Thursday marked the 79th anniversary of the signing of Social Security and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mike Ross used the occasion to assail Republican Asa Hutchinson’s congressional record.
“If Congressman Hutchinson had had his way in Congress the fate of Arkansas seniors would have been very different. Congressman Hutchinson not only supports privatizing Social Security he led the effort in Congress to do so when he was there. In fact, in 2001 he joined a coalition of members in the US Congress in sending a letter to a presidential commission,” said Ross with a handful of seniors standing behind him at his campaign headquarters in Little Rock.
Ross contended Hutchinson’s past support for privatizing Social Security is indicative of how he might act as Governor.
“I think it’s important that we look at past performance to determine how they’re going to perform in the future, and his priorities clearly are with Wall Street and not with Arkansas seniors,” said Ross.
He argued privatizing Social Security would leave seniors vulnerable to the volatility of the market and result in care being pushed onto state services.
In a statement, Hutchinson said Ross’s critiques were false and meant to scare seniors.
"For Mike Ross to read from the tired old Democratic playbook and use false attacks to scare our senior citizens is shameful and underestimates the people of Arkansas. Mike Ross’ most recent attack does not create one job in Arkansas and does nothing but mislead the voters. I have always supported a strong social security system and I have fought hard for our senior citizens and I will continue to do so as governor."
Hutchinson said he supported a “strong social security system” but his campaign has not answered a follow-up question asking whether the former Congressman thinks privatization would strengthen Social Security.
Libertarian nominee Frank Gilbert unabashedly supports the program’s privatization.
“Of course Social Security has nothing to do with being Governor of Arkansas, but both the old party candidates have proven how they view government and taxpayer supported boondogles. If we elect one of them, we can tell how they will run the state by how they have voted on Social Security,” said Gilbert.
He continued, “It is time to end government involvement in retirement investment and planning. It is time for Arkansas to have a governor that won't play politics with their money or their trust.”
Green Party gubernatorial candidate Joshua Drake adamantly opposes Social Security’s privatization. Some of Drake’s major arguments, such as distrusting Wall Street to manage retirement savings, were also shared by Ross. Drake too characterizes Hutchinson’s congressional record as supporting privatization.
“The banking deregulation and then crisis of the 80s followed by the recent Wall Street collapse prove that Social Security should always remain protected and should never be privatized. Hutchinson’s past support for privatization of Social Security and his current calls for across the board deregulation of such basic things as air quality show a pattern of reckless behavior that puts the interests of big business ahead of the health, safety and welfare of the people of the State of Arkansas."
The Democratic Party of Arkansas drew similar comparisons in other races around the state.