Happy Birthday!

Seventy-nine years ago today President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law, marking a new page in our nation’s history that attempted to rid the widespread problem of Americans spending their golden years trapped in poverty.

Fast forward forty five years later. David Koch runs for Vice President on a Libertarian ticket that calls Social Security – already at that time a wildly successful program that has helped millions – “the most serious threat to the future stability of our society next to the threat of nuclear war.”

Today? The Republican Party, fully embracing a hard right, extreme Tea Party, Koch-fueled agenda, runs a docket of Senate candidates who would make cuts to or have otherwise attacked Social Security. While Americans old and young continue to cherish the promise of retiring with some stability, Republican Senate candidates have made their priorities clear — and protecting their Koch cash-flow comes long before protecting your retirement.

These GOPers are coming at it from every angle. Some, like Tom Cotton and Cory Gardner, have voted to raise the eligibility age from 65 to 70, because what’s five more years of work when you’re sitting pretty in your taxpayer-funded job? Some candidates, like David Perdue, Mike McFadden and Monica Wehby, have offered nebulous support for cuts, because plans and details are hard (and voters clearly might not like to hear what they really think). Terri Lynn Land and Joni Ernst haven’t spent time in Congress yet, but they sure are keen on privatizing the program. Mainstream? Not hardly.

And then, of course, you have your Mitch McConnells of the world — the wise elders who have spent a lifetime fighting to scale back Social Security in every way, shape and form. After all, who needs Social Security when you’re sitting on millions and getting paid $174,000 to work 150 days a year?

So happy 79th birthday to Social Security. Here’s to a Democratic Senate, and in turn, to many more healthy years!

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Wehby Advocated Trimming Social Security Spending But Lacked A Specific Plan. According to the Oregonian, “Wehby says Congress needs to figure out how to trim the future costs of Social Security and Medicare, the two big entitlement programs. But she’s vague on how. ‘I can’t give you specifics,’ she says. ‘All options have to be on the table. … For those of us who are coming up, who are younger, we need to consider a different approach of how to make these programs solvent.’” [Oregonian, 5/2/14]

Wehby Advocated Trimming Social Security Spending But Lacked A Specific Plan. According to the Oregonian, “Wehby says Congress needs to figure out how to trim the future costs of Social Security and Medicare, the two big entitlement programs. But she’s vague on how. ‘I can’t give you specifics,’ she says. ‘All options have to be on the table. … For those of us who are coming up, who are younger, we need to consider a different approach of how to make these programs solvent.’” [Oregonian, 5/2/14]

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Perdue Supported Cutting Social Security Benefits For Future Beneficiaries. According to the Marietta Daily Journal, “Perdue’s solution is honoring the obligations to anyone already receiving Social Security benefits, but changing the benefits for anyone coming into the workforce. ‘Their deal is going to have to be different,’ he said. Perdue would make the same changes to Medicare.” [Marietta Daily Journal, 2/16/14]

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McFadden Suggested Cutting Social Security. According to Politics In Minnesota, “We need to look at cutting spending, and there are a couple of areas we look at. … The other thing is these senior entitlement programs, specifically Social Security and Medicare.” [Politics In Minnesota, 7/17/13]

McFadden Supported Raising The Retirement Age For Social Security. According to the Associated Press, “A major field of debate between Franken and his opponent is likely to be how to reduce the national debt. McFadden said Congress has to tackle the costs of Social Security and Medicare, and he suggested one way could be raising the eligibility age of 65 for both programs. ‘Not for people near the retirement age now — that’s not fair because they don’t have time to change their planning,’ McFadden said. ‘But it seems to me that some conversation around some age, and below, that the age upon which you receive these benefits would increase. The logic behind this would be that the mortality rate has gone up since those programs were created.’” [Associated Press, 7/23/13]

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1998: McConnell Voted For Private Social Security Accounts.  On April 1, 1998, McConnell voted for a Roth (R-Delaware) amendment expressing the Senate’s support for establishing private personal retirement accounts.  Personal private accounts would weaken Social Security’s guaranteed benefits and replace them with perilous investment accounts.  The amendment passed 51 to 49, was attached to S.Con.Res.86, which passed the Senate 57 to 41. [Senate Vote 56, 04/01/98]

McConnell Effectively Voted For Raising The Social Security Eligibility Age To 70 And To 64 For Early Retirement. In May 2012, McConnell effectively voted for raising the Social Security eligibility age to 70 and to 64 for early retirement, as part of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2022. According to the Congressional Record, the resolution stated “It is the policy of this concurrent resolution that Congress and the relevant committees of jurisdiction enact legislation to ensure the Social Security System achieves solvency over the 75 year window as follows: […] The normal retirement age will increase by 3 months each year starting with individuals reaching age 62 in 2017 and stopping with the normal retirement age reaches the age of 70 for individuals reaching the age of 62 in 2032. The earliest eligibility age will be increased by 3 months per year starting with individuals reaching age 62 in 2021 and will stop with the reaches age 64 for individuals reaching the age 62 in 2028 or later.” The vote was on a motion to proceed to consider the resolution; the motion failed by a vote of 16 to 83. [Senate Vote 100, 5/16/12; Congressional Record, 4/26/12]

2013: McConnell Voted To Index The Social Security Full Retirement And Early Retirement Ages To Life Expectancy, With The Early Retirement Age Rising To 64 By 2028. In March 2013, McConnell voted for raising the Social Security eligibility age, as part of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2013 to 2023. According to Sen. Rand Paul’s A Clear Vision to Revitalize America, “This budget calls for us to adjust for the increasing age of the population by adopting longevity indexing for future generations. […] In 2011, we proposed a Social Security reform that included such bi-partisan proposals such as longevity indexing and means testing the benefits for upper-income individuals. In that proposal, the full benefit retirement age would have slowly increased by three months every calendar year until the full age of retirement hits age 70. This would only impact individuals who are born after 1970. In addition, the early retirement age would slowly increase from 62 to 64. […] The early retirement benefits provided in this proposal, even after increasing the age to 64, are actually better than what was provided at the program’s inception in 1935. […] By 2028, the time this proposal’s early retirement age is in full effect, the life expectancy for an American adult will be over 80 years old. Instead of providing early retirement benefits for just a few years, this plan continues to provide benefits to early retirees for more than 16 years.” The vote was on an amendment to the Senate budget resolution replacing the entire budget with Paul’s proposed budget; the Senate rejected the amendment by a vote of 18 to 81. [Senate Vote 69,3/22/13; A Clear Vision to Revitalize America, 3/22/13]

2013: McConnell Reported That His Family Owned Assets Worth Between $11,972,053 And $48,830,000, And Took Unearned Income Worth Between $52,118 And $160,500. In 2013, McConnell reported that his family owned assets worth between $11,972,053 and $48,830,000. The assets were spread among several dozen investment accounts, including bond funds, mutual funds, and money market funds. The majority of McConnell’s income came from a joint Vanguard Tax Exempt Money Market Fund that he jointly owns with his spouse. McConnell also unearned income worth between $52,118 and $160,500 from interest, dividends, capital gains and income from excepted investment funds. [Personal Financial Disclosure, “Part IIIA. Publicly Traded Assets and Unearned Income Sources,” Secretary of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, 2013]

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2013: Gardner Voted To Raise The Social Security Eligibility Age To 70. In March 2013, Gardner voted to support raising the Social Security eligibility age, as part of the Republican Study Committee’s proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2014 to 2023. According to the Republican Study Committee, “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full retirement age for individuals born in 1962 (currently 51) and after to an eventual full retirement age of 70.” The vote was on an amendment to the House budget resolution replacing the entire budget with the RSC’s proposed budget; the amendment failed by a vote of 104 to 132 with 171 Democrats voting present. According to Congressional Quarterly, “Repeating a strategy from last year, 171 Democrats voted ‘present’ to push Republicans to vote against the RSC plan to make sure it did not have enough support to replace the Ryan plan.” [House Vote 86, 3/21/13; Republican Study Committee, 3/18/13; Congressional Quarterly, 3/25/13]

2012: Gardner Voted To Raise The Social Security Eligibility Age To 70. In March, 2012 Gardner voted to support raising the Social Security eligibility age, as part of the Republican Study Committee’s proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2013 to 2022. According to the Republican Study Committee, “Specifically, we propose slowly increasing full retirement age to 70 years. This would be accomplished by increasing the full-retirement age in two‐month‐per‐ year increments for workers currently under 55 years old. Specifically, this proposal would increase the full retirement age to 66 years and 2 months starting with those born in 1958. Then, the full retirement age would increase in two‐month increments per year, reaching 67 for those born in 1963 or later. For those born in 1978 or later, the full retirement age would remain at 70 years old.” The vote was on an amendment to the House budget resolution replacing the entire budget with the RSC’s proposed budget; the amendment failed by a vote of 136 to 285. [House Vote 149, 3/29/12; Republican Study Committee, 3/12]

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Ernst Supported “Transitioning” Younger Workers From Social Security To Personal Savings Accounts That Could Include Investments In The Stock Market. According to a debate prompt about Social Security answered by state Sen. Joni Ernst, “I do believe that we have to keep the promises that’ve been made to our seniors and those that are getting close to Medicare, those–Social Security, we’ve made those promises already. However, we do need to look at younger workers as they are working their way towards that Social Security age. Those younger workers that are entering the workforce now–James, this would be you–but, entering the workforce, transitioning them into perhaps a personal savings account. And again, something that cannot be raided by federal bureaucrats. It is their own savings account. Whether it’s tied to the market, whether it is an interest-bearing savings account, those are some things that we need to have discussions on. But absolutely, I agree, we have to change our mandatory spending.” [KWQC, 5/19/14]

Ernst Refused To Provide Specifics On Her Plan To Privatize Social Security. According to WHOTV, “Ernst wants to allow people to invest part of their social security retirement savings in the stock market as a way to potentially earn more money and reduce the burden on the country’s safety net system. However, she couldn’t provide specifics on what percentage of those benefits she would allow people to invest or at what age she would guarantee the current system’s benefits. Ernst said, ‘I would have to look further into that. But we know that we have to come up with those solutions. And these are some solutions that I would look for when I’m the next United States senator.’” [WHOTV, 7/28/14]