Hello Ernst and Ryan; Goodbye Social Security and Medicare

Joni Ernst is in serious trouble in her Iowa senate race. Paul Ryan really wants to be president. So when Ryan comes to Iowa to campaign for Ernst tomorrow, everybody’s a winner!

Except Iowans.

Paul Ryan pioneered plans to privatize Social Security and slash Medicare, and Joni Ernst was his number one cheerleader. Ernst said “Ryan is a do-er, especially on budget issues,” and she gleefully voted to endorse his budget in the Iowa Senate. She’s voiced her support for privatizing Social Security on the campaign while refusing to offer any details, and claimed that Medicaid recipients “have no personal responsibility for their health,” another program that would be gutted by Ryan’s budgets.

Joni Ernst is a fringe candidate, and it shows in the company she keeps and the people she admires. She’s thanked the Koch brothers for “starting her trajectory.” She said she was flattered to be compared to Sarah Palin because Palin is the kind of politician she admires. She appeared with Ted Cruz, who said there was no candidate he was more excited about across the country than Ernst. And now she’s campaigning with anti-retirement crusader, Paul Ryan, who she calls a “do-er.”

Joni Ernst doesn’t want Iowans to believe that she’s extreme. But facts are facts. Ernst and Ryan want to privatize Social Security and roll back Medicare. That’s pretty extreme.

Background:

2011: Ernst Voted To Support Ryan Budget Medicare And Medicaid Provisions, Which Included Voucherizing Medicare And Raising The Retirement Age

Voted To Support Ryan Budget Medicare Provisions That Would Privatize The Program And Raise The Eligibility Age

2011: Ernst Voted To Support The FY 2012 Ryan Budget Provisions On Medicare And Medicaid. In June 2011, Ernst voted against a Senate resolution opposing the Ryan budget. According to the text of the resolution, “WHEREAS, the United States House of Representatives has recently adopted House Concurrent Resolution 34 encompassing the budget proposal of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan which would make fundamental changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs, profoundly impacting individuals and states in contravention of this original intent […] BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE, That the Senate respectfully expresses its opposition to the budget proposal encompassed in House Concurrent Resolution and any proposals to change the Medicare or Medicaid programs that are projected to lead to fewer Americans, especially those most vulnerable due to age, disability, or poverty, being able to obtain or retain health care coverage.” The resolution was agreed to in the Senate, by a vote of 26 to 21, and it was adopted later than month. [Senate Resolution 15, 6/27/11; Journal of the Senate, 6/27/11]

2012: Ernst Said Ryan Was A “Doer, Especially On Budget Issues.” According to the Omaha World-Herald, “Republican State Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak said she’s excited by the Ryan pick. ‘I think it’s going to energize a lot of people,’ she said. ‘Ryan is a doer, especially on budget issues.’” [Omaha World-Herald, 8/14/12]

FY 2012 Ryan Budget Replaced Medicare With A Premium Support Plan. The FY 2012 Ryan Budget replaced Medicare with a premium support plan, as part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021. According to the Congressional Research Service, “Under the new system, Medicare would pay a portion of the beneficiaries’ premiums, i.e., provide ‘premium support.’ The payments would be adjusted for age, health status, and income and would be paid directly by the government to the insurance plan selected by the Medicare beneficiary. In addition, plans with healthier enrollees, would be required to help subsidize plans with less healthy enrollees.” The vote was on a motion to proceed to consider the resolution; the motion failed by a vote of 40 to 57. [Senate Vote 77, 5/25/11; CRS, 4/13/11]

  • Ryan’s Budget Eliminated Traditional Medicare And Created A Medicare Exchange On Which Seniors Could Purchase Private Plans. According to CRS, “Individuals who become eligible (based either on age or disability) for Medicare in 2022 and later years would not be able to enroll in the current Medicare program. Instead, they would be given the option of enrolling in a private insurance plan through a newly established Medicare exchange.” [CRS, 4/13/11]

FY 2012 Ryan Budget Raised The Medicare Eligibility Age To 67 By 2033. The FY 2012 Ryan Budget increased Medicare eligibility to 67 by 2034, as part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed budget resolution covering fiscal years 2012 to 2021. According to CBO, “Starting in 2022, the age of eligibility for Medicare would increase by two months per year until it reached 67 in 2033.” The vote was on a motion to proceed to consider the resolution; the motion failed by a vote of 40 to 57. [Senate Vote 77, 5/25/11; CBO, 4/5/11] 

Ernst Supported Social Security Privatization

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 Supported Privatizing Social Security By Shifting Younger Workers To Personal Savings Accounts. According to a recording of the Iowa State University College Republicans Senate Forum, state Sen. Joni Ernst said, “Yes thank you, I’d like to go back to the tort reform, and say that this year I did sponsor two tort reform bills in the Iowa State Senate. But we say, see how far that has gotten in the Iowa State Senate with our Senate Democrats in control. So there is, there is an answer out there, but we have to work together to find it. Um Back to social security. We have to keep the promise that has been made to our seniors, and those that are approaching that age where they will belong to Social Security. We have made that promise. We need to make sure we are keeping that promise. However, I do know that this is absolutely unsustainable. And so what I would like to see, and what we need to have further discussions on is transitioning our younger workers, those that are just going into the workforce, into perhaps a personal savings account, and something that cannot be raided by our federal government. Um, so, first we have to ensure that we are keeping our promises as we’ve have made them, and second we have to look at finding a way for our younger workers to move into their own savings account, so that when they are retirement age, it will be there for them.” [Iowa State University College Republicans Senate Forum, 4/2/14]

Telegraph Herald: Braley Supported Making Minor Adjustments To Social Security While Ernst Supported Personal Retirement Accounts. According to Telegraph Herald, “Bruce Braley, northeast Iowa’s U.S. representative and the Democratic candidate for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, has campaigned on Social Security recently, discussing the program with residents in 11 cities. Braley advocates for preserving Social Security, making only minor adjustments. His opponent, Republican Joni Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak, believes something must be done to sustain the program long term. She has said she is open to allowing individuals to invest instead in personal retirement accounts.” [Telegraph Herald, 7/3/14] 

Ernst Refused To Give Specifics On Social Security Privatization

Ernst Said She Was Not Extreme On Social Security. According to Des Moines Register, “Asked about Democrats calling her ‘extreme’ on issues such as Social Security, Ernst said: ‘Oh, for heaven’s sake, I am not extreme, I will tell you that. I see that we have an issue with Social Security. … We can’t bury our heads in the sand.’ Ernst said her parents are on Social Security right now, and she believes the nation needs to keep its promises to seniors. ‘Whatever form that it’s in, we have to make sure that it’s there for our children and grandchildren,’ she said. Asked if she would change the retirement age, she said she’d have to look further into that.” [Des Moines Register, 7/29/14]

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]

Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier: Ernst Did Not Respond To Multiple Requests For Comment On Her Position On Social Security Privatization. According to Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, “Ernst, a state senator from Red Oak, states on her campaign website that the program should be ‘preserved and protected’ for seniors today and tomorrow, but she supports reforms that will strengthen Social Security in the long term. Several media outlets have characterized her stance at debates as proposing that younger generations invest in ‘personal savings accounts’ when she has been asked about the issue. The Ernst campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment.” [Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier, 7/1/14]

Daily Iowan: Ernst Refused To Respond To Requests For Comment On Her Position On Social Security Privatization. According to Daily Iowan, “Democrats said Ernst’s plan involves embracing private accounts for young workers paying into Social Security. On Ernst’s campaign site, she said she ‘opposes any efforts to change the promised benefits for today’s seniors.’ Representatives of Ernst’s campaign declined to comment.” [Daily Iowan, 7/1/14]