PALM BEACH GARDENS — Retiree Carol Berman of West Palm Beach spoke glowingly of President Barack Obama from the podium at last year’s Democratic National Convention, but she found herself in the odd position today of criticizing the president for his proposal to slow down future Social Security benefit increases.
Berman was part of a crowd of about 30 people, mostly retirees from Democrat-leaning groups, who demonstrated outside the local office of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to urge Rubio to oppose Obama’s “chained CPI” proposal.
The budget plan Obama submitted this year includes an estimated $130 billion in savings over 10 years by adopting a new inflation formula that results in slight reductions in annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security and other programs. Many Republicans praised that aspect of Obama’s budget.
Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, stated her opposition to President Barack Obama‘s proposal to use a slightly less-generous inflation calculation for Social Security increases during a teleconference with seniors from her district Wednesday night.
Frankel’s office arranged for automated phone calls to be placed to about 55,000 senior households in her Palm Beach-Broward District 22. About 6,600 people ended up on the hourlong call, Frankel spokeswoman Sarah Rothschild said.
Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, was Frankel’s guest on Wednesday and spent nearly as much time talking to Frankel’s constituents as Frankel did.
Tea party firebrand U.S. Rep. Allen West likened Social Security to a “form of slavery” in an interview on Fox News this weekend.
West, running for a second term in Congress in the new Palm Beach County-Treasure Coast District 18, said the number of Americans going on Social Security disability is higher since 2009 than the number of new jobs created, blaming President Obama for “creating this sense of economic dependence, which to me is a form of modern, 21st-century slavery.”
West blamed the “liberal media” for misrepresenting his comments in a post on his Facebook page.
“Over the weekend I was on Fox & Friends discussing the growing number of Americans becoming dependent on government programs from food stamps to social security disability. Of course the liberal media is now putting words in mouth and saying I attacked Social Security. The fact is, I will work to protect Social Security and Medicare for our seniors and for future generations. It is too bad the media refuses to report on the failed economic policies of Washington liberals and the dependency culture career politicians are creating to expand their political power,” West said in the post.
West opted to run for the new district instead of seeking reelection to his newly redrawn District 22 seat where Democrats now have a 9-point edge. West’s race against Democrat Patrick Murphy is one of the most high-profile Congressional battles in the state.
Murphy’s campaign jumped on West’s Social Security-bashing, pointing out in a press release that residents over the age of 65 make up about 22 percent of District 18.
“Our seniors have worked their whole lives for a safety net that will allow them to retire with dignity, and Allen West is intent on doing anything he can to make it disappear,” Murphy’s campaign manager Anthony Kusich said.
A week ago, West accused President Obama of wanting to enslave Americans with government programs.
“He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave,” West told the crowd at a campaign event in Port St. Lucie.
Republican Mitt Romney is returning to Florida today and renewing accusations that rival Rick Perry is a threat to Social Security.
Romney is scheduled to visit The Villages — a large, Republican-tilted retiree bastion in Central Florida that’s a must stop for GOP candidates. The former Massachusetts governor will be conducting an afternoon town hall-style meeting.
A new video released by the Romney campaign accuses Perry of wanting to end Social Security as a federal program and let the individual states handle senior benefits. Perry said during the last GOP debate he didn’t favor such an idea, only giving state employees the option of enrolling in state-run retirement plans. Click here to see PolitiFact’s take on the dispute.
ORLANDO — Fresh polling data from the retiree bastion of Florida suggests that hammering Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry on Social Security is a good strategy for GOP rival Mitt Romney — if they were running in a general election instead of a Republican presidential primary.
Romney has criticized Perry’s stance on Social Security in the last two Republican debates and continued to blast the Texan on the issue Wednesday on the eve of tonight’s nationally televised GOP debate here.
A Quinnipiac University poll released this morning shows Perry leading Romney among Florida GOP voters by a 28-to-22 percent margin. The poll shows Perry’s Social Security views aren’t popular with Floridians as a whole, but aren’t hurting him with Republicans.
Perry’s characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” for younger workers is called unfair by 58 percent of all Floridians, with only 33 percent calling it fair.
Among Republicans, however, 52 percent say “Ponzi scheme” is a fair way to describe Social Security and its long-term financing issues.
MIAMI — There were several mentions of Ronald Reagan this morning when Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romneyheld a town hall-style meeting with about 80 people at a hotel ballroom.
Gipper references are common in GOP primary settings. Not so common are approving mentions of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the New Deal architect who plays a heavy in Republican frontrunner Rick Perry‘s book Fed Up.
Romney managed both while taking a swipe at Perry’s Social Security stance.
“Ronald Reagan… was a believer in Social Security,” Romney said. “I believe in Social Security. There are tens of millions of Americans who rely upon Social Security to meet their needs. I want to protect it. I want to save it. I want to make sure that it’s there for coming generations. I think it’s a good thing. I don’t think everything that comes out of Democrats is good. But this came out of FDR, I think it’s pretty darn good. And I’m going to make sure, like Ronald Reagan, we keep it.”
Former Utah Gov. and Republican White House aspirant Jon Huntsman‘s reference to Gen X troubadour Kurt Cobain fell flat during Monday’s GOP debate in Tampa.
Now Huntsman is launching an appeal for 18- to 35-year-old “GenH” voters with Jeb Bush Jr. as chairman.
Huntsman’s campaign today announced the GenH program has 139 campus chapters in 42 states and is “the most broad-based youth program in the Republican field.”
Romney's "No Apology"
During a discussion of Social Security in Monday’s CNN/Tea Party Express debate, Huntsman mentioned rival Mitt Romney‘s 2010 book No Apology and quipped: “I don’t know if that was written by Kurt Cobain or not.”
The allusion to All Apologies, a Cobain-penned song that charted for Nirvana in 1993, did not seem to register with the other GOP candidates or the tea party audience.
Grunge icon Cobain died in an apparent suicide in 1994, the year Romney ran as a moderate Republican against Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts.
TAMPA — Before eight Republican presidential hopefuls take the stage here tonight for a CNN/Tea Party Express debate, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was here to offer a “prebuttal” to the event.
“Tonight the Republicans will worship at the altar of the tea party. They will continue to try to out-extreme and out-right wing each other. They will continue to ask nothing of the wealthiest and most fortunate Americans,” said Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman from Broward County.
Asked about Republican frontrunner Rick Perry and his contention that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” for younger workers, Wasserman Schultz said, “I just don’t see how someone with his radical point of view is going to get a lot of mainstream support here in Florida. This is a right-down-the-middle state.”
After last week’s Rick Perry-Mitt Romney Social Security dustup, Republican presidential candidates are set to debate again in Tampa tonight. The Democratic National Committee is welcoming them to senior-heavy Florida with a video blasting Perry and Romney and the rest of the GOP field on Social Security and Medicare.
“Now they’re coming to Florida – where millions of seniors rely on Social Security and Medicare to survive,” the narrator says. “The Republican field: a gamble seniors can’t afford.”
The report projects Medicare will only be able to provide 90 percent of promised benefits beginning in 2024 and Social Security will only be able to deliver 75 percent of promised benefits beginning in 2036 unless fixes are made for both programs.
ORLANDO — In asking a question about abortion at a Republican Senate candidates forum today, conservative Tampa radio host Bill Bunkley veered from the usual moral arguments into a discussion of the U.S. labor force, illegal immigration, the future solvency of Social Security and the changing demographics of Europe.
Here’s Bunkley’s preamble:
“Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, most estimates put the number of aborted unborn children in America around 50 million. Arguably, that loss has been one of the contributing factors leading to an ongoing shortage of available domestic workers, and practically speaking, workers who would have filled the gap of jobs held by illegal aliens and by workers who would have been contributing to provide financial resources for the future Social Security and Medicaid payments. In Europe we are witnessing the impact of long-term declining growth rates that will soon change the face of many of their countries.”
Then Bunkley asked the candidates’ positions on abortion and the recent vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
In their answers, Adam Hasner, George LeMieux, Mike McCalister and Craig Miller all proclaimed themselves opposed to abortion and steered clear of matters like immigration and Social Security
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio delivered an “eat-your-peas” speech Wednesday to fellow Republicans from the dais of the state House where he served as speaker a few years back.
The West Miami Republican, sent to Washington last fall with heavy tea party backing, said Medicare and Social Security spending is unsustainable. And the federal government’s $1.5 trillion deficit must be harnessed, Rubio told state lawmakers gathered in the House chambers.
But Rubio also conceded, “we have a political process in Washington that is frozen.”
Rubio, speaker from 2007-08, drew a lot of love from the Republicans, who later lined up for photos with him. He also returned the schmooze, saying he didn’t envy their task of trying to balance a state budget rocked by at least a $3.6 billion shortfall.
“State governments don’t have the luxury of printing money,” Rubio acknowledged, later adding, “The day of reckoning comes a lot quicker at the state level.”
Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio says he favors no changes to Social Security for current recipients or for those 55 and older and approaching retirement. But to improve the program’s long-term solvency, Rubio says he’s open to eventually raising the retirement age and changing the way annual benefit increases are calculated for those who are now younger than 55.
So the Rubio camp says indie rival Charlie Crist is “blatantly lying” in this video shot today at a senior center in Ocala when he tells retirees that Rubio wants to cut “your” benefits.
Read the Crist campaign’s explanation after the jump….
Bush lost a close 1994 challenge to Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles. Crist, then a Republican state Senator, chaired hearings in 1995 that helped reveal that the Chiles campaign had authorized thousands of phone calls from phony groups to seniors claiming that Bush opposed Social Security and Medicare.
“Charlie Crist used to believe that scaring seniors to win votes was wrong. I know this first-hand because in 1995 he spoke out forcefully in my defense when the very same kind of false attacks were made against me,” Bush said in a statement today.
Crist campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said there’s an important difference between the Chiles attacks of 1994 and Crist’s new ad.
Indie Senate candidate Charlie Crist’s new 30-second ad says Republican frontrunner Marco Rubio’s Social Security plan calls for seniors to “work longer, get by on less.” Then, although Rubio has never held federal office, the ad reaches for some anti-Washington mojo by saying: “That’s Washington for you — balance the budget on the backs of seniors.”
Rubio, eyeing Social Security’s long-term solvency problems, has said Congress should explore raising the retirement age and changing the way benefits are indexed for inflation — but he says any changes should not apply to current beneficiaries or anyone who’s now 55 and older.