A handful of seniors were not happy with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s remarks on Social Security, so they gathered their friends and brought some signs and a guitar to a protest outside her North Haven headquarters Monday.
McMahon and most of her staff weren’t there. They were in Danbury receiving an endorsement from U.S. Sen. John McCain. But that didn’t matter to the senior citizens determined to make sure drivers along the busy Route 5 were aware of what was going on.
“Social Security for years to come, not just for me,” Mary Elia chanted as she shook her sign.
Elia, who helped organize the rally Monday, said McMahon is hiding some of her positions and it’s not getting much attention.
This is the second time McMahon has run for the U.S. Senate, but the first time she’s been willing to talk about entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. Polls show her in a neck-and-neck battle with three-term Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy.
Last week the Huffington Post uploaded a video from a Tea Party gathering in April where McMahon suggested including a Social Security “sunset provision.”
“We cannot continue doing things the way we are doing with Social Security. We’re just simply going to be bankrupt,” McMahon said in April. “And I do believe that, that there are ways to look at, you know, what we’re trying to do when we put Social Security in place? We didn’t go back and review it. In other words, I believe in sunset provisions when we pass this kind of legislation, so that you take a look at it 10, 15 years down the road to make sure that it’s still going to fund itself.”
But Social Security already is the subject of annual reviews, which makes even more confusing McMahon’s comments about setting what her spokesman has called “checkpoints“ for the program.
“Linda McMahon stands for getting rid of Social Security, I believe, because that‘s what sunset means,” Elia said. “A sunset means we’ll end it and think about doing it again.”
She said in the 1980s they tweaked the program because they knew a large number of baby boomers were coming, and they wanted to make sure the fund was solvent as the Social Security rolls swelled.
“It’s unfortunate that people are being deceived by Chris Murphy’s misrepresentation of Linda McMahon’s positions on Social Security and Medicare,” Todd Arbajano, McMahon’s spokesman, said Monday. “Linda won’t vote for a budget that cuts Social Security or Medicare.”
Asked if she would consider privatizing Social Security, Abrajano said, “no.” When it comes to any consideration of turning Medicare into a voucher system, the responses from the McMahon campaign have varied. But immediately following the announcement of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as the vice presidential pick, McMahon’s campaign manager released a statement saying “Linda McMahon will never support a budget that cuts Medicare.”
“There’s a recognition those programs need to be reformed,” Abrajano said. “But her remarks are being taken out of context by Chris Murphy.”
He said all McMahon was referring to when she said the word “sunset” was a recognition that those programs have to be looked at in order to maintain the necessary level of funding.
“She is not supporting ending or phasing out those programs,” Abrajano said.
Elia said ending Social Security or turning it into a 401K-type program says to people, “maybe you’ll have something, maybe you won’t.”
Betty Marafino of West Hartford pointed out that Social Security benefits are not only for seniors, but they also serve the disabled and children.
Marafino said that when Alan Simpson said we’re “greedy geezers,” that’s not true.
“I have four children and 9 grandchildren and I want to preserve Social Security for them,” Marafino said.
Marafino said she doesn’t think McMahon and the Republicans are being vague about their stance on Social Security.
“I think her view and the view of many Republicans is ‘let’s privatize it,’” Marafino said. “This is one thing they want to get their hands on to privatize.”
Bill Collins of New Haven joined the protest and brought along his guitar to try out his new song on the group.
Click the play button below to watch his performance.