Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Social Security, the two faces of Jaime Herrera.

Someone, I think it was Will Rogers, once remarked something to the effect that he hated to lie. As I recall the story, he said something like it "gives me too much I have to remember."

As anyone looking at this blog knows, I do not support Jaime Herrera for Congress. In everything from her appointment to the House back in 07 through this campaign, she has shown a lack of integrity, knowledge or that she gives a damn about people. The vicious personal attacks her winged monkeys engage in, the fact that she's the establishment GOP puppet combined with the fact that my pet cocker spaniel has spent more time in this area over the last 13 years then she has makes her absolutely unqualified to represent this district in Congress.

So, today's story in the Bellingham Herald was not surprising or out of the ordinary for Ridgefield Barbie, perhaps the emptiest suit running for Congress in this country.

Babs claimed, at a forum in May, that she DID support privatization of Social Security. That, of course, was what she needed to say as part of her chameleon-like effort to advance in the primary. Now, when she needs to act a little more bi-partisan, well, it's a different story. But then, with Barbie, it's ALWAYS a different story.

And what *I* don't want representing me in Congress is someone who needs training wheels. Herrera was all about having people look at her hair-strand thin "record" of selling us out in the legislature. So now, her claim that she's "new to this" rings hollow.

Relabeling stupid doesn't help you win elections. We are at war in a fringe-left economy crippled by stupidity and we don't need to institutionalize that stupidity by sending cardboard cut outs of true representation to Congress.

But then, she's told us from the beginning that she doesn't "presume to pretend to know."

How true that is.

As the Bellingham Herald puts it:

3rd CD: Herrera sets record straight on Social Security

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Republican congressional candidate Jaime Herrera says she supports keeping Social Security intact and not changing the retirement age. Her campaign said this week she does not favor allowing private accounts for younger workers that could be invested in the stock market. But she does support incentives for people who open their own accounts.

Never mind that Herrera held up a sign at a Lewis County Republican Party candidate forum in May for saying "yes" to the private-accounts or privatization idea. Other Republican candidates in the 3d Congressional District race also held up "yes" placards during a "lightning round" of questions.

Social Security privatization is one of those issues that Democrats would like to use against Republicans in congressional races so it was not surprising that a source sent me a clip of Herrera and her "yes" sign. Denny Heck, her Democratic opponent on Nov. 2, has said Social Security is a highly successful anti-poverty program for the elderly, and he's strongly opposed the shifting of any of its resources into private accounts.

But Herrera's spokesman Casey Bowman says the video misstates Herrera's real position and that she misunderstood the forum question.

Jaime misunderstood the question, which we realized in talking about it afterward. … Jaime understood the question as "should people receive additional tax incentives for investing in IRA’s or 401k's?"— a concept that she strongly supports. She doesn't support diverting any funds currently going to Social Security.

The actual question asked: "Do you believe that Americans should be able to use all or a portion of their Social Security taxes to invest in individually owned retirement accounts such as a 401K or an IRA?"

To be fair to Herrera, she has expressed support for retaining Social Security in its present form in several other venues. She also has said she wants to shore up its financing and opposes raising the retirement age to 70. Bowman sent an email with the following links to mainstream news reports that captured those sentiments – here in the Oregonian and here and here in The Columbian.

Bowman wrote that the verbal glitch is the reason Herrera's campaign will "never agree to another 'lightning round' again.' " His email also said:

To be clear, Jaime does not believe in privatizing Social Security. We know her opponents will be looking for any daylight on this issue, but she has been consistent in this message, on record, throughout the campaign … she doesn't believe the money that people pay into Social Security should be diverted elsewhere by the government. She strongly favors tax incentives to encourage families to save for their retirement through 401k's or IRA's in addition to, but not in place of, Social Security. … When she speaks to groups, she consistently encourages young people to invest in their own 401-k's and IRA's like she has done because overspending bills like Obamacare do threaten the future of Social Security. The only action in regard to Social Security she has posed on the campaign trail is shoring up its funding so that it's there for our seniors, as promised.

I put in a question about the video to the Heck campaign, and spokesman Aaron Wasser sent this reply:

"Jaime Herrera can't have it both ways. The question was clear. When asked directly whether or not she supported privatizing social security, Jaime Herrera said yes."This forum happened months ago and Jaime never said she misheard or was confused by the question, she was perfectly content to let her answer stand until she was asked about it."

I expect Democrats to use Herrera's step-back in some fashion. It is the second time she has backtracked from a position she appeared to take in public.

At the 1:29 minute mark in this radio report Herrera advocated for 10 percent across-the-board cuts to the federal government, including agencies, Congress and the White House, saying:

"And boy, now more than ever do we need government oversight. I'm one that has said I believe that Congress, the federal agencies, the White House, they need to take a 10 percent across the board reduction in their budget."

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Heck campaign have pointed out that would mean 10 percent cuts to veterans programs and perhaps Social Security. (Here is the link to the KIRO blog post about the interview.)

But Herrera says that she misspoke. Her real position on cuts is that members of Congress and federal-agency appointees should have their pay cut by 10 percent – something she sees as a symbolic act that would show some sympathy to Americans struggling through the recession.

In an interview earlier this week after her fundraiser in Lacey, Herrera explained the error saying: "I'm new at this." Herrera also said state Sen. Joe Zarelli has pointed out the hazards of across-the-board cuts, which hit disabled people as hard as a tourism program, and "I very much see the wisdom of (avoiding) that. I meant keep everything on the table."

She also said a pay cut would not erase the federal debt but sends a good message:

(R)emember how I said Congress lives in a bubble … I do think they need to live in the same world as everyone else. A pay reduction sends that message to the American people … We end the debt by getting the economy moving. We also have to stop digging. … Do I want to eliminate all of government? No."

Heck has said since early July that he supports a 10 percent pay cut for members of Congress. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has pointed to this Columbian story that quotes Heck at a July forum in Vancouver and again here on Heck’s campaign blog.

Heck said members of Congress should take 10 percent pay cuts until the economic crisis ends.

Cross posted at Clark County Politics.

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