Some things in life are self-evident. Fire burns, supply side economics doesn't work, and no Democrat, ever, under any circumstances, no matter what, should even think about offering to cut one solitary cent from Social Security, through partial privatization or means testing or raising the retirement age.
Why so many Democrats seem to have to relearn the latter lesson each and every election cycle, is really, truly, mind-boggling. Yes, I know Wall Street, in a way it once wasn't, has become an important source of funding for Democrats. But there are simply some obvious truths candidates (and Wall Street funders) need to come to grips with, and one of them is stay away from Social Security -- unless you're increasing it.
During these final weeks, we have seen this clearly come into focus in a way it hasn't since Third Way wrote a silly Wall Street Journal op-ed and destroyed the leading Democratic candidate to become Pennsylvania governor with the inevitable backlash (she was an honorary co-chair). Fingers on the pulse of the people, these guys possess not.
Now we're seeing a replay. Democrats foolish enough, at the time, to buy into the charade that was Simpson-Bowles, which proposed raising the retirement age, are paying the price. For example, gun-toting conservadem, Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), is being attacked by Republicans for supporting Social Security cuts. How can Republicans do this, you ask, when they want to privatize the whole damn thing if they get their way? Simple, they're shameless, and led in their serial dishonesty by Karl Rove.
Why he is doing this, is pretty simple. People love it (even 6 in 10 conservatives). It polls through the roof. And anyone telling you anything different is trying to sell you something, probably private accounts on Wall Street that would have been blown up with the stock market crash in 2008. Which incidentally is what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted, and was somehow recently dumb enough to say it out loud and since has seen a campaign ad slamming him on it, and his polls numbers begin to fall.
More evidence of this was provided recently by Moveon.org, who conducted a poll showing that a top motivating factor for "drop-off" voters, who vote in presidential years but not midterm elections, is worrying about Republicans in the Senate cutting their Social Security.
The two Senate candidates who have understood this best, and have positioned themselves to win on the issue of Social Security because they're running on not only protecting it, but increasing it, are Rick Weiland of South Dakota and Bruce Braley of Iowa. As the election has closed, a number of Democrats have attacked on this issue, and others have changed past positions to promise there will be no cuts to it whatsoever (smart move Senator Udall, now just come out for increasing it, and you'll close this deal with Social Security cutting, non-Personhood-supporting, Personhood supporter, Mr. Cory Gardner).
But only Braley and Weiland have understood the power this populist position in winning over older white voters that are most often leaning Republican these days, and vote in disproportionately high numbers in midterms. Braley, since he distinctly started running on this issue, has seen himself go from trailing by a number of points to now being in a virtual dead heat with pig castrating, Social Security privatizer Joni Ernst. According to The Washington Post's Greg Sargent:
A national Democratic strategist involved in the Iowa race tells me internal polling shows airing out Ernst's true views on Personhood and Social Security is largely responsible for Braley bringing the race within two points.
Weiland, thought to be an afterthought, campaigned hard on this populist issue, as well as getting money out of politics, and saw himself pull within single digits of scandal-plagued former South-Dakota-Governor-cum-Social Security-privatizer, Mike Rounds. In fact, if one wants to know the power of the issue, just ask former conservative, Republican, South Dakota Senator turned Independent in for race, Larry Pressler. Pressler, who was most recently seen thinking about running for Mayor of where he really lives, Washington, DC, is running for his old Senate seat by trying to lie about his past position of raising the retirement age for Social Security. He even went so far as to accuse a reporter of "misquoting" him, which would have been easier to get away with, if the entire interview hadn't been recorded. Oops.
The only candidate in the South Dakota race consistently in favor of not only protecting Social Security, but increasing it, has been Rick Weiland. Which is the reason why even though he's been outspent by Koch-level money, he is still in this race, poised to potentially pull off a huge upset.
Please let's not have this conversation again in two years. Braley and Weiland have shown the way. Stand up for increasing Social Security in Congress. To quote from a piece I wrote, back when Chained CPI was a thing:
Personally, I would entirely eliminate the income cap, which would allow Social Security to pay full benefits until 2087, but I'm clearly a tax-loving Euro-socialist. You know, like Ronald Reagan.
If Democrats remind Republicans and our news media of this early and often, propose the above and wait for Republicans in the many Dick-Cheney-man-safe-sized pockets of the Koch Brothers to vote against it, you'll see a 2016 landslide of epic proportions.