Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wimpy, Wimpy, Wimpy - Jeb Bradley on Social Security

In 2002, when Jeb Bradley ran for Congress, he said he was against privatizing Social Security. A funny thing happened after he went to Congress. He went from being a moderate Republican state legislator to a conservative Republican Congressman. In 2005, after being elected to a second term, President Bush decided that Social Security "reform" would be the centerpiece of his legacy. Apparently invading a country that was no threat to us, or creating the largest deficit in US history wasn't enough for him. Bush now set his sights on privatizing (destroying) Social Security. He set about getting the faithful aboard the privatization train. Jeb Bradley wasn't leaping on board fast enough, so Bush came to NH for a hit and run visit at Pease International Tradeport. Both of our US Senators were there. Jeb Bradley wasn't invited - to a presidential visit in his district.

Big snub.

The event was billed as a town hall meeting, even though no one was allowed to ask any questions. The event was limited (in true George Bush style) to the party faithful, to ensure no dissent. White House description of the "town hall" meeting to discuss strengthening Social Security. Strengthening is a euphemism, just as privatizing is. What Bush and his cohorts have in mind is dismantling and destroying the most successful anti-poverty program in our nation's history. Jeb Bradley got the message behind that big snub, and began to change his tune about Social Security. At town hall meetings, he discussed the need to have all the options on the table. The only option ever mentioned was Bush's plan. It was hugely unpopular. I know, because I was at most of those town hall meetings. Bradley refused to take a position on Bush's plan. He would not, despite the best efforts of thousands of constituents say whether or not he would protect Social Security from being destroyed. He refused to take a stand, right up to the bitter end. He was on the NHPR show, The Exchange" about a week before election day, and would not make his position clear, even in the face of uncharacteristically strong questioning by Laura Knoy.

The plan to privatize Social Security proved to be extremely unpopular with the voters. Many excuses have been made as to why Jeb Bradley lost the election to grassroots candidate Carol Shea-Porter. The unpopularity of the war, the unpopularity of Bush, etc. I believe that one of the great unsung reasons for the Bradley loss was his non-stance on Social Security. Carol Shea-Porter ran a better, stronger campaign that flew under the wire. UNH poll meister Andy Smith never gave Shea-Porter a chance. On election day, he was on NHPR predicting a big victory for Bradley. You may have noticed his polling shows the same kind of results this time. I'm not sure why we should take any poll with a 6% margin of error very seriously.

Bradley's been off the radar for the last two years. During that time, NH has voted in a civil union law (Bradley was against any kind of legitimizing for same gender relationships), voted to refuse to participate in the REAL ID program (Bradley voted for it). Things are changing in NH. Has Bradley learned from his loss? Has he listened to the winds of change?

This video: WMUR Commitment 2008 may provide an answer to that question. The video is both of the NH-01 GOP primary candidates answering the question, "What will you do to protect Social Security?" Bradley doesn't tell us. We learn that his children will be of retirement age when Social Security goes bankrupt. Given Jeb's multi-million dollar stock portfolio, it's unlikely that the kids will be worried about eating cat food or living under bridges when they're old. What Jeb tells us is not his position on protecting Social Security. Instead of taking a stand, he tells us we need to have a discussion on increasing the returns of the money we put into Social Security. What a wimp. What a wimpy, fraidy-cat answer. Bradley isn't brave enough to take a stand in favor of privatization, knowing how unpopular it would be with voters - so he wimps out on answering at all.

Imagine if Bush and company had gotten their way, and turned the Social Security Trust Fund over to Wall St? How might things be looking today for NH seniors?

One thing is certain. We can't rely on Jeb Bradley to protect Social Security. We can't even rely on him for a straight answer.

No comments: