At a town hall in Sahuarita, Ariz., last year, Rep. Martha McSally was asked a yes-or-no question: Would she defend Social Security and Medicare?
McSally responded emphatically, “Yes,” and the audience cheered. But McSally’s record in Congress gave a different answer.
Despite promises to the contrary, the Republican who is now running for a Senate seat has supported plans to privatize Social Security, voted to cut and voucherize Medicare, and voted to allow Internet companies to sell consumers’ data.
“I’m committed to protecting and preserving Social Security and Medicare for seniors and the next generation,” McSally said at the town hall last year. “If you go back and look at my bipartisan votes, I voted against the Republican budget as one of my first votes in office because of its experimenting with Medicare.”
However, when McSally was first running for Congress, she repeatedly supported plans to divert some Social Security payroll taxes.
Asked about allowing workers to invest a portion of the Social Security into private accounts in a 2012 questionnaire, McSally supported the idea: “For younger workers, we need to consider approaches such as gradually increasing the retirement age and allowing them to invest a portion of their Social Security payments in ways that will allow them to maximize their returns.”
Then at a debate in April 2012, McSally told Arizonans of her plans to shift money away from the Social Security trust fund: “Some innovation and ideas are on the table which are worth looking at for people to keep some money in their pockets when it comes to Social Security.”
Privatization could prove risky, particularly for Arizona’s large retirement community, according to a 2010 congressional report.
In the report, the Joint Economic Committee wrote that “accounts may leave retirees open to fluctuations in the performance of the stock market or may encourage lower-income workers to borrow against retirement savings in order provide food and education for their children.”
McSally has also voted for Republican plans that would cut Medicare.
McSally voted for the Republican budget last year that would cut Medicare and turn it into a voucher program. McSally also voted for another version of the GOP budget that proposed cutting Medicare spending by $473 billion.
When she first ran for Congress, McSally promised Arizona voters she would fight for their privacy rights in Washington.
“It should be alarming to Americans that we’ve got our privacy, just our personal constitutional protections are really under assault here,” McSally said in a 2013 radio interview. “And we need to be cognizant of that and we need people fighting for that. Security at all costs is not the solution for our nation if we have to give up our personal liberties.”
But in 2017, McSally, who has received nearly $100,000 in campaign cash from the telecommunications industry, voted to repeal a rule approved by the Obama administration that would have prevented Internet service providers from selling user browsing data.
After the vote, the National Journal reported that a poll showed that 71 percent of Arizonans had major doubts about the repeal.