Fox News host Sean Hannity has to know better than to ever start a sentence with what Republicans would never do. They’ve already proven, they’ll do anything, say anything, to get elected. Before Hannity could even form his mouth to allege on his show Tuesday that “not a single Republican” has ever said “they want to take away your Social Security and Medicare and cut it,” a video of Sen. Mike Lee of Utah saying exactly that in his 2010 campaign had already emerged on social media.
“It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it,” Lee said in the video. "People who advise me politically always tell me that's dangerous, and I tell them, in that case, it's not worth my running. That's why I'm doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort and need to be pulled up.”
When The Daily Herald gave Lee the opportunity to clarify the statement, he relied on the ever-popular criminal defense of "I don't recall."
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“So I don’t, I don’t recall ever having advocated for dismantling those—that’s sensitive stuff,” Lee told the Utah newspaper. “And I don’t I don’t recall advocating for dismantling them. I vaguely remember a time in 2010 when we were talking about a bunch of things.”
Lee rambled on in an attempt to defend himself, but the more he talked, the more assurance he seemed to give voters that he meant those words uttered more than a decade ago.
Lee claimed he was talking about a “need to end” what he dubbed a “pattern of the federal government occupying space that it wasn’t intended to occupy and spending too much money.”
“Perhaps that was close in time and in proximity to another conversation about Social Security, but I don’t remember ever in any time since I first became a candidate for the Senate ever saying, ‘No, we just have to end Social Security and uproot all the expectations of those who’ve paid into it,’” Lee said. “Quite to the contrary. As far as I can remember, every time I’ve spoken, I’ve said, ‘We do have problems with that,’ in part because, when it was created in the 1930s, it was sold to the American people as something that would be their property, it’s theirs. They have it, it’s just held, like in trust, in an account, by the government, in their name. It would always be their money.”
Lee said a “weird issue” arose when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the 1937 Helvering v. Davis decision that Social Security “was a tax and therefore not private property.”
The decision Lee referenced maintains that Congress has the right to spend in the interest of “general welfare” without violating the 10th Amendment of the Constitution, which limits federal authority.
He claimed that his issues with the decision aside, "it’s a commitment that we’ve made to people who’ve paid into the system" and “in the case of those who were retirees” or “within a couple of decades even of retiring, you can’t pull that away.”
Lee conveniently left out of his statement any promise to uphold that commitment for those not quite as near retirement age.
He also advocated for increasing the retirement age. “You can’t create an abrupt adjustment to that without creating a lot of problems, but I’ve established a very slow transition toward increasing the retirement age and having it hover based on life expectancy at the time,” he told The Daily Herald.
Problem is, Lee has already proven to be a liar.
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At long last, the 2022 midterms are almost here! With the battle for the House front and center, we give you a window into the key races on a final pre-election episode of The Downballot. We discuss a wide range of contests that will offer insight into how the night is going, including top GOP pickup opportunities, second-tier Republican targets, and the seats where Democrats are on offense. And with many vote tallies likely to stretch on for some time, we also identify several bellwether races in states that count quickly.