U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) departs after his news conference following the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Sept. 9, 2014.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

McConnell trips on Social Security approaching finish line

A variety of adjectives come to mind when describing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but “undisciplined” isn’t one of them. It’s why it came as something of a surprise last week when the longtime incumbent, unprompted, reminded voters of his support for George W. Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security out of existence.
 
Ironically, the Kentucky Republican was looking for an example of his bipartisan outreach, and the first thing that came to mind was his effort to find Democrats willing to replace the Social Security system with private accounts.
 
Alison Lundergan Grimes and her allies were only too pleased to take advantage – if McConnell wants to spend the final week of the campaign talking about his work trying to kill Social Security, Democrats don’t mind at all. Indeed, the Senate Majority PAC launched this hard-hitting ad in Kentucky late last week.
 
Greg Sargent reported yesterday that McConnell’s campaign team has pushed local stations not to run the commercial. The Republican push isn’t going well.
The McConnell campaign is trying to get TV stations to stop running the ad. I’ve checked in with Kentucky stations, and most declined to reveal their plans for the spot, though an official at one – Fox affiliate WDRB – told me: “We reinstated the spot, finding the assertions factual.” A spokesman for Senate Majority PAC told me the ad is still airing “on every station we bought on.”
 
The dust-up shows that Democrats are pushing hard to make Social Security privatization a sleeper issue in the last days of the Kentucky Senate race.
It does, indeed. And by fighting to kill the ad, the GOP campaign only helps draw attention to the spot McConnell doesn’t want voters to see.
 
Making matters slightly worse, when Kentucky Joe Sonka asked McConnell whether voters should expect the senator to push Social Security privatization after the midterms, McConnell replied, “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance,” suggesting the senator is confused about the point of a political campaign.
 
Yesterday, the 30-year incumbent found changing the subject isn’t as easy as he’d like.
Recently, the Grimes campaign has attacked McConnell saying he supports privatizing social security and has professed support in the past. McConnell says that’s just not accurate.
 
“That’s just one of the many fictions the Grimes campaign has been spinning. Obviously, preserving and protecting Social Security is the most important thing any of us can do,” said McConnell.
Look, McConnell no doubt realizes that Social Security is popular and privatization schemes are not. It’s why it was a mistake for the Republican senator to bring up his position in the first place.
 
But for him to suggest he supports “preserving and protecting” the Social Security system is plainly untrue. McConnell last week admitted he helped champion Bush’s wildly unpopular scheme, which represented the exact opposite of “preserving and protecting” the program. It’s been a key element of McConnell’s vision since at least the 1990s.
 
This isn’t fiction; it’s just reality.
 

Kentucky, Mitch McConnell and Social Security

McConnell trips on Social Security approaching finish line