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Toomey Admits Favoring Privatization of Social Security

Toomey Admits Favoring Privatization of Social Security

Scranton Seniors Call Out Wall Street’s Congressman for Deceiving Voters, Risking Retirement Security

MEDIA, Pa. — On Friday, Congressman Toomey finally owned up to the fact that he wants to privatize Social Security, after weeks of actively trying to deny it. In an interview with National Public Radio, Toomey was asked if he favors privatizing Social Security, and his response was, “Yeah, and the thing, you know, I’ve always objected to the term privatize because it conjures up very misleading notions, I think, for a lot of people.” [WHYY, Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, 10/1/2010] Listen here:

Speaking at the Downtown Senior Center in Scranton today, U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak responded to Toomey’s remarks on NPR.

“It is critical that we protect and preserve Social Security as well as take steps to ensure its solvency for future generations,” said Joe. “I stand in stark contrast to my opponent on this issue.  Congressman Toomey believes that Wall Street is the answer to everything, but this is no time to gamble with Pennsylvanians’ retirement security. Voters need to understand what is at stake in this election and Congressman Toomey should level with the voters about his plan to privatize the Social Security system.”

Despite the fact that he’s been on the record at least 36 times arguing in favor of privatizing Social Security and has a whole chapter about privatizing in his book, to which he refers often, Congressman Toomey has tried to distort his scheme for political gain. He made this remarkable claim to an audience at the Pennsylvania Press Club in August: “I’ve never said I favor privatizing Social Security.”

So what’s in the book Toomey wrote?

Clarifies his plan would invest seniors’ retirement savings in the stock market– “Opponents of personal accounts – usually Democrats – have convinced workers that a market based system will sound the death knell for retirement security.  This is awfully silly when you consider that millions of Americans invest in the Market everyday.”  [The Road to Prosperity, p. 132-133]

Explains how financial firms would earn millions in fees from private accounts — “For a very modest fee, a financial services firm provides this service efficiently and seamlessly.  Social Security reform could work the same way.”  [p. 140]

Admits his plan would add to the deficits — “The truth is, personal accounts would lead to larger near-term deficits in the Social Security system, and these deficits should be financed through borrowing.”  [p. 141]

Discusses the risk of investing money in the stock market — “If large American banks had gone into bankruptcy instead of being bailed out by taxpayers, several things would have happened. First, stockholders would have been virtually wiped out.  This is unfortunate but it is the risk inherent in owning stocks.” [p. 200]

Congressman Toomey knows that Pennsylvania, home to the nation’s fourth largest senior population, would not appreciate his plan to:

Threaten more than 20 million seniors, including 700,000 in Pennsylvania, with poverty, by gambling their retirement savings in the stock market. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), 8/11/2010] 
Create “a windfall for Wall Street, generating billions of dollars in management fees for brokerages and mutual fund companies.” [MSNBC, 12/28/2004]

Add $4.9 trillion to the national debt [CBPP, 5/10/2005]

Toomey also won’t be honest about his scheme’s effect on current seniors. If young people take the money that’s supposed to pay for current retirees’ Social Security and they put it on Wall Street instead, that affects our ability to pay current benefits.

Rather than answer questions about his plan to privatize Social Security, Congressman Toomey, like his fellow candidates on the fringe of the Tea Party, has refused to answer questions about his proposal and tried to explain himself as little as possible to voters:

WTIF – Toomey “whisked” away from reporters
“I was hoping to ask Toomey a couple questions about his stance on Social Security – and what he thinks about Democrats’ efforts to use the issue as a scare tactic with voters – but campaign staffers whisked him away after the event, saying he was late for another appearance. The press got two questions in before Toomey was hustled to an SUV, which promptly sped away.” [WTIF, 09/20/10]

Toomey refuses to say what his plan means for middle-age workers
“First of all, Toomey says retirees and those nearing retirement age would get to keep exactly what they have right now. It’s new hires and very young workers would have the choice to choose that personal account. But how about the many millions of workers in between?  Folks in their 30s and 40s and early 50s well, Toomey could not or would not answer what the choice, if any, would be for those folks.” [WTXF, 9/24/10]

MSNBC – Morning Joe – Toomey refers to his book rather than answer Social Security question
Host Joe Scarborough asks Congressman Toomey if he’s willing to raise the social security retirement age to which Toomey responds: “I’ve got a whole chapter in my book in which I specifically lay out how I think we should reform Social Security, and I’d like to see us give young workers the option to accumulate savings.” [MSNBC Morning Joe, 05/26/10]

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