Sharron Angle, the far right GOP senate candidate in Nevada, has been trying to fight off claims that she wants to privatize Social Security ever since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), her opponent in the race, ran an ad quoting Angle saying, “We need to phase Medicare and Social Security out.”
Fox & Friends tried to help Angle with that effort yesterday morning, with host Steve Doocy calling it “misinformation.” Later, Angle appeared again on the friendly network for another softball interview. This time, host Sean Hannity asked her simply to react to Reid’s ad. Angle again said it’s “nonsense” that she wants to privatize Social Security and Medicare. But moments later, she reiterated that it’s what she’d like to do “going forward”:
ANGLE: Well, it’s nonsense. I want to save Medicare and Social Security. I’d like to put some of that money back in the lockbox that he has raided and put an IOU in. He’s 20 years to fix Social Security and Medicare. And what we have is an empty lockbox.
And what we need is to make our senior citizens feel secure once more with their own Social Security and Medicare. But going forward we need to personalize that program in a way that the government can’t go in and raid it any more.
Angle seems to be trying to weasel her way out of her Social Security privatization position by simply rebranding it: “personalization.” But there is no difference. This is exactly what President Bush and congressional Republicans tried to do back in 2005 during their unpopular push to privatize Social Security, but even Bush himself slipped up on the messaging occasionally:
Bush and his supporters have started using “personal accounts” instead of “private accounts” to refer to his plan to let younger workers invest part of their payroll taxes in stocks and bonds. Republican officials have begun calling journalists to complain about references to “private accounts,” even though Bush called them that three times in a speech last fall.
Indeed, pollsters, marketing experts, and communication consultants told the GOP at the time to “promote the ‘personalization’ of Social Security, suggesting ownership and control, rather than ‘privatization.’” And in fact, one such pollster was none other than Republican messaging guru Frank Luntz, who urged the GOP, “PLEASE, remember that you are NEVER talking about privatizing Social Security. … You are talking about creating PERSONAL retirement accounts.” “Personalizing Social Security has a 17% higher favorability rating than privatizing it,” he wrote.
Whether it’s “going forward” or “phasing out,” either way, Angle wants to privatize Social Security — a position she actually has outlined on her campaign website.
Angle told the National Review that she is “not opposed to personal accounts,” adding, “I think Paul Ryan has some proposals on the table that I think have some merit” — or in other words, a plan for private accounts.