how Social Security is a hot button issue across the country.


AK Sen: Scott McAdams v Joe Miller

“[Bob] Schieffer noted that Miller has also taken controversial and even extreme positions. ‘First you say you want to phase out Medicare. You want to privatize Social Security. I have to say there are a lot of people in Alaska who are on Medicare and are getting Social Security. Isn't that position going to be a problem for you in the [general] election?’ ‘I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme, then you would also think that the founders are extreme,’ [Joe] Miller said.”  [CBS News, 8/29/10]


AR Sen: Blanche Lincoln v. John Boozman

“In the contrast ad, Lincoln touches on one of the Dems go to issues: Social Security. She also hits the Republican for supporting a flat tax. ‘John and I have serious differences,’ Lincoln says. ‘Unlike John, I'm against privatizing Social Security and Medicare. And I think John's idea for a 23 percent national sales tax on everything you buy is just a plain bad idea.’” [Hotline on Call, National Journal, 8/20/10]


AR-1: Chad Causey v. Rick Crawford

“In his first TV ad of the general election campaign, First District Democrat Chad Causey stakes out his support for veterans, Social Security and Medicare, and he wastes no time in charging his GOP opponent with supporting privatization of the social safety net program…Causey's campaign points to this link on his Facebook page to support the suggestion that Crawford would privatize Social Security.” [, 9/8/10]


AZ-8: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords v. Jesse Kelly

“Giffords claims Kelly's plan is to eliminate social security. ‘We have a lot of seniors a lot folks that have grown old here or have retired here. Depending on social security is critical for them,’ said Congresswoman Giffords. ‘But privatization of social security and gambling on the stock market is a risk frankly we can't afford.’ … ‘I support Paul Ryan's America's road map, it guarantees the benefits for people currently on it, while giving future generations the options to accept it," said Kelly.” [Fox 11 AZ, 8/26/10]


CA-3: Ami Bera v. Rep. Dan Lungren

Lungren expresses support for Ryan budget, stops short of endorsing it.LUNGREN: The Paul Ryan Roadmap is, that is the best long term look at trying to deal with our fiscal insanity right now that anybody has done. But that doesn’t mean I would sign on to everything. Paul Ryan would probably look for some changes. But no one else has had the courage to try to come forward with a comprehensive approach, that’s what I said. [, 8/12/10]


CO Sen: Michael Bennet v. Ken Buck

“The [Bennet] ad features Buck -- in his own words -- questioning the constitutionality of Social Security, the Department of Education and federal student loans. Buck also says he does not support exceptions for abortions in the cases of rape or incest.” [, 8/27/10]


“The attacks between U.S. Senate candidates Michael Bennet and Ken Buck have started, with incumbent Sen. Bennet going on the offensive over Social Security. Bennet’s campaign this weekend pointed to a comment by Buck, a Republican, at a conservative forum in March when he called Social Security a “horrible policy,” arguing that without privatizing the system, it will be bankrupt in the next 10 to 25 years… Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Change, the national liberal-leaning group formerly known as Americans United to Protect Social Security, which led the effort to defeat a privatization proposal by former Republican President George W. Bush, attacked Buck for his comments concerning Social Security.  “Many Republican members and would-be members of Congress across the country become very guarded and coy when asked about their support for renewed Bush-era schemes to privatize Social Security, but not Ken Buck. Ken Buck is someone that wears his contempt for Social Security’s very existence on his sleeve,” said Tom McMahon, executive director of Americans United for Change. [Denver Daily News, 8/16/10]



FL-8: Rep. Alan Grayson v. Dan Webster

“Former Florida state Senate Majority Leader Dan Webster, has also articulated an extreme policy proposal in the moderate Orlando district — cut social security benefits to balance the budget.” [Washington Independent, 8/16/10]


FL-22: Rep. Ron Klein v. Allen West

“Against the backdrop of House GOP leader John Boehner’s draconian proposal to slash Social Security and raise the retirement age, Congressman Ron Klein called Boehner’s comments “an insult to all Americans who have paid into Social Security” and called on congressional candidate Allen West to condemn the Republican leader, a major donor and supporter of the West campaign.” [Ron Klein Press Release, 7/1/10]


FL-24: Rep. Suzanne Komas v. Sandy Adams

“Marc Goldberg,campaign spokesman for Kosmas, said the attack ads are designed to help Adams. ‘Tallahassee insider Sandy Adams and her supporters are pushing an agenda that encourages companies to ship jobs overseas and gambles seniors’ hard-earned Social Security benefits on Wall Street. All the attack ads in the world pushing these policies won’t change the fact that their reckless agenda is wrong for Central Florida,’ said Goldberg.” [Orlando Sentinel, 8/27/10]


IL-10: Dan Seals v. Bob Dold

Today, U.S. Representative and Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Sandy Levin (D-MI) endorsed Dan Seals for Congress in Illinois’ 10th District, citing Seals’ critical support for Israel, fiscal responsibility, and the protection of Social Security… We need honest leaders like Dan Seals in Washington,” said Chairman Levin.“He understands the challenges facing our families at home and our friends overseas. I am proud to strongly endorse Dan, because he will fight to strengthen our economy, protect middle-class families and seniors, and stand firmly with our greatest ally, Israel.  On the other hand, Dan’s opponent’s plan for Social Security and Medicare is like a big hug to Congressman Paul Ryan.  Bob Dold is way outside the mainstream and doesn’t share our values.” [Dan Seals Press Release, 8/25/10]


IL-11: Rep. Debbie Halvorson v. Adam Kinzinger

“And while her opponent has floated a plan to increase the retirement age and privatize Social Security, Debbie is committed to protecting Social Security and Medicare, while working to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.” [Greg Gordon, Letter to the Editor, Bloomington Pantagraph, 8/17/10]


IL-14 Rep. Bill Foster v. Randy Hultgren

“Foster said he is "absolutely opposed" to any privatization of Social Security. ‘Privatization means cuts to benefits as well as risky returns,’ Foster said. ‘Retirees need an income that they can depend on.’” [Daily Herald, 8/18/10]


IN-2: Rep. Joe Donnelly v. Jackie Walorski

“In a response to an ad from Americans for Prosperity, Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) is out with an ad in which he continues to paint himself as his own man…The 30-second spot goes on to contrast state Rep. Jackie Walorski's (R) positions on Social Security and the energy bill, charging her with "blindly" toeing the party line.” [, 8/19/10]


IN-8: Trent Van Haaften v. Larry Bucshon

“The ad war is on in the 8th District congressional race…The Democratic ad accuses Bucshon, a Newburgh heart surgeon, of supporting the privatization of Social Security….The ad cites an April 17 interview on weekly political talk radio show, "The Dave Crooks Show." …When asked during the interview if people should ‘have the flexibility to invest their Social Security funds into private accounts,’ Bucshon said, ‘I think ultimately they should.’” [Courier Press, 5/23/10]


IN-9: Rep. Baron Hill v. Mike Sodrel

“Hill is challenging Young to sign a pledge that he will not seek to privatize Social Security, a plan Hill says would subject retirement income to stock market risks…Young is not backing away from comments made to supporters and redistributed via You Tube video, in which he likens Social Security, as it is actually run, to a Ponzi scheme. "It's tragic that basically Congress for a number of years now has taken money that most American workers assume is being set aside for their own retirements and instead spending it on other things," Young explained, "That's precisely what Ponzi scheme investment vehicles do.” [WHAS 11, 7/12/10]


KY Sen: Jack Conway v. Rand Paul

“Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway says 2010 is not a year to be “messing with” or “privatizing” Social Security but acknowledged that the social program could see trouble “30 or 40 years down the road.”… In an interview the day after his primary victory with CNN’s John King, Paul said Washington was “sort of an alcoholic drunk on spending” in referring specifically to Medicaid and Social Security. During the primary, Paul said in a forum in Lexington that the retirement age for Social Security would “almost certainly” need to be raised.” [CN2 Politics, 8/19/10]


KY-3: Rep. John Yarmuth v. Todd Lally

“Late Wednesday afternoon, Yarmuth's campaign manager issued a statement, criticizing Boehner. ‘The House Republican Leader has repeatedly called for cutting and privatizing Social Security, a dangerous plan that gambles seniors' retirement in the stock market,’ said Elizabeth Sawyer, who also criticized Lally for calling Social Security a ‘Ponzi Scheme.’” [WHAS11, 8/4/10]


KY-6: Rep. Ben Chandler v. Andy Barr

“In a July 15 radio appearance on WVLK-AM 590, a caller asked Barr whether "we can count on you to support the Republican budget." Barr responded, "Yeah. I mean, absolutely. I'm not in Congress now, of course, and I don't have an opportunity to support a particular budget, but that's certainly preferable -- that budget, a leaner budget -- is certainly preferable to the ones that have been offered by the President and the Speaker of the House.’” [Huffington Post, 8/30/10]


MD-1: Rep. Frank Kratovil v. Andrew Harris

“Maryland Rep. Frank Kratovil celebrated the 75th anniversary of the landmark Social Security Act by stopping at Social Security Administration offices in Salisbury and Cambridge…Kratovil, a Democrat representing the 1st District, re-affirmed his commitment to protect social security from attempts to dismantle or privatize the program.” [Daily Times, 8/12/10]


MI-1: Gary McDowell v. Dan Benishek

Democrats called foul late last week after Republican candidate Dan Benishek, a surgeon from Crystal Falls, released a statement calling for the preservation of Social Security…The statement didn't mesh with an earlier response during a candidate forum July 28 [where] Benishek is recorded as saying: "I tend to agree with (Wisconsin Republican) Congressman Paul Ryan's Road Map of America's Future. He addresses Social Security and Medicare. It's sort of a gradual phasing out of the Medicare and Social Security plan. Those in the plan now would have the same benefits and as you become younger, it becomes more and more of a personal savings and health insurance plan. This allows you to keep the money, and not have the money be in your name, so if you die it goes to your heirs. Now the money you pay to Social Security — the money is gone. So, I'm all in favor of privatizing it." [Petoskey News, 9/10/10]


MI-7: Rep. Mark Schauer v. Tim Walberg

“U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer, D-Bedford Township, says his Republican challenger is misleading voters about where he stands on privatizing Social Security. Former Congressman Tim Walberg of Tipton has long maintained that he doesn't support privatizing the system but would favor giving people the option of putting their contributions into private accounts.” [Battle Creek Enquirer, 8/25/10]


MS-1: Rep. Travis Childers v. Alan Nunnelee

“Gabrielle Giffords, a Blue Dog from Arizona, last week distributed a letter opposing any increase in the Social Security retirement age. She was seeking other co-sponsors for a sense of the House resolution to that effect. Her co-sponsors at the time of the letter included fellow Blue Dog Travis Childers (D-MS), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Laura Richardson (D-CA).” [FireDogLake, 8/4/10]


ND-AL: Rep. Earl Pomeroy v. Rick Berg

“Earl Pomeroy (D-ND), the chair of the Social Security Subcommittee on the House Ways and Means Committee, said that any benefit cuts to the program, including raising the retirement age, are “completely unacceptable” and should be taken off the table.” [FireDogLake, 8/11/10]


NJ-3: Rep. John Adler v. JonRunyan

“John Adler personally understands the important role that Social Security plays for seniors and widows.  As a child, John and his mother relied on Social Security when his father died. This is why John strongly opposes privatizing Social Security and Medicare. As seen with the severe drop in the stock market in 2008, seniors and workers simply cannot risk gambling Social Security funds on an unpredictable stock market.” [John Adler Campaign Website


NM-2: Rep. Harry Teague v. Steve Pearce

“In the south, Congressman Harry Teague replied that to entertain the idea of raising the age was “dangerous.” His Republican challenger, Steve Pearce, e-mailed his reply (underlined and in bold), saying he doesn’t think the retirement age should be raised. Pearce addressed the topic in the context of the current recession, but he has an extensive on-the-record history from past campaigns in which he is supportive of partial privatization of social security for workers who are currently under 50.” [New Mexico Independent, 8/25/10]


NV Sen: Harry Reid v. Sharron Angle

“Angle sought repeatedly during the interview to turn the subject to Reid, blaming him for Nevada's soaring unemployment rate and accusing him of "pillaging" Social Security and over-regulating private industry. She also sought to deflect interviewer Jon Ralston's questions about her more attention-getting views, including past statements that Social Security and Medicare should be privatized…” [Washington Post, 6/30/10]


NV-3: Rep. Dina Titus v. Joe Heck

“…the union ads alleges that Heck supports privatizing Social Security. The ad says if it were up to Heck "women's retirement would be privatized, gambled away on Wall Street." It cites a May 4 interview with Nevada News and Views in which Heck said people "should have the right to voluntarily take their portion of Social Security withholding and invest it as they deem appropriate." He went on to say the plan should be voluntary and not include employer contributions to Social Security. A second ad focuses exclusively on the claim Heck wants to privatize Social Security.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9/1/10]


NY-1: Rep. Tim Bishop v. Randy Altschuler

“Congressman Tim Bishop joined Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio at the Smithtown Senior Center to wish a happy 75th birthday "and many happy returns" to the Social Security program. Congressman Bishop discussed his efforts to protect Social Security benefits and strengthen and improve the program.” [Bishop Campaign Release, 8/17/10]


NY-19: Rep. John Hall v. Nan Hayworth

“Congressman Hall strongly opposes all efforts to privatize Social Security which would divert trillions of dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund into private accounts and subject worker’s basic retirement security to Wall Street’s ups and downs.” [Hall Campaign Release, 8/12/10]


NY-20: Rep. Scott Murphy v. Chris Gibson

“Privatizing Social Security has become an issue in the 20th Congressional District race as House Republican Leader John Boehner comes to the district to raise campaign funds for Chris Gibson, the Republican candidate. “John Boehner’s been a big supporter of and proponent of privatizing Social Security for a long time. … A lot of us don’t think that’s the right way to go,” said U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy... Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, is scheduled to headline a campaign fund-raising reception with Gibson in Saratoga Springs.” [Post Star, 8/19/10]


NY-24: Rep. Michael Arcuri v. Richard Hanna

“Arcuri, however, said the system is still strong, and Social Security can survive without relying on other spending cuts. The government just needs to stop taking money out of the system for other programs, he said. “What we need to do is just use Social Security for Social Security,” said Arcuri.” [Observer-Dispatch, 9/2/10]


NY-25: Rep. Dan Maffei v. Ann Marie Buerkle

“Today Congressman Maffei agreed to sign a pledge to protect Social Security presented to him by the Alliance for Retired Americans on August 12th. The ARA's pledge outlined a promise not to privatize social security or preclude young people from paying into the system.” [Dan Maffei Campaign Release, 8/18/10]


OH-1: Rep. Steve Driehaus v. Steve Chabot

“U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-West Price Hill, said such talk of "privatization" from his opponent and former congressman Steve Chabot is "dangerous ... and caters to the profiteers on Wall Street." But Chabot, who lost the seat to Driehaus in 2008, does not believe in such privatization … However, he was in favor of allowing younger workers to voluntarily invest their contributions, said campaign spokesman Jamie Schwartz.” [Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/16/10]


OH-15: Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy v. Steve Stivers

“Last week we celebrated Social Security's 75th anniversary, and in commemoration I stood with House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman, Sandy Levin, and signed the Medicare Pledge. In doing this, I committed to oppose all efforts to privatize Social Security, divert any funds to private investment accounts, or cut benefits -- a promise I did not make lightly. The day after I signed this pledge, my opponent, former banking lobbyist Steve Stivers, announced that he also opposes privatizing Social Security. You know, it would be great if this were true, but it's just one more example of political doublespeak -- saying one thing to the public and another when you don't think anyone else is listening.” [Mary Jo Kilroy Huffington Post column, 8/17/10]


OH-17: Rep. Tim Ryan v. Jim Graham

“U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-17, told a group of seniors at the SCOPE Center on West Market Street here that Social Security has proven the most successful piece of legislation passed in American history, and will continue to benefit seniors and their families for generations to come. But Ryan's opponent for his House seat, Republican Jim Graham, injected himself into the press event with arguments that the system is broken and is today a "financial disaster" that needs to be fixed.” [Business Journal Daily, 8/20/10]


PA Sen.: Joe Sestak v. Pat Toomey
Pat Toomey changes verb but not intent for privatizing Social Security’ -- Pat Toomey appeared to be trying a little revisionist history this week when he claimed he never called for privatizing Social Security. Toomey made the statement at the end of his appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday, only to see a wave of critics calling Toomey out. That included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which dug up a 2003 headline from Toomey's hometown newspaper, the Allentown Morning Call, which read: "Toomey: Privatize Social Security.''[Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA), 8/25/10]

‘Toomey: Privatize Social Security? Who, me?’ --   “I’ve never said I favor privatizing Social Security,” Toomey said Monday in response to a question at the Press Club of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. “It’s an intentionally misleading term,” he added.  Except that for a decade or more Toomey has spoken of reforming the entitlement  program by allowing younger workers to invest part of their payroll taxes and thus “own” their savings in a personal retirement account. The idea has its own chapter in his book, The Road to Prosperity, and Toomey was a leading advocate of former President George W. Bush’s 2005 plan for personal accounts.[Philly Inquirer, 8/26/10]

“Jeff Rousset of Penn Action came from Philadelphia to follow the Toomey campaign. "I'm trying to figure out Mr. Toomey's plan for privatizing Social Security," he said. "His proposed reforms to Social Security would be devastating."  Toomey recently said he never favored privatizing Social Security, and Democrats have been combing his record to show that he led an effort to establish personal retirement accounts invested in Wall Street.”[Chambersburg Public Opinion, 8/24/10]


PA-6: Manan Trivedi v. Rep. Jim Gerlach

“Symbolic of the candidates' stark differences on this issue, while Trivedi was making his pledge to seniors, Gerlach was on his way to dinner with the Republican House Minority Leader. Over the years, Gerlach has regularly voted against protecting the Social Security fund. This evening, John Boehner is hosting a high-dollar fundraising event for Gerlach. In June of this year, Boehner, whose job it is to craft and execute the Republican agenda, came up here to Pennsylvania to float the idea to means-test Social Security and raise the retirement age to 70.” [Phoenixville News, 8/15/10]


PA-10: Rep. Chris Carney v. Thomas Marino

“Candidates for an area congressional seat are slugging it out again - this time over Social Security. Democratic incumbent Chris Carney claims his opponent wants to take away retirement benefits for the hard-working people of the district. Republican Thomas A. Marino says that's not the case and that he wants to see Social Security for future generations.” [Sun Gazette, 8/25/10]


PA-11: Rep. Paul Kanjorski v. Lou Barletta

“Kanjorski’s campaign spokesman Ed Mitchell believes Barletta and Boehner are campaigning together because Barletta’s beliefs are identical to Boehner’s…“Like Lou Barletta has, John Boehner supports privatization of Social Security. He also wants to raise the retirement age to qualify for it. Lou Barletta’s vote will give Boehner control of the Congress to push that agenda. Paul Kanjorski opposes privatization and raising the retirement age or any other cuts in the program. The choice is clear,” Mitchell stated in an e-mail.” [Times Leader, 8/14/10]


SC-5: Rep. John Spratt v. Mick Mulvaney

“John Spratt is working to make sure both Social Security and Medicare remain structurally sound and financially solvent for generations to come. John is against any effort to privatize either program.” [John Spratt Campaign Site]


SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin v. Kristi Noem

“They especially clashed on Social Security, with Herseth Sandlin renewing her charge that Noem favored a proposal to privatize it and Noem saying she had not made such an assertion.” [Daily Republic, 8/30/10]


“Later came a question about whether the candidates favored privatizing Social Security. Noem, up first, said she never had taken a position on the issue…Next came Herseth Sandlin: "I have taken a position on privatizing Social Security. I stand firmly against it." Herseth Sandlin continued, saying Noem thought it was "the right thing to do" to adopt a budget proposal by a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, Paul Ryan. Social Security is a part of Ryan's proposal, and he calls for raising the retirement age and giving younger workers the ability to invest about one-third of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts … Next came a news conference called by John McIntyre, a retired teacher and former Democratic
state lawmaker. McIntyre asked both candidates to sign a pledge opposing the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. Herseth Sandlin's campaign issued a release about two hours later saying she would sign the pledge. The news conference was followed by a release from Americans United for Change, a group that opposes changes to Social Security. The release called on Noem to be "honest" about her support for privatizing the system.”  [Argus Leader, 8/15/10]


TX-23: Rep. Ciro Rodriguez v. Francisco Canseco

“In a video posted on July 13, Canesco told a questioner that he supports Ryan's alternative budget proposal. Canseco is also one of the NRCC's Young Guns.” [Huffington Post, 8/30/10]


VA-5: Rep. Tom Perriello v. Robert Hurt

“Scottsburg resident Grace Seat asked Perriello if he would sign a “pledge” stating he wouldn’t vote for legislation that cuts social security benefits, reducing payments and/or raising the retirement age. The congressman responded he was opposed to privatization of social security but didn’t believe benefits should be cut.” [Gazette-Virginian, 8/19/10]


WA-3: Denny Heck v. Jaime Herrera

“State Democrats filed a federal elections complaint this week alleging that Republican Jaime Herrera’s campaign in the 3rd Congressional District might have illegally collaborated with a third-party group on ads attacking Democratic candidate Denny Heck… “The complaint speaks for itself,” Heck spokesman Grant Lahmann said. “There are definitely very serious questions … . What is clear is that extremely conservative groups have aligned themselves with our Republican opponent. These folks have advocated for keeping tax breaks that ship jobs overseas and privatizing Social Security. … This is not what the 3rd Congressional District needs right now.’” [The Olympian, 8/27/10]

WI-7: Julie Lassa v. Sean Duffy

“Pointing to Duffy's past support for Janesville Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future," which includes a private option for new Social Security enrollees, has been a theme for Lassa's campaign.” [Wausau Daily Herald, 9/1/10]