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Group Coordinates Attack on GOP Over Social Security, Medicare

Dovetailing their efforts with the Democratic Party’s midterm elections strategy, Americans United for Change is dispatching staff and resources to battleground states in what appears to be a shoestring effort to paint Republicans as seeking to destroy Social Security and Medicare.

A key part of the Democrats’ strategy to stem losses on Nov. 2 is to convince voters that Republicans are extremists who, if elected, would gut Social Security and Medicare. The AUFC, a Democratic activist group, is hoping to help drive home this message and is spending $100,000 over the next month to send two staffers each to Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania and one staffer each to Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington state.

Every state on that list except for Minnesota features a major contested Senate race. Six of those seats are currently held by Democrats. The AUFC plans to keep its personnel on the ground through mid-September and then re-evaluate the program to see if it warrants being continued. The group was originally known as Americans United to Protect Social Security and was launched to beat back President George W. Bush’s ultimately failed attempt to reform the entitlement program.

“Questions politicians can be expected to hear at public forums over and over again until they give a straight yes or no answer: Are you for privatizing Social Security and slashing guaranteed benefits, or not? Are you for raising the age of retirement, or not? Are you for replacing Medicare with a voucher system that won’t even cover the full cost of medical care or prescriptions, or not?” AUFC Executive Director Tom McMahon said in a prepared statement.

McMahon’s warning fits neatly with a statement released by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Social Security program. Reid, facing a tough challenge from former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R), is considered one of this cycle’s most vulnerable Democrats.

“If my Republican colleagues had their way, Social Security benefits would be eliminated, phased out or risked on the stock market, leaving millions of Americans’ retirement security hostage to the up and down fluctuations of Wall Street,” Reid said. “I believe that retirement security for Main Street should be guaranteed, not trusted to Wall Street. And that is why I will continue to fight to make sure we do not jeopardize the future of Social Security with risky schemes that leave our seniors vulnerable.”

To prove their claims that Republicans are targeting Social Security and Medicare, Democrats and activist groups like the AUFC cite Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which proposes to overhaul the two programs to ensure they remain solvent without eating up more of the federal budget.

Ryan has repeatedly rebutted his critics’ characterization of his plan, noting that it would leave Social Security and Medicare unchanged for all current recipients and those due to become eligible for the programs in the 10 years after it was implemented.

Republicans contend that Democrats are trying to scare voters, arguing it is their only hope to survive a political thrashing in the fall given the current political atmosphere.

“The Democrats are desperate to shift attention away from their reckless spending record and failure to create jobs. But as Nov. 2 draws closer, poll after poll makes clear the voters aren’t buying their scare tactics,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.