Romanoff defends record on Social Security against Bennet attacks

DENVER– Andrew Romanoff characterized the latest campaign mailer sent out by primary opponent Sen. Michael Bennet as as an exercise in selective reporting that draws absurd conclusions wildly divergent from reality.

The Bennet Flier (pdf) accused the former Democratic state House Speaker of pushing for the privatization of Social Security. The flier called Romanoff out on a 2004 vote in which he joined other state lawmakers in urging the Colorado Congressional delegation to support what the Bennet campaign called a “risky privatization plan.”

“I oppose the privatization of Social Security and Michael Bennet knows that,” Romanoff said at a Denver press conference Wednesday. Romanoff told the Colorado Independent that the broadly worded 2004 Senate Joint Resolution he supported would not have affected Social Security funds. “The resolution does not say that it will divert money out of Social Security. I wouldn’t have voted for it if it did.” He added that voters only have to look at legislation passed one year later to assure themselves of his resolute stance against Social Security privatization.

Romanoff described the charges as part of a campaign of “defamation, disinformation and desperation.”

The flier is harsh, a reflection of the negative turn the Democratic Senate primary has taken in recent days.

“Andrew Romanoff would gamble Social Security in a risky stock market” it reads and says Romanoff’s stance could risk senior citizen’s Social Security while making “Wall Street rich.”

The Bennet camp followed the flier with a press release sent out last night.

“During press conferences and public appearances, Andrew Romanoff surrounds himself with seniors in a shameful attempt to show his support. What he isn’t telling them is that during his time in the Colorado State House, Speaker Romanoff voted to privatize Social Security. A move that would have cost millions of seniors their livelihoods and homes; stripping many seniors from their only source of income.”

Romanoff told reporters to look at the facts.

Senate Joint Resolution 28 signed by Romanoff in 2004 resolved that “…the members of the General Assembly of the state of Colorado respectfully request that the members of Colorado’s congressional delegation support optional personal retirement accounts and not support increases in payroll taxes and cuts to Social Security benefits.”

The resolution pushed optional savings accounts as a way to provide younger workers the opportunity to net greater savings by retirement age. Romanoff said that any money generated through the program would come on top of money already paid into social security.

Romanoff pointed to legislation he voted on and signed as Speaker of the House in 2005 that called on the congressional delegation to protect Social Security from privatization. The bill, SJ-006, resolved to ensure that any changes made to Social Security would not affect guaranteed payouts or divert money out of Social Security to fund private accounts.

Romanoff said his votes demonstrated clearly that he has always opposed Social Security privatization. Project Vote Smart, a vote tracker, also gave Romanoff top scores from seniors citizen groups throughout his legislative career.

Romanoff told the Colorado Independent that it was absurd to attack the 2004 legislation for not specifically prohibiting the diversion of Social Security funds into private accounts because that was never part of the proposal.

“If your opponent can accuse you of voting a certain way because a resolution does not exclude an option…” he said, if that’s the case, any vote cast by anyone could fall prey to criticism. “[The bill] doesn’t say we aren’t going to invade Australia either.”

The Bennet flier also raised the question of whether or not big bank campaign money contributed to Romanoff’s 2004 vote. Romanoff Deputy Campaign Manager Berrick Abramson called the accusation a flat-out lie. “At the time of the vote, Romanoff had not received any money from big banks,” Abramson said.   

“What the mailer doesn’t show is that the members of the general assembly do not support cuts to social security benefits. I voted against cuts to social security benefits,” Romanoff said.

Followup calls to the Bennet campaign weren’t immediately returned.

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