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Tag: arizona gop

Arizona GOP Senate Candidate Wants To Privatize Social Security

.Arizona Republican Senate candidate Jim Lamon has repeatedly said he wants to save and preserve Social Security. But his own campaign website reveals that he aims to raise the program's eligibility age and to privatize it, leaving millions of Americans to fend for themselves.

In a video message on his website, Lamon claims, "Social Security is headed for a train wreck, for bankruptcy. Politicians who kick the can down the road, we must save Social Security. I intend to be bold in the U.S. Senate to make it happen."

"So we got to get the priorities: national defense, internal security, border control, our law enforcement agencies, those people who can't provide for themselves mentally, physically, and also, of course, Social Security, Medicare," he said in a November radio appearance with Arizona talk show host Jeff Oravits.

But his campaign policy page reveals that his idea of saving Social Security is actually making significant cuts to the program and privatizing it for people who are not yet retired.

After blaming the "deterioration" of the 87-year-old entitlement program on China and abortion, Lamon calls for a series "fundamental systemic improvements."

First, he says, America must "gradually increase the benefits access age" because "47% of people on Social Security are younger than 65; the intent was never to support people still well able to work."

According to the Social Security Administration, workers can access benefits if they are at least 62 years old, disabled, or blind. Dependent family members can also receive benefits in some circumstances. Lamon's plan would force those people to work longer to receive the benefits they are entitled to receive.

A Lamon spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Lamon also calls for "universal savings accounts" that would allow individuals in invest their money in risky retirement funds rather than guaranteed government retirement benefits. He calls this an "option for every worker to enjoy the benefit from investment in the US economy while also creating a tangible, inheritable asset for their children, instead of the government-controlled trust fund model."

That would turn Social Security from a pension program into a government-endorsed 401(K) plan. Under then-President George W. Bush in the early 2000s and again in 2018, Republicans unsuccessfully pushed similar privatization schemes.

Experts say a plan like this would benefit the wealthiest Americans and put millions of future retirees at the mercy of the stock market. Someone who put their Social Security funds into a bad investment could be left with nothing, leading to exactly the sort of poverty for senior citizens that the program was designed to end.

In a 1997 article, Brookings Institution economist Henry Aaron wrote that privatizing Social Security was "a bad idea whose time will never come."

"It is far and away the most important U.S. antipoverty program," Aaron wrote of the existing system. "Privatization is a bad idea because it places risks on individual workers that they should not be expected to shoulder and that Social Security now spreads broadly among all workers. It would create costly and needless administrative burdens."

Polls show little support for what Lamon wants to do.

An August 2020 survey by AARP found that 96% of American adults said Social Security was either the most important program or one of the most important programs the government operates.

Another poll that month, conducted by Data for Progress, found 54% of likely voters ranked "preventing cuts to Social Security benefits" as their most important issue for the 2020 election.

Lamon has also been open about his desire to cut Social Security and other entitlement programs.

In a January appearance on the right-wing Charlie Kirk Show, he said that he would preserve the programs for those who already rely on Social Security and Medicare, but "after that, Charlie, everything's on the table" for cuts. "And I intend to be brutal," he promised.

In a radio interview that month on Tucson radio station KVOI's Inside Track, Lamon endorsed entitlement cuts to balance the federal budget, saying, "'Oh Jim, are you going to take those?' You're damn right, because that's where the money is."

After Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, released his party's "Rescue America" plan, which includes letting Social Security and Medicare expire every five years and be subject to reapproval by the Congress, Lamon embraced the package. He joked to supporters in March that it appeared Scott could have plagiarized the plan from his own website, claiming, "Looks awfully familiar!"

While Republicans have long wanted to dismantle Social Security and other government entitlement programs, in 2016 candidate Donald Trump ran on a promise to preserve the programs without cuts.

"Every Republican wants to do a big number of Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid," he said in April 2015, just before kicking off his campaign. "And we can't do that. And it's not fair to the people that have been paying in for years."

"I'm not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid," he reaffirmed in May 2015.

As he did with most of his major campaign promises, Trump abandoned this pledge, vowing in January 2020 that he would make major cuts to the social safety net "toward the end of the year" because he had such a great economy.

Lamon was not only a strong Trump supporter; he also fraudulently pretended to be an elector for Trump in the Electoral College after President Joe Biden won the presidential election in Arizona in 2020.

Lamon has a complicated relationship with government programs. In a March fundraising email, he decried COVID-19 pandemic relief legislation, including the Paycheck Protection Program that provided billions in forgivable loans to businesses, as a "socialist spending binge." But DEPCOM Power, an energy company he founded and ran at the time, took $2.6 million in funds from that very program in May 2020.

Recent polling by RealClearPolitics shows Lamon and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich as front-runners for the GOP nomination for Senate, with venture capitalist Blake Masters close behind.

The winner will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly on Nov. 8.

Kelly has pledged not to dismantle entitlement programs, saying in a 2020 ad, "I've got a message for Arizonans: I will protect Social Security and Medicare. Period."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

QAnon Founder Will Appear On Arizona GOP Primary Ballot

QAnon leader Ron Watkins gathered enough signatures to make it onto Arizona's Republican congressional primary ballot, the Phoenix New Times reported. Watkins shared the news to his nearly 400,000 followers on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app. He first announced his intention to run last October.

"Our fight is just beginning," he wrote.

Watkins also recorded a video that was posted to Twitter.

"Hello, I just got a confirmation from Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs [D] that I am the first congressional candidate certified for the 2022 ballot in Arizona's Congressional District Number 2," the conspiracy theorist told his followers.

The Grand Canyon State's secretary of state's office requires prospective candidates to collect 1,400 names to qualify. Watkins surpassed that total with 1,741. He faces an upward climb toward power, though, as there is a cluster of hopefuls looking to oust the current officeholder.

"Watkins is hoping to unseat Democratic incumbent Tom O'Halleran in Arizona's newly redrawn 2nd Congressional District. It's the largest district in Arizona, spanning the rural northeast stretches of the state," noted the Phoenix New Times. "But Watkins will have to beat out a slate of Republican challengers who are vying for O'Halleran's seat."

Meanwhile, on his Telegram channel, Watkins shared an alarming story from one of his fans.

"I asked an elderly lady this afternoon if she was a Republican, and she replied, 'If I ever found out my kids voted Democrat, I would shoot them dead,'" Watkins recalled to the Times in a phone call.

He said that he knocked on "thousands of doors" and that he "met many, many people, and they're all excited about my campaign."

The Times noted, however, that Watkins has not raised large amounts of money, which is generally required for mounting a successful bid in a national election.

"Watkins has raised $31,000 from donations. He reported only one donation from Arizona, the filings show. And $3,000 of that sum was a contribution from his father," the paper revealed. "Still, Watkins is unconcerned about money, he said. 'My message vibes with all the people,' he explained, saying that the number of petition signatures showed he had 'grassroots support.'"

Arizona's primary will take place on Tuesday, August 2nd.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

GOP Lawmaker Who Signed Fake Electoral Certificate Ran Pro-Trump 'Troll Farm'

Arizona Republican State Representative Jake Hoffman made news this week when it was revealed he signed a forged “certification” falsely stating Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, won his state’s Electoral College electors.

Video that’s gone viral of Hoffman shows him defending signing the forged documents in which he falsely identifies himself as a duly elected elector for Trump.

His defense: “in unprecedented times, unprecedented action does occur.” He goes on to claim, “there is no case law, there is no precedent that exists as to whether or not an election that is currently being litigated in the courts has due standing.”

He called the forged electoral documents “dueling opinions” in this video:

The video has been viewed over 800,000 times in just 14 hours.

Hoffman, it turns out, was banned from Twitter after his company, Rally Forge, worked with Charlie Kirk’s far right-wing political activist group, Turning Point USA, during the 2020 election, establishing “a domestic ‘troll farm’ in Phoenix, Arizona. It employed teenagers to churn out pro-Trump social media posts, some of which cast doubt on the integrity of the US election system or falsely charged Democrats with attempting to steal the election, the Washington Post revealed,” according to The Guardian.

The Washington Post also reported that “the posts are the product of a sprawling yet secretive campaign that experts say evades the guardrails put in place by social media companies to limit online disinformation of the sort used by Russia during the 2016 campaign.”

Some of those teens, the Post noted, were minors.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Arizona GOP Hires Conspiracy Theorist To Conduct Third 2020 Election ‘Audit’

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann announced that she has hired Cyber Ninjas, a firm led by a Donald Trump supporter who was active in pushing "Stop the Steal" conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, to conduct an audit of the state's election results.

This is the third audit to be conducted in the state as Republicans continue to push the lie that the election was stolen from Trump due to mass voter fraud — a lie that's been debunked multiple times by the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and two previous audits of Arizona's ballots.

Fann said the third audit will consist of a full hand recount of 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, the most populous county in the state and formerly a Republican stronghold.

Fann had first announced that Allied Security Operations, a firm with a history of pursuing false claims of election fraud, would do the audit, but later said she hadn't decided.

Now she's officially announced that Cyber Ninjas will lead the audit, to be conducted with along with three other firms.

The Arizona Mirror reported on the long history of statements on social media posted by Cyber Ninjas owner Doug Logan pushing pro-Trump conspiracy theories about election fraud.

According to the report, posts on Logan's now-deleted Twitter account included claims that Venezuela rigged voting machines in the United States to steal the election from Trump and hashtags like "#StopTheSteal," the motto of the rally that preceded the attack by supporters of Trump on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

A joint report issued by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security officially debunked the claim that voting machines were rigged in March, and lawyers and officials tied to Trump, as well as right-wing cable networks, are now being sued by voting machine companies for promoting the lie.

What's more, a previous audit Fann ordered found "no hacking or vote switching occurred in the 2020 election."

Democrats responded angrily to Fann's announcement of the firms that will conduct the recount.

"What are we doing other than just undermining the past election and voter confidence?" state Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios told USA Today.

Even Republicans in the state had previously said the audit is unnecessary.

"It's really not a necessary process. So, it's not something I believe that needs to be done or that it should be done," former Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell said last month, adding that a hand recount is prone to human error.

Ultimately, it's unclear what Arizona Republicans want to accomplish with the audit. The election is over; Joe Biden won and is serving as president of the United States.

In addition to challenging the 2020 election results, GOP lawmakers in Arizona are introducing voter suppression laws based on the same false claims of fraud.

Nearly two dozen Republican bills are aimed at making it harder to vote by mail, tightening voter ID requirements, and even giving the state Legislature the ability to ignore the will of the voters and choose presidential electors for the Electoral College.

Arizona Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh defended the bills in March, saying, "There's a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats value as many people as possible voting, and they're willing to risk fraud. Republicans are more concerned about fraud, so we don't mind putting security measures in that won't let everybody vote — but everybody shouldn't be voting."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

State GOP Leaders Lurching Toward Cultism, Secession, And Worse

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

State Republican parties across the country became even more extreme over the first week without Donald Trump in the White House, punishing Republicans who they felt didn't support Trump enough and pushing baseless conspiracy theories that helped lead to the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The actions from state Republican parties are a surefire sign that the GOP cannot easily wipe its hands clean of Trump, even though those like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell want nothing more to do with him following the attacks that led to the death of one Capitol Police officer.

Here's a look at what some state Republican parties have done since President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20:

Arizona Republican Party

On Saturday, the Arizona Republican Party voted to censure the late Sen. John McCain's wife, Cindy, along with former Sen. Jeff Flake and current GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, saying all three were disloyal to Trump.

Both McCain and Flake voted for President Joe Biden, while Ducey refused to overturn Trump's loss in Arizona.

The state party also voted to reelect Kelli Ward — a conspiracy theorist who has surrounded herself with white supremacists — as chair.

Ward told the Associated Press that she is a "Trump Republican" as she dismissed criticism from other state party members who felt she was loyal only to Trump and not the GOP itself.

"The people who are complaining are the people who actually put us in this spot where we are in Arizona, people who have been mamby pamby, lie down and allow the Democrats to walk all over them," Ward — who saw Republicans lose both of Arizona's U.S. Senate seats and Democrats carry the state at the presidential level for the first time since 1996 under her leadership — told the Associated Press.

Texas Republican Party

The Texas GOP announced on Saturday it was joining Gab, a far-right social media platform used by neo-Nazis.

The perpetrator behind the deadly 2018 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue used the site to announce his attack.

In the same tweet announcing it was joining the extremist social media website, the Texas Republican Party also used the phrase "We are the storm." That's a phrase used by followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which many of the insurrectionists involved in the violence at the Capitol follow.

In fact, ABC News reported that many of the most violent insurrectionists have espoused QAnon beliefs.

Yet the Texas GOP, led by extremist Republican Allen West, has been using the phrase for months on its merchandise since West took control.

West has previously said the day Biden's Electoral College victory was certified that Texas should secede.

Oregon Republican Party

On Jan. 19, the day before Biden was sworn in, the Oregon Republican Party passed a resolution calling the insurrection at the Capitol a "false flag" and compared it to the burning of the German Parliament in 1933 that led to the rise of Nazi control.

In a resolution, the state party wrote that there is "growing evidence that the violence as the Capitol was a 'false flag' operation intended to discredit President Trump, his supporters, and all conservative Republicans," the resolution reads. "This provided the sham motivation to impeach President Trump in order to advance the Democrat goal of seizing total power, in a frightening parallel to the February 1933 burning of the German Reichstag."

The Capitol insurrection was proven by many reports not to be a "false flag," but rather an attack carried out by fervent Trump supporters who had been fed a lie for months that the election was stolen. Trump himself told them to fight at the Capitol, comments that led to his second impeachment.

Hawaii Republican Party

The Hawaii Republican Party used its Twitter account on Saturday to promote content from a Holocaust denier, who was making baseless claims about Biden "selling the grid to China and killing diabetes patients."

Wyoming Republican Party

Finally, the chair of the Wyoming Republican Party took a page from West's playbook to suggest his state should consider seceding over Trump's loss.

"We are straight-talking, focused on the global scene, but we're also focused at home. Many Western states have the ability to be self-reliant, and we're keeping eyes on Texas, too, and their consideration of possible secession," Wyoming Republican Party Chair Frank Eathorne said on recently pardoned former Trump associate Steve Bannon's podcast, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Arizona Republican Resigns After Proposing Sterilization Of Poor Women

Former Arizona state senator Russell Pearce resigned from his position as the Arizona Republican Party’s vice chairman on Sunday, after suggesting that Arizona sterilize all women on Medicaid.

“You put me in charge of Medicaid,” Pearce said on his radio show last week, “the first thing I’d do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

Right, because people on Medicaid couldn’t possibly have jobs. And apparently not everyone in the United States has the right to have children.

He later contradicted himself, arguing that the government shouldn’t be involved in people’s lives at all.

“I know there’s people out there [who] need help, and my heart goes out to them, too,” he said. “But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community.”

Though Pearce claims to oppose dependence on the government, he’s didn’t mention the fact that the government pays his own paycheck. He recently accepted a job working for Maricopa County Treasurer Charles Hoskins for $85,000 per year. His job involves promoting the Elderly Assistance Fund, which helps out low-income seniors.

“That is, he’s helping to do exactly what he preaches against on his radio show,” Phoenix New Times’ Stephen Lemons wrote.

Lemons also points out that Pearce is very “influential” in the Arizona GOP, and that many Republican candidates seek out his endorsement.

The Arizona Democratic Party quickly took advantage of Pearce’s influence on other state Republicans to conflate his sterilization comments with the GOP’s values.

“For the first vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party to advocate for forced sterilization is unacceptable,” executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party D.J. Quinlan said. “The silence of Republican leaders like Doug Ducey, Andy Tobin, and Robert Graham is even worse. It indicates that they have made a cynical calculation that Russell Pearce and his brand of politics appeals to the most extreme elements of their electoral base.”

The Republican nominees for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other candidates rushed to denounce Pearce’s comments.

On Sunday night Pearce resigned, claiming that his comments were “written by someone else and [he] failed to attribute them to the author.”

“I do not want the progressive left and the media to try and take a misstatement from my show and use it to attack our candidates. I care about the Republican Party and its conservative platform too much to let them do that,” he said in a statement. “I have no intention of being used as a distraction by the Democrats looking to escape responsibility for their failed policies.”

Pearce’s resignation did not stop the attacks, though. On Monday, Arizona state representative Adam Kwasman (who memorably thought a bus full of kids on their way to camp was transporting migrant children with “fear on their faces”), wrote in the Arizona Capital Times that Pearce’s comments are not only “unacceptable and wholly inappropriate,” but “were profoundly progressive and, in my opinion, betrayed a problematic misunderstanding of the proper moral justification of government.” Kwasman similarly described the eugenics programs of the 1920s as “progressive.”

Pearce had endorsed Kwasman’s failed campaign for Congress.

ThinkProgress’s Bryce Covert notes that Pearce’s “ideas are far from being on the fringe. They in fact help inform our policies.”

She goes on to cite the Nixon administration, which “pushed through funding” for sterilization of low-income women and California’s previous practice of sterilizing women in their prison system.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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