RICHMOND — The Democratic Party of Virginia released a new television ad Tuesday that focuses on Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II’s criticism of Medicare and Social Security.
The 30-second spot, titled “Peggy,” features a senior citizen from the suburban Richmond swing territory of Henrico County.
“I started working when I was about 16 years old and I worked for about 60 years,” she says. “Now I’m retired and I do rely on Social Security and Medicare. I think Ken Cuccinelli does not care about people like me. In his book, Cuccinelli questions whether Medicare and Social Security should exist, and said people are dependent on government. It scares me to think of Ken Cuccinelli as governor. I think he is way out of touch with everybody.”
The ad refers to a book that Cuccinelli, the incumbent attorney general who faces Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), published earlier this year: “The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty.”
The book focuses on what Cuccinelli contends is federal overreach by the Obama administration, centering chiefly on his opposition to the federal health-care law he refers to as “Obamacare.” Cuccinelli suggests that “bad politicians” have expanded a range of entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security, to breed dependency and shore up their own power.
“The amazing thing is that they often grow government without protest from citizens, and sometimes they even get buy-in from citizens — at least from the ones getting the goodies,” he writes. “One of their favorite ways to increase their power is by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits, such as Medicare, Social Security, and outright welfare (Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing and the like). These programs make people dependent on government. And once people are dependent, they feel they can’t afford to have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run, or costly to the rest of society.”
The ad shows the cover of the book and directs viewers to page 62, where that passage appears. Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Brian Coy declined to release details about where or when the ad will air. It is the party’s second ad of the campaign.
The Cuccinelli campaign responded by noting that the Republican has the support of the 60 Plus Association, which bills itself as the conservative alternative to the AARP. The group has praised Cuccinelli for “protecting seniors’ pocketbooks, promoting safe neighborhoods, fighting for energy independence or serving as a watchdog against consumer scams targeted toward older folks.”
“Contrary to my opponent’s deliberate attempts to distort the truth, I have always believed programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are government services that should be maintained,” Cuccinelli said in a statement released by his campaign. “I believe in a social safety net, but unlike my opponent, I’m going to be straight with Virginians on this issue. I believe those programs need to be reformed so they can be maintained for future generations. ”
The Cuccinelli campaign noted later Tuesday that Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, had analyzed the ad and found that it had gone “a little too far when it says GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s new book ‘questions whether Medicare and Social Security should exist.’ ”
Factcheck.org notes that on pages 237 and 238 of the book, Cuccinelli states flatly that he is not questioning the existence of those programs. He makes that statement in the context of a broader argument about economic growth and how it is affected by private-sector spending vs. government spending, Factcheck.org found.
“I’m not questioning here the existence of these programs nor the wisdom of how much money is spent on them,” Cuccinelli wrote. “What I’m trying to illustrate is that most dollars that government spends do not create economic growth but instead take money out of the hands of the people who do create economic growth.”