by Max Brantley
Tim Griffin, Republican candidate for 2nd District, has a record to run from when it comes to Social Security. Back during his proud service to President Bush, he wanted the president tried to privatize it and Griffin has talked proudly of working for the president's agenda. Good thing that didn't happen, given the stock market implosion that followed.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is on Griffin's case on this. Fair game. Griffin's past gives you some idea of where he might fall on the Ryan plan to cut and privatize Social Security and Medicare. I don't guess he'll be so supportive of cutting the pet projects of the lobbyists who gathered at the Capitol Hill Club last night for this $1,000 fund-raiser, however.
UPDATE: A spokesman for Tim Griffin asserts that Griffin did not work directly on the Social Security project at the White House, despite references in the newspaper that suggested that would be part of his work. Does that mean he objected to privatization then and told the president so? He dodges that question. "It was not his role to critique all the policies of the Bush administration," says K. Ryan James.
UPDATE II: But, now, in a followup question, James says flatly that Griffin was opposed to Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. I've asked if there's anything on the record to reflect that and don't have a response yet, but good for him if that's true. Too bad he didn't have any influence on the president he served so loyally. I've also asked again for where Griffin stands on the current plan by House Republican leader Ryan plan to cut Social Security and Medicare and privatize them. The Democratic Campaign Committee isn't buying. Said spokesman Jesse Ferguson:
‘That dog won’t hunt. Yesterday, Tim Griffin was proud of his work pushing a White House agenda that included Social Security privatization and touting support from a group of Congressmen who want to privatize social security. Now, he’s back in Arkansas pretending like none of that happened and responding to questions by saying ‘who me?’ He won’t even tell us if he’s ready to back the Republican leadership budget in Washington that privatizes Social Security and turns Medicare into a voucher system.
It’s clear that Griffin was hired to build political support for Bush-era initiatives like Social Security and he can’t run away from that. Tim Griffin changes positions so quick and runs from his own record so fast that Arkansas families are starting to wonder if they can believe anything he says.”
DCCC NEWS RELEASE
Tim Griffin Was “Proud” To Gamble Social Security on Wall Street
Democrats highlighted disgraced Washington political operative and congressional candidate Tim Griffin’s work to privatize social security in response to his claim today that he was “proud” to have worked for President George W. Bush. While serving as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Political Affairs for Karl Rove in the White House, Griffin was responsible for building the political support for Bush-era plans to privatize social security. Recently, national Republican leaders who support Griffin’s campaign have begun, again, to promote plans to privatize social security. DC Republicans showcased Griffin to lobbyists and special interests at their headquarters in Washington today.
Democrats condemned congressional candidate Tim Griffin for the “Griffin Gamble” – his push for a plan to privatize social security by moving social security funds onto Wall Street.
“Arkansas seniors can’t afford to let Tim Griffin and his cronies in Washington gamble their hard-earned Social Security funds on the stock market,” said Jesse Ferguson, Southern Regional Press Secretary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Tim Griffin might be proud of his work to sell out Arkansas Seniors to big bankers on Wall Street. But, Arkansas families aren’t going to let Tim “Gambling” Griffin give their hard earned social security to Wall Street executives to play poker with. His accent might sound like he’s from Arkansas but his values are vintage failures like privatizing social security.”
In 2005, Tim Griffin was appointed a “special assistant to the president and deputy director of political affairs – No. 3 to political guru Karl Rove.” One of his “primary jobs will be firming up grass-roots support for President Bush’s agenda.” At the time, it was clear that “Social Security will be the type of thing he will help coordinate.” [Arkansas Democrat Gazette, 4/28/05]
Still proud to lead the privatization agenda. In response to questions about his role in Washington, Tim Griffin today said: “I am very proud to have had the opportunity to work for a president” [POLITICO, 2/24/10]
House GOP Leader supports privatizing social security. In May 2001, now NRCC Chairman Representative Pete Sessions, co-signed a letter to the President’s Commission to Strengthen Social Security urging for privatization. The letter read, “Social Security reform must offer younger workers the opportunity to improve their rates of return using personal retirement accounts.” [Rep. Jim DeMint Letter to The Social Security Reform Commission, 5/24/01]
Griffin is a part of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of contenders in their Young Gun candidate program. [NRCC]
Griffin is being featured by Washington Republicans today, February 24, as part of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns events. [The Hill, 2/24/10; NRCC Invitation]
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein writes that under House Republican Ranking Member of the Budget Committee Paul Ryan's budget proposal reforms are “nothing short of violent. Medicare is privatized. Seniors get a voucher to buy private insurance, and the voucher's growth is far slower than the expected growth of health-care costs. Medicaid is also privatized. The employer tax exclusion is fully eliminated, replaced by a tax credit that grows more slowly than medical costs. And beyond health care, Social Security gets guaranteed, private accounts that CBO says will actually cost more than the present arrangement, further underscoring how ancillary the program is to our budget problem.” [The Washington Post, 2/1/10; Ranking Republican of Budget Committee Paul Ryan Web site]
In 2005, President Bush went on a 60 stops in 60 days Social Security tour, following him outlining the details of his private account plan in his February State of the Union Address. [Washington Post, 4/27/05]
Had seniors been relying on private social security accounts in the Stock Market during the 2008 collapse, they might have lost nearly 40% of their retirement savings in the 12 months leading up to the collapse. On October 9, 2007 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 14,164.53. On October 9, 2008 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 8,579.19. [History of Dow Jones Industrial Average, http://www.mdleasing.com/djia.htm; http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=^DJI&a=09&b=9&c=2007&d=09&e=9&f=2008&g=d&z=66&y=198]