Social insecurity

The race for the Senate between Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Chris Murphy got turned up another notch this week when video appeared of her saying that a “sunset clause” study of Social Security might be a good idea and she then gave an interview in which she said she was open to anything when it came to Medicare.

To be fair, Ms. McMahon has never been quoted as saying she would end either program. She’s simply saying that we need to talk about these ideas, and there’s nothing wrong with conversation about critical issues. But at the same time these are political powder kegs, and since Ms. McMahon has largely run a campaign that has avoided these kinds of discussions, people will sit up and take notice when it comes to comments like these.

This is an entirely self-inflicted wound. What makes this video such an issue isn’t only what Ms. McMahon said on it, but that this is one of the few times we have actually seen her get specific about policy and what she believes.

You haven’t seen discussion of sunset clauses on the campaign trail. You’ve heard the stories about how she met her husband in church. You heard about their bankruptcy (strangely, no mention of the million they had left unpaid, but we’re sure that was an oversight). You heard about her finding out she was pregnant the day she was graduating from college. You’ve heard it all so many times you can probably tell the story better than she can at this point.

What we haven’t heard about are policy specifics. “Linda’s plan,” which has been the centerpiece of her campaign, may be good election strategy, but we need to know more.

What does Linda McMahon believe? How can we say when we don’t fully know? It’s given Mr. Murphy a huge opening to try and portray her as someone who is out there to end Social Security and privatize Medicare. Is that true? We doubt it is, but Ms. McMahon hasn’t exactly told us a lot about what she would do with these programs. How can we truly know what she’s against when she won’t tell us what she’s for?

We do need to look at the full context of her remarks and judge from all of that if she’s someone we want to represent us in the Senate. But how can we do that when she has run a campaign based on generic stories and refers all questions to her all-encompassing plan instead of getting down into the nitty gritty of actual legislative work?

She says we need to have the conversation about these entitlement programs in which all ideas are on the table, and there’s nothing wrong with that even though most of the ideas in Washington these days (including the Simpson Bowles proposal that our Democratic congressman, Jim Himes, is so attached to) are far too heavy on cuts. But once you open the door to privatization and sunset clauses, can it be closed?

Does Linda McMahon really want that? Does she claim that she won’t support those ideas knowing that if elected her Republican colleagues and conservative Democrats will do the dirty work and she can say, “Don’t look at me, I didn’t vote for it.” That’s entirely speculative on our part, but until we truly know what Ms. McMahon is for, the voters don’t have all the information they need to make this critical decision in a little more than a month.

The Greenwich Post has extended an invitation to both Ms. McMahon and Mr. Murphy to meet with us and the editors in our chain of Hersam Acorn Newspapers to discuss their positions on the record. So far neither has accepted, and that’s disappointing. The voters deserve to hear from them the specifics about what they will do on complicated issues.

When the debates begin between these candidates this coming Sunday, we hope it’s an exchange of ideas and not of insults. But we’re not holding our breath. This is not a time for cute stories and fuzzy anecdotes. This is about what they will specifically do so we can make the most informed decision possible.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress