Social Security

Happy Birthday Social Security—Let's Remember That Mike Pence Was A Cheerleader For The Program's Destruction

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law. Eighty-one years later it still represents one of the most successful social programs in our country’s history.

Nearly two out of every three seniors rely on the Social Security for the majority of their income. If it did not exist, 44 percent of the elderly would live in poverty. Currently only 9 percent do.

As a member of Congress, Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was one of the biggest cheerleaders for George W. Bush’s privatization plans and other reforms that would have harmed the program.

As early as 2002, Pence spoke in the House of Representatives in favor of privatization. In 2005, after President Bush proposed reforms, he delivered speech after speech in favor of the proposal. He claimed at the time, “Social Security reform means keeping its promise in tact for seniors and all who choose to remain in the system. But Social Security reform also means offering a better deal to younger Americans in the form of voluntary personal accounts.”

A consistent theme of Pence’s was that privatization and other reforms would save the program from insolvency and protect seniors from future cuts. This was not true.

According to an analysis at the time from the Center for American Progress, such reforms would actually “worsen Social Security’s financial outlook. In addition:

  • Bush Would Address Solvency Solely by Cutting Benefits.
  • Benefit Cuts Would Come Through a Change in the Benefit Formula.
  • Bush’s Benefit Cuts Would Affect 70 Percent of All Taxpayers.
  • More Benefit Cuts Down the Road under Bush’s Plan.

Furthermore, Bush’s privatization plan would have added “trillions of dollars” to the deficit, while only providing “limited” investment choices for seniors. Yet Pence enthusiastically supported this policy.

Paul Krugman wrote of Bush’s Social Security proposal, “Privatizing Social Security—replacing the current system, in whole or in part, with personal investment accountswon't do anything to strengthen the system's finances. If anything, it will make things worse. Nonetheless, the politics of privatization depend crucially on convincing the public that the system is in imminent danger of collapse, that we must destroy Social Security in order to save it.”

On Social Security’s birthday, let’s remember that Mike Pence was one of those cheering for the program’s destruction.

Kasich and Bush: More Like Other Extreme GOP Candidates Than Perceived

This post by PFAW Political Director Randy Borntrager was originally published in the Huffington Post. 

Discussions of Governor Kasich's role in the 2016 election have centered around his strategy of defining himself to voters as an alternative to Jeb Bush: a moderate, compassionate conservative without Bush's last name. This strategy presupposes that both Bush and Kasich are in fact middle-of-the-road Republicans who hold moderate positions that would make them electable next November.

That proposition is false. While Kasich and Bush certainly took a more measured tone in the first Republican debate compared to, say, Donald Trump, their policy positions and records as governor in Ohio and Florida show that they're just as extreme and far-right as the rest of the Republican field.

Few issues demonstrate the extreme agenda of Bush, Kasich, and the Republican Party more than a woman's right to choose. Kasich has directly targeted access to legal abortion in Ohio though enacting medically unnecessary, cumbersome laws that closed abortion clinics. He signed a bill including a policy that restricts rape crisis counselors from providing referrals to abortion services to rape survivors. Jeb Bush calls himself the "most pro-life governor in modern times." As governor, he tried to restrict the ability of a mentally disabled rape victim to have an abortion. The "Scarlet Letter" law enacted during Bush's term as governor required a single mother who did not know the father of her child to pay for a month-long newspaper ad before putting her child up for adoption. The ad had to include personal details about the mother and her sexual history, complete with dates and locations where the child could have been conceived. Bush and Kasich are just as bad as their fellow candidates like Scott Walker, who recently signed a 20-week abortion bill even though he promised voters in his last campaign that the right to choose is between a woman and her doctor; or Marco Rubio, who co-sponsored a 20-week abortion bill in the Senate.

On Social Security, Kasich and Bush support former President George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. Had his plan been enacted, the stock market crash of 2008 would have decimated Social Security savings of seniors across the country. That doesn't seem to bother anyone in the Republican field other than, of all people, Donald Trump. He's actually spoken out against cuts to Social Security and Medicare, calling them "not fair" to workers. On immigration, Kasich and Bush have used less offensive language than Donald Trump, but both - and the rest of the leading Republican candidates - oppose President Obama's policies that protect DREAMers and families from deportation. Neither Bush nor Kasich nor any leading Republican candidate supports comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship, even though that's a commonsense policy that would enable undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, stay with their families, and contribute to the American economy.

Kasich and Bush have reiterated time and again that their economic experience would make them ideal presidential candidates. The extreme GOP base might like those policies, but the fact is, they've made it more difficult for working class families to get ahead. After accounting for inflation, the average Ohio household earned less in 2013 than it did in 1984. Kasich's 2015 budget cut taxes by only $24 for middle-class Ohioans, raised taxes by $20 for taxpayers in the lowest income bracket, yet included a $10,000 tax cut for the wealthiest Ohioans. Bush keeps trumpeting his tenure as governor, but as the Washington Post reported, "Florida owed a substantial portion of its growth under Bush not to any state policies but to a massive and unsustainable housing bubble -- one that ultimately benefited rich investors at the expense of middle-class families." Bush also provided tax cuts to the wealthiest Floridians while cutting funding for essential programs for senior citizens and children. Kasich and Bush's failed economic policies are par for the course for Republican candidates: Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie have both been hammered for their states' economic woes.

Far-right policy positions defined the gubernatorial terms of Bush and Kasich. Now that they're running for president, we can't let them run from their records. Bush and Kasich's extreme agendas are in line with every single other Republican candidate that was on stage during the first debate.

Randy Borntrager lives in Ohio and is the political director of People For the American Way, D.C.-based progressive advocacy organization. He has previously served as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy and the communications director and interim executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party.


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Jeffress: Social Security Crisis, Medicare Crisis and Deficit are ‘God’s Judgment’ for Legal Abortion

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Robert Jeffress, a prominent endorser of Gov. Rick Perry, said in an interview with Janet Mefferd yesterday that the Social Security crisis, the Medicare crisis and the mounting federal deficit are “God’s judgment” for legalized abortion.

Citing a study by the fringe anti-choice group Movement for a Better America, Jeffress claims that legalized abortion is responsible for $35 trillion in lost GDP over the last 35 years.


Jeffress: Since Roe v. Wade, we’ve had 40 million babies aborted, murdered. Do you realize that if those children, one study I cite in the books says, if those children had been allowed to live, if they had grown up and become productive citizens, it would have added $35 trillion to our Gross National Product in the last 35 years, and there would be no Social Security crisis or Medicare crisis because those people would be paying, productive citizens into the system.

You know, we’ve got even conservatives, Janet, in the Republican Party who are saying, “Oh, this is the year where we’re interested in the economy and not in social issues.” Listen, there is a connection between social issues and economic issues. You cannot wipe out 20 percent of your population, like we have done as a nation through abortion, without great economic repercussions, which I think are God’s judgment. I think the mounting deficit, the Social Security crisis, all those things are part of God’s judgment because we have murdered 20 percent of our population. 

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