Campaign 2010

Feb 08, 2005

GOP Members Running from Bush’s Privatization Plan

DCCC Press

Feb 8, 2005

GOP Members Running from Bush's Privatization Plan

Less than a week after President Bush put forth his proposal to privatize Social Security, a broad array of House Republicans are scrambling to run away from his plan. And as the President prepares to sell his plan to the Detroit Economic Club today, the Detroit Free Press reports that nearly half of Michigan House Republicans are so far refusing to support his scheme for private accounts.

"The early reviews are in for President Bush's call to privatize Social Security, and even many House Republicans are panning it. Many of these GOP Members have previously backed private accounts, but now are running from the ugly details like deep cuts in benefits and trillions of dollars in new debt," said DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel.

4 of 9 Michigan Republicans Refusing to Support Bush Privatization Plan

"[T]he president may have significant problems within his own party: A survey of Michigan's congressional delegation shows that at least four of nine Republicans in the U.S. House are withholding endorsement of Bush's proposed personal accounts that would allow taxpayers to invest up to 4 percent of their payroll taxes that now go toward social security... The four Republicans are Candice Miller of Harrison Township; Thaddeus McCotter of Livonia; Mike Rogers of Brighton and John (Joe) Schwarz of Battle Creek." [Detroit Free Press, 2/8/04]

House GOP Members Call Bush's Plan for Private Accounts "Too Risky;" Say Plan Must Be "Abandoned" & "Wholesale Changes" Aren't Needed

  • McCrery Said that Account Carve Out Must Be Abandoned. Just as strikingly, Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee supposed to consider Bush's plan first, told reporters last week that the White House probably would need to abandon the idea of carving out part of the payroll tax for investment accounts. [Los Angeles Times, 2/7/05]
  • Schwarz: "Wholesale Changes" Not Needed. Another Republican, Rep. Joe Schwarz of Michigan, said Social Security "has worked well for so long, I don't think it needs any wholesale change." [Gannett News, 2/4/05]
  • Wilson Opposes Bush Social Security Plan. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., echoed Democrats' opposition to Bush's plan, saying she opposes efforts to invest even a portion of Social Security revenues in private accounts. "I don't believe the government should invest Social Security taxes in the stock market, " said Wilson, who represents New Mexico's Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional District. [Associated Press, 2/6/05]
  • Renzi "Extremely Wary" of Accounts. Less definite is Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, who noted Tuesday that the president's own plan has not yet been detailed and that he'd be "extremely wary of the introduction of mandatory private accounts under Social Security." He also said Congress must ensure the retirement system remains "safe, secure and solvent without cutting benefits." [Arizona Republic, 2/2/05]
  • Mike Rogers Says Plan "Too Risky..." Says He's a "Hard Sell." "I'm going to be a pretty hard sell," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. Rogers is usually loyal to the White House. But he represents a district that is almost evenly split between Republican and Democratic voters, and he says the president's plan is "too risky" for his constituents. His misgivings about Bush's plan to allow Americans to invest some of their wages in private accounts indicates how difficult it will be for Bush to sell the proposal. [Gannett News Services, 2/4/05]

House GOP Backing Away from Bush... Their Own Previous Positions

  • English Back Peddling from Support of Bush Plan. After years of supporting privatization, Rep. Phil English may now be backing away from Bush's plan. In mid-January 2005, English said that Bush's plan "will only marginally improve the performance of the system." [Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/21/05]
  • Davis "At Odds" With Bush Over Social Security. While running for Congress last year, Rep. Geoff Davis (R) "rarely failed to inform voters about his staunch support" of Pres. Bush. But now, Davis "finds himself at odds" with one of Bush's "signature issues" and "has said he will not support Bush's plan to allow workers to invest a percentage of their payroll taxes into self-directed personal investment accounts." Davis spokesperson Jessica Towhey: "Geoff Davis is against private accounts. He is also for no decrease in benefits and no increase in payroll taxes." Davis "does support Bush's efforts to try to retool" Social Security but Towhey said "he is withholding final judgment until a formal plan is unveiled" [House Race Hotline, 2/1/05; Cincinnati Enquirer, 1/29/05]
  • Boehlert Announces Opposition to "Gambling" With Social Security. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) of New York said: "I've never been a gambler... I don't want to gamble with Social Security trust fund moneys. And so I am very, very skeptical of the so-called plans to privatize. And I think a disservice is being done to a great many Americans by sort of sounding the alarm that everything's going to hell in a hand basket and we're going to be broke by 2018. That simply is not so." [WAMC radio New York, 1/20/05]
  • After Criticism, Walsh Now Undecided. After being the target of phone calls saying he supported privatization, Rep. Walsh said he did not have a position on supporting the Bush privatization plan. Walsh said there would be a debate over the next few months on how to reform Social Security, and he urged his constituents to contact him with their views. [News10 Now, 2/1/05]

"Every Republican Member now must decide whether they will put their narrow partisan and ideological interests before defending Social Security," said Emanuel.