Alliance for Retired Americans launches pro-Social Security political ads
ARA Facebook page

The labor-backed Alliance for Retired Americans is launching pro-Social Security digital political ads in five swing states, including those with tight U.S. Senate races as well as the presidential contest.

The ads come just after a pro-Democratic advocacy group, Americans United for Change, released a poll of swing-state voters showing overwhelming bipartisan opposition to plans to cut and change Social Security, and plans to vote against candidates who propose such changes.

Respondents turned thumbs down, by huge margins, on ideas that congressional Republicans have floated in the past for changing the nation’s retirement system. The ideas that sank like stones in the poll included raising the retirement age, cutting benefits, partial privatization of Social Security and investing its funds in the stock market.

And by a 53 percent-20 percent margin, the voters said they would be less likely to vote for Republicans should the GOP pursues those policy changes if they win the White House and hold Congress. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Social Security has not been a big issue in the presidential campaign. Democratic nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton does not advocate massive changes, except to expand it to give better benefits to working women and to stay-at-home moms. GOP nominee Donald Trump has bluntly told fellow Republicans to forget cutting Social Security and Medicare.

But the Senate races are another matter, ARA Executive Director Richard Fiesta says.

“Millions of retirees depend on Social Security’s modest earned benefits to make ends meet,” he adds. “These politicians repeatedly worked to weaken the system, and replace Social Security’s guaranteed earned benefits with risk-based schemes. Our members are asking them to support current and future retirees’ right to the secure retirement they have earned.”

ARA’s ads, which include children posing as retirees to stress Social Security’s importance to future generations as well as current workers and retirees, are running in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina and Missouri, with Spanish-language versions in Florida and Nevada. All five states have close U.S. Senate races.

ARA says each Republican running – Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Richard Burr (N.C.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rep. Joe Heck (Nev.) – “supported efforts to weaken Social Security through privatization, a higher retirement age, and/or means testing and has voted to slash funding for the Social Security Administration, increasing waiting times and lengthening decision-making times for retirees and other beneficiaries.”

ARA’s website gives Congressional Record or news citations, linked to the ads’ text, for those statements.


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.