Bob Turner, the Republican congressman from the New York seat once held by Democrat Anthony Weiner, won in part by running against the national GOP agenda on entitlements. He said explicitly that he would vote against the House GOP’s Medicare-privatizing budget plan, a stance that would separate him from the entire House Republican caucus. Turner’s own website even claimed that he wants to “strengthen and preserve” programs like Social Security and Medicare.
However, in an interview given to a radio program shortly before the election, Turner took a different approach. At one point, he said the Medicare retirement age should be changed and there should be higher co-pays. A few minutes later, he seemed to endorse the idea that Social Security is simply a welfare program for the poor. The host, Karen Jenelle, confused Bush’s privatization plan with her own idea of completely opting out of Social Security (which would unravel and destroy Social Security’s ability to continue as a retirement program):
JENELLE: I’m still for Bush’s plan for keeping the money for myself. You know, being able to opt out of it. Clearly the government cannot manage money to begin with. For them to just feel entitled to a significant percentage of my paycheck every single time I get one and they are going to be able to save it or spend it better than I can, is offensive to me. Let’s call Social Security what it really is, it’s another program that really aids the poor. That’s what it is for the most part.
TURNER: Uh, true!
TURNER: You are on the right side of the great divide. [...]
PORTER: The truth is, back in the good old days when there was no Social Security, we took care of our own parents. They lived with us and that sort of thing.
So-called campaign watchdogs like FactCheck.org smeared critics of Turner by claiming that Turner’s own website proved that he supported strengthening entitlements. Instead of reading websites that are typically created by outside political consultants, the fact checkers at FactCheck.org should have actually listened to Turner’s own words.