Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 24, 2010

TOOMEY HAS BIG PLANS FOR SOCIAL SECURITY.... For all the talk about the various radical candidates seeking statewide office this year -- Angle, Paul, Johnson, Maes, Emmer -- it's easy to overlook former Rep. Pat Toomey, the Republican Senate nominee in Pennsylvania this year.

One recent analysis found that Toomey, based on his voting record, is "considerably" more conservative than Rick Santorum was during his tenure, and had a record more ideologically in tune with notorious North Carolinian Jesse Helms.

To help drive the point home, consider his approach to Social Security, an issue we're apparently not supposed to talk about, and which GOP leaders like to suggest they won't privatize. Toomey was asked yesterday at the Pennsylvania Press Club whether he stands by the privatization scheme he's long favored. "I've never said I favor privatizing Social Security," he replied.

A dramatic flip-flop? No, the issue here is that Toomey just prefers to define "privatization" in a way that doesn't make sense. He doesn't support privatization, Toomey just wants workers to take their money out of the Social Security system, and invest it on their own in private accounts -- subject to swings on Wall Street -- which will support them during their retirement. Toomey even wrote a book with a chapter called, "Transforming Social Security." The first subhead reads, "Personal Accounts Lead to Personal Prosperity."

Some dare call this "privatization"? Imagine that.

Pat Garofalo explained:

[M]ake no mistake, Toomey absolutely favors privatizing a portion of the program, as he makes painfully clear through his advocating that young workers "own" an account. Such privatized accounts would have experienced sharp negative returns in the market turmoil of 2008.

As Josh Dorner noted, a recent CNN poll "found that 59 percent oppose privatizing Social Security and Medicare." 46 percent of voters said such a plan would make them "very uncomfortable" and a further 21 percent had reservations about it. Toomey tries to dress this up by not calling it privatization, but his formula is the same one that was roundly rejected when President Bush tried it in 2005.

Toomey may not feel comfortable with the description of his privatization scheme, but that doesn't change what it is.

Just as an aside, I also noticed that Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine was in Philadelphia earlier this month, throwing her support to Toomey and helping the right-wing candidate raise money. This struck me as a little bizarre -- when Toomey led the Club for Growth, one of his main tasks was destroying moderate Republicans like Collins. In 2009, Toomey even named Collins a "Comrade of the Month" for having supported economic recovery efforts.

For that matter, Collins claims that she wants to see a more moderate Republican Party, with more GOP lawmakers willing to work on bipartisan policy solutions. If she believes that, why on earth would she be in Pennsylvania, going out of her way to support Toomey, an unabashedly far-right ideologue?

Steve Benen 2:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

Being an elderly county, that will be unpopular in Allegheny County

Posted by: Jamie on August 24, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Don't bet on it, Jamie- here in Berks County we are just as old, and just as stupid, as the rest of Pennsylvania, and Toomey has a solid lead.

Posted by: DAY on August 24, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Pat Garofalo's comment, "Such privatized accounts would have experienced sharp negative returns in the market turmoil of 2008," can we just say "sharp losses"? "Negative returns" reminds me of Secretary of State James Baker's comment before the first Gulf War: "We can have peace, or not peace." Of course, we have a good word for that: "war." Plain English is usually best.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on August 24, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Collins has to do that if she wants to stay on any committees, or head them up.
Republicans are strict about party discipline.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on August 24, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

The main question in the PA Senate race this year is whether or not Dems come out to vote in metro Pittsburgh + Philadelphia. Let's break it down.

* Figure that, broadly speaking, the 'T' (aka Alabama, PA, aka Pennsyltucky, aka the state other than its southeastern + southwestern corners) is deep red, and the corners are pretty deeply blue. Case in point: in 2004, Philly went for Kerry 4:1 over Bush, + even more strongly for Obama in 2008. Ditto Pittsburgh, although not quite as strongly.

* As a side comment, people from the T tend to vote for pro-life, pro-gun, pro-labor candidates. This is one reason that the Bobs Casey (Sr. + Jr.) did so well here.

* Given the huge difference in population density, as well as higher typical voter turnout in the T than in the cities, the combined numbers for Pittsburgh + Philadelphia very roughly balance those in the T.

* The race, therefore, comes down to turnout in the Philadelphia + Pittsburgh suburbs. Speaking of Philadelphia (although I suspect it applies to Pittsburgh as well), the suburbs are purple, although turning more blue over the years. If Sestak expects to win this November, he has to soundly defeat Toomey in the suburbs, as well as in the cities. He also needs higher-than-usual voter turnout in the cities in his favor.

As usual, it comes down to who does a better job of GOTV.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on August 24, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Teapublicans have given communism it's best PR in decades.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on August 24, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

If she believes that, why on earth would she be in Pennsylvania, going out of her way to support Toomey, an unabashedly far-right ideologue?

Because she's a party hack, like all Replicants. She loves to tease the reality-based community by pretending she'll vote for something useful, but most of the time, it's all tease, no action.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on August 24, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Teapublicans have given communism it's best PR in decades.

Viva la revolucion.

Sigh again,
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on August 24, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be surprised if Toomey carries the over-65 demographic. As long as they know they're exempt from his privatization scheme, they couldn't care less what happens to their kids. .

Posted by: walt on August 24, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Unless Sestak gets his campaign rolling, I don't see how Toomey doesn't just crush him.

I'm in Pittsburgh. We have been swamped by Toomey ads for months. I've seen one Sestak ad. One. The only reason a lot of people even know Sestak is in the campaign is because Toomey mentions him.

Boy's not acting like he wants to win this.

Posted by: zak822 on August 24, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, I agree w/zak822. I expect the scenario as I described it to occur, but I also expect that Toomey will carry the purplish Philadelphia + Pittsburgh, and that this, combined w/low Democratic turnout in Philly + Pittsburgh, will give Little Mr. Teabagger the win in a walk. Along w/Tom Corbett for governor.

And me upping my antidepressants,
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on August 24, 2010 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

"[W]hy on earth would she be in Pennsylvania, going out of her way to support Toomey, an unabashedly far-right ideologue?"

Because GOP leadership ordered her to assume the position and, knowing her place, she complied. Just your typical authoritarian household.

Posted by: bdop4 on August 24, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Aside to your aside...

Steve:

Just as an aside, I also noticed that Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine was in Philadelphia earlier this month, throwing her support to Toomey and helping the right-wing candidate raise money. This struck me as a little bizarre -- when Toomey led the Club for Growth, one of his main tasks was destroying moderate Republicans like Collins. In 2009, Toomey even named Collins a "Comrade of the Month" for having supported economic recovery efforts.
James Howard Kunstler in his Monday shake down:
We took a different route home, more northerly, across a rural Maine region largely un-molested by the toils of tourism, but stunningly poor. Some of it looked like Arkansas -- not the part where WalMart lives, either. At long intervals we passed through mill towns where the mills are now silent and the only visible business was the tattoo trade. Even there in the New England backwaters, the toxic superhero-thug culture of Hollywood rules and the idle grandsons of mill-workers glowered in death-metal regalia at passing strangers as if they were auditioning for parts in the next Road Warrior movie. Not a few of them seemed to have lopsided heads. Does crystal meth do that?

Which is all to suggest...
Maybe Collins is doing the best she can...

Posted by: koreyel on August 24, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Susan Collins made an important career decision about 18 months ago....I will not allow ANYBODY to get to the right of me.

During that time she has continually tried to create the impression that she is open to compromising and finding common ground with Democrats, but increasingly, when vote time came, she stuck with the party and its steadily hardening right-wing positions.

Collins used to be considered a possible swing vote. That is less and less likely to happen these days.

Posted by: dweb on August 24, 2010 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Everybody has the right and ability to establish their own, very privatized social security. It's called a Savings Plan. It can be in the form of a passbook savings account, a 401(k), a stock portfolio, property, ... the list is varied and endless. None of these plans are hindered in any way by Social Security. But as we have seen, they all carry serious risk. But since Social Security is guaranteed by the Federal government, it provides the "base load" to all other retirement plans.

Posted by: frankBel on August 24, 2010 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

"I've never said I favor privatizing Social Security," he replied.

He probably favours "personalising" it. And it's your own nose that's at fault, when you say that "a turd, under any name..."

Posted by: exlibra on August 24, 2010 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure why Sestak is letting Toomey define him up to this point, however, his ads are narrowly directed at Obama-hating, Pelosi-hating folks. (They're all Pelosi-as-boogeyman stuff. You have to buy into first premise to care about what the ads say, I think.)

I'm hoping Sestak is planning on letting people know that Toomey as a right-wing lunatic (which he is) and is going to do it SOON.

Toomey scares me far more than Santorum and would be an embarassment to PA.

Posted by: zoe kentucky in pittsburgh on August 24, 2010 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

That right winger has no chance. The only reason the people in Bucks county think he is winning is because of the right wing newspapers there. Joe has never lost & he won't lose this time either. Remember the only good republican is one that is in jail or out of office!!

Posted by: John on August 24, 2010 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Gianna on January 6, 2011 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Noble Cose on January 14, 2011 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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