Democrats Are Using Social Security As A Weapon — Against Other Democrats

Daniel Marans
Reporter, Huffington Post

Democratic Senate candidates in several key races are attacking their opponents for being weak on Social Security. Only this time their opponents are not Republicans — they are Democrats in contentious primaries across the country.

Social Security is an issue of interest to voters in both parties that could play a role in this year’s elections.

But it is also a major front in a war for the soul of the Democratic Party in which the populist, progressive wing is increasingly on the march against the party’s business-friendly elite. And the popularity in this year’s primary season of running against even the slightest openness to Social Security cuts is the latest sign that the former group, sometimes nicknamed the Elizabeth Warren wing, is ascendant.

The campaign of California Senate candidate and state Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) is hinting it will soon play the Social Security card in earnest against her top opponent, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.).

Harris’ campaign points to remarks by Sanchez expressing support for a “grand bargain” to reduce the debt, modeled on the recommendations of the Bowles-Simpson commission, which was appointed by President Barack Obama. Major cuts to Social Security benefits, including raising the retirement age and cutting the cost-of-living adjustment, were among the bipartisan commission’s most controversial proposals.

“I mean, the reality is we do have to take a look at everything,” Sanchez told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly in October 2013, “as Simpson-Bowles did in their report and said, ‘Listen, you have got to put everything on the table — entitlements, defense, everything else.’”

Sanchez added that she is “a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, that’s Democratic fiscal conservatives. And we endorse the Bowles-Simpson plan.”

Sanchez stands by her openness to broker a deal that includes Social Security cuts.

“Loretta understands the pressures involved in tough votes like when she voted against the Wall Street bailout, against the war in Iraq and against the Patriot Act, and she knows that sometimes a vote is a compromise based on what’s on the table,” said Luis Vizcaino, a spokesman for the Sanchez campaign.

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