The Mary Landrieu campaign is out with a new hit against the Louisiana Democrat's Republican opponent, Congressman Bill Cassidy. The 30-second ad focuses on Cassidy's support for policies that supposedly hurt senior citizens. Watch the video below:
"It was Congressman Bill Cassidy who voted to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70, cut Social Security benefits for retirees, and raise Medicare costs by $6,000," says the voiceover.
The first two charges come from budget proposals Cassidy has supported, which called for phasing in a gradual increase in the retirement age and changing how the program factors in cost-of-living adjustments, all for future, not current, beneficiaries. (And at least one of those budgets proposed raising the retirement age to 67, not 70.) The last claim arises from a Democratic report on the Paul Ryan-authored budget, for which Cassidy voted. The Ryan budget proposed to institute similarly gradual changes to Medicare for future beneficiaries.
In his time in the House, particularly since Republicans took control in 2011, Bill Cassidy has voted for conservative budgets that would have made significant reforms to these programs. The merit of those reforms is certainly up for debate, but what about Mary Landrieu's own rhetoric on reforming costly social programs?
In 2011, Landrieu raised the possibility in an interview with Politico that Medicare and Social Security would need to be "structurally" changed, though she didn't get into many specifics. “Something has to be done in the long-term programs of Social Security, Medicare, particularly," she said.
And the year before, Landrieu signed a letter adding her support to the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission's plan, which itself proposed raising the retirement age to 69 for Social Security. Landrieu and the other signatories specifically said they "commend" the proposal's Social Security reforms.
There are likely plenty of distinctions between Republican proposals to change Social Security and Medicare and those Landrieu has spoken fondly of. But what's the difference, in spirit, between those supported by Cassidy and those Landrieu has suggested might be necessary to save these programs?