FDR signed the Social Security legislation Aug. 14, 1935. Republicans hated it then and now and Democrats have never ceased using it as a campaign tool, precisely because of its popularity. Like today, on its 79th birthday.
* MIKE ROSS: The Democratic gubernatorial candidate lauded Social Security today and called on Republican opponent Asa Hutchinson to repudiate his past support for privatization. It was an idea so bad that even George W. Bush, at the peak of his popularity, couldn’t sell it. Good thing. People’s elder years could have been wrecked by the false promise of savings accounts and self-directed “social security.” Hutchinson people think it’s desperate to bring up Asa’s past positions on Social Security. It’s desperately telling that that’s all they’ve got in response. Republicans HATE Social Security, but generally don’t have the guts to admit it. Good example: Hutchinson issued a statement criticizing Ross for bringing up Social Security but avoiding a statement on privatization.
* EVEN WORSE: Tom Cotton doesn’t just want to end Social Security as we know it, he’s targeted the disabled, too. He joined with a Tea Partyer, Sam Graves, to co-sponsor legislation to make it harder for people to qualify for Social Security disability payments. The meanest little wrinkle in this trick bag was to give EMPLOYERS tax credits if they had a low rate of people filing for disability. Imagine what abuses that could encouarge. The legislation hasn’t gone anywhere. Yet. Some 175,000 Arkansans are either disabled workers or spouses or children disabled workers.
* MARK PRYOR: The Democratic senator noted Republican opponent Tom Cotton’s rich and indelible opposition to Social Security (and Medicare) as those programs have traditionally been understood. Cotton alone among Arkansas Republicans backed a House Republican budget that would wreck Social Security as a guaranteed safety net for seniors. That proposal would have raised the retirement age to 70. The Social Security cuts would have paid for a tax break for billionaires (who happen to support Cotton with campaign contributions). He’s made clear he wants to move Social Security to a privatized system. That might soothe those oldsters exempted from the change, but it would still do damage to millions in the future. (CORRECTION: There I went again, using the wrong first name for Mark Pryor.)
* FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasted Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford on Social Security. It says he, too, is a privatizer. In 2010, he signed radio host Laura Ingraham’s “10 for 10” Pledge, which would let young workers divert Social Security payments into retirement accounts. Another version of the Bush privatizing scheme. Democrat Jackie McPherson is opposing Crawford.
* SECOND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: No news release in yet, but you can bet Democrat Patrick Henry Hays is a supporter of traditional Social Security. Hell, he’s eligible. And there’s this: Millionaire banker J. French Hill, the Republican candidate for 2nd District Congress, was a proud bankroller and founder of the conservative think tank known as the Arkansas Policy Institute. Why care? Well, one of its early efforts was a paper about welfare program cost in 1993 and the need to do something about them. That paper lumped Social Security benefits into the cost of federal “welfare” programs. Social Security is welfare? That’s a fighting word to the working people who’ve paid taxes in a sufficient number of working years to qualify for payments in retirement based on their contributions. Welfare indeed.