Ohio junior U.S. Senator Rob Portman is about to get a little schooling from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). AFT will run a 30-second ad in the Columbus market that challenges Sen. Portman on his stance on Social Security privatization.
Mr. Portman has tried to waffle on his plan, but his critics are holding him accountable for what he’s already supported including privatization, reducing benefits and extending the eligible age to tap into earned benefits.
The AFT ad paints Rob Portman as “a leading spokesman to privatize Social Security” who wants “to risk our retirement savings in the stock market.” “Wall Street,” AFT claims, has “given $2.9 million to Portman……..their ‘privatization champion’.” “Ohio needs a Senator who’ll protect Social Security for us. That’s Ted Strickland.”
As a leading spokesman to privatize Social Security, Sen. Portman was alright with risky investments in the stock market, according to the The Cincinnati Enquirer, who wrote back in 2005 that “Portman favors allowing individuals – within certain limitations – to choose how to invest some of their Society Security money.” Another source, Congressional Quarterly Daily Monitor, reported “Portman served as a leading spokesman for President George W. Bush’s proposal to establish private Social Security accounts for younger Americans.”
In a February 2005 House budget committee hearing Portman made his case for support of the privatization proposal:
“We’re going to have to do something. And on the other hand, to say, ‘Gee, we can’t do these personal accounts, because they cost too much.’ Mr. Secretary, you said the $100 invested in personal accounts for 40 years would be a lot more than $100. I’m assuming a 5 percent rate of return, which I think is conservative. That is $704. $100 becomes $704; $10,000 becomes $70,000; $100,000 becomes $700,000. I mean, this is what Einstein talked about, the greatest force in the universe, the power of compounding interest. That’s what we’re talking about here. It’s not cost-free in the interim period, but it actually helps solve the Social Security problem because of this build up of assets and the fact that then Social Security will have less of a responsibility for those people who choose voluntarily to get into the personal accounts. That’s why it’s such an exciting proposal, and why I strongly support it.”
PolitiFact Ohio in 2010 called Sen Portman a fan of Social Security privatization. In 2010, PolitiFact Ohio reported on a statement from Senate candidate Lee Fisher about Rob Portman’s plans on Social Security. The report took issue with parts of Fisher’s statements, however PolitiFact Ohio stated: “Portman was unquestionably a privatization champion, saying in 2005 that it was reasonable to expect a 5 percent annual return on investment.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer added, “It is indisputable that Portman supported Bush’s Proposal” On Social Security.
As recently as today, Sen. Portman voted in the Senate Finance Committee to confirm Charles Blahous — a leading proponent of privatizing Social Security with deep ties to the Koch brothers — to be a public trustee of the Social Security Trust Funds, Ohio Democrats noted. Mr. Blahous authored President George W. Bush’s privatization plan, which Portman strongly supported and advocated for.
“Senator Portman’s vote to confirm his fellow Social Security privatization champion is just the latest in his many attempts to gamble Ohioans’ hard-earned retirements on the stock market,” said Ohio Democratic Party spokesman Daniel van Hoogstraten. “Whether Senator Portman is trying to have seniors turn over their retirements to his friends on Wall Street or trying to raise the retirement age for Social Security, Portman is always looking out for the wealthy special interests he serves, at the expense of Ohio’s working families and seniors.”
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Charles Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse wrote an op-ed yesterday about Blahous entitled, “The Koch Brothers Are Trying To Handpick Government Officials. We Have to Stop Them.”
Despite spending tens of millions against former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, Sen. Portman’s challenger this year, the race is essentially tied.
Watch the AFT ad here: