Rapid Response: Toomey Still Supports Social Security Privatization

Toomey’s Admission of Support Comes a Week After Toomey Denies Ever Supporting Privatization

Harrisburg, PA — Just a week after Pat Toomey told reporters that he never supported privatizing Social Security, a claim that’s been roundly disproved, Toomey told a Wall Street Journal reporter that he still supported Social Security privatization, and even “embraces” the idea, but he just wants to call it something different.

“Last week, Pat Toomey was caught in a lie when he tried to claim he never supported Social Security privatization even though he was one of the loudest cheerleaders for President Bush’s privatization scheme,” said Mark Nicastre, spokesman with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “Now, he is reaffirming his support for Social Security privatization, but he knows he has to call it something different because Pennsylvanians have already rejected his plan to put seniors’ retirement savings in the hands of Wall Street bankers. Why won’t Pat Toomey just be honest with Pennsylvanians instead of trying to play word games?”

Today, Pat Toomey told a Wall Street Journal reporter that he “embraces” the idea of privatization and continued by saying, “I’m not backing away from that in the least.”

Democrats are campaigning hard on the Social Security issue against the Republican candidates who have endorsed private accounts. In Pennsylvania, Joe Sestak went after his Republican opponent for the Senate, Pat Toomey, last week. “We don’t want to gamble your benefits on Wall Street,” Mr. Sestak said. “[Former] Congressman Toomey has said he wants to let people take their Social Security and hand it over to Wall Street. That would gut the program.”

Mr. Toomey says he isn’t scared of those attacks. “I totally embrace the idea,” he said in an interview. He said calling the changes he supports “privatization,” as Democrats do, is “just a poll-tested attack term.”

Private accounts make sense for younger workers, Mr. Toomey said. “I’m not backing away from that in the least,” he said. [Wall Street Journal, 9/3/10]

On August 23, Toomey told the Pennsylvania Press Club that “I’ve never said I favor privatizing Social Security.”

But a quick search found 36 instances of Toomey expressing support for Social Security privatization including an article from the Morning Call just three days earlier noting that Toomey was one of the few candidates to not back away from Social Security privatization.

When George W. Bush proposed privatizing Social Security during his presidency, one of the most vocal supporters of the plan was former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey… Toomey has not backed away from the idea, but it’s not a central tenet of his campaign, as it was when he was a House member. [Morning Call, 8/20/10]

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