Privatizing Social Security is 'a loser' for Republicans — but they keep proposing it anyway

Privatizing Social Security is 'a loser' for Republicans — but they keep proposing it anyway
Economy

When Democrats enjoyed a major blue wave in the 2006 midterms and recaptured both branches of Congress, the dominant factor was frustration over the Iraq War. But Democrats, especially Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, also hammered then-President George W. Bush over his proposal to privatize Social Security. Republican Bush described that blue wave as a “thumping” for his party.

Despite that 2006 thumping, former House Speaker Paul Ryan subsequently advocated privatizing Social Security during the Barack Obama years — once again giving Democrats an issue to attack Republicans on. Journalist Natalie Allison, in an article published by Politico on September 22, emphasizes that as wildly unpopular as that proposal is, some Republicans continue to revisit it anyway.

“For two decades, campaign after campaign, Republican politicians have floated the idea of privatizing government entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare,” Allison explains. “And campaign after campaign — from Paul Ryan to George W. Bush — it’s been a loser. But for some reason, they keep trying. The latest is Don Bolduc, New Hampshire’s GOP Senate nominee, who advocated privatizing Medicare during a campaign town hall in early August.”

READ MORE: Congressional progressives warn GOP wants to 'take a chainsaw to' Social Security

Bolduc, a far-right MAGA Republican and conspiracy theorist who once called conservative Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu a “Chinese communist sympathizer,” is hoping to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. And he has done a lot of flip flopping during his campaign. In 2021, Bolduc was a “Stop the Steal” Trumpster, making the false and thoroughly debunked claim that widespread voter fraud robbed former President Donald Trump of a second term. Now, Bolduc is walking that back, saying that the 2020 election was not stolen from Trump and admitting that President Joe Biden won the election fairly. And another thing Bolduc is walking back is his proposal to privatize Medicare.

“Bolduc’s remarks about privatizing Medicare will all but certainly be used against him in advertisements by Democrats, who have long used the threat of changes to Social Security and Medicare to animate older voters,” Allison notes. “Bolduc’s opponent, incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan, has said she would fight to protect existing Social Security and Medicare programs. The reversal on Medicare isn’t Bolduc’s first since he clinched the Republican nomination in New Hampshire’s primary last week. Bolduc, who unapologetically declared over the last two years that he believed the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, announced two days after the primary that he had changed his mind — a clear attempt to appeal to the more moderate and independent voters he’ll need to vote for him in the general election in November.”

In Wisconsin, Allison observes, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson — who is seeking a third term — has suggested that Medicare and Social Security should not be automatically renewed every year. And his Democratic opponent, Mandela Barnes, has been attacking him for it via a group called Seniors for Mandela.

Meanwhile, in Arizona’s U.S. Senate race, Blake Masters — the Trump-backed MAGA Republican who is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly — has also flip-flopped on privatizing Social Security. In June, Masters said, “We need fresh and innovative thinking. Maybe we should privatize Social Security. Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it.” But Masters now says that he is opposed to privatizing Social Security or Medicare.

READ MORE: JD Vance changes course on Social Security and Medicare

“Masters’ change of heart on Social Security hasn’t stopped Democrats from pummeling the Republican nominee with television attack ads on the issue,” Allison writes. “The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent more than $1.7 million on television ads in Arizona specifically highlighting Masters’ comments on privatizing Social Security — a topic they’re still putting money behind on the air. Other Democratic groups have taken out digital ads on the topic. It appears their messaging is breaking through to voters. During a focus group conducted Thursday by the anti-Trump Republican Accountability Project, viewed exclusively by Politico, two of the nine Arizona voters participating — each of whom voted for Trump in 2016 but not in 2020 — brought up Masters’ views on Social Security.”

READ MORE: 'Self-serving, multimillionaire' Ron Johnson targets Medicare and Social Security

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