New Hampshire Senate Republican nominee Don Bolduc is trying soften his pitch to voters while still saying he would privatize Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
On Friday, Bolduc — a far-right candidate and retired Army brigadier general — told New Hampshire Today that he is "not promoting privatization," but he does want to replace Social Security and Medicare with programs that are privately run.
"First of all, our seniors have nothing to worry about with me," Bolduc said on Friday. "I want Granite Staters to know that I will invest in a solid Medicare program that puts them in charge of their health care, not the government, and as far as Social Security goes, we are going to put that money back, we are going to give people the money that they put into it."
At an Aug. 2 town hall event in Pembroke, New Hampshire, Bolduc said he backed the end of the social safety net programs that provide health insurance for millions of older and low-income Americans.
"The privatization is hugely important," Bolduc said at the event, according to Politico. "Getting government out of it, getting government money with strings attached out of it."
At a May 2020 Hillsboro Republican Party meeting, Bolduc said "experts" at the Heritage Foundation — a right-wing think tank that for decades has pushed for privatizing Social Security — had been helping to inform his fiscal policies.
"I've been spending a lot of time on research, and I've been getting a lot of support from the experts at the Heritage Foundation, and I have developed some ideas, and — to go into a plan that will reduce our spending by $10.8 trillion over the next ten years," Bolduc said at the meeting.
He went on to suggest that the United States could reduce the federal deficit by cutting $2 trillion from Social Security, $1.2 trillion from Medicare, and $4 trillion from Medicaid.
At a Republican primary debate in August, Bolduc said he opposes letting Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices because "anything that the government's involved in is not good and doesn't work, period."
At another GOP debate in September, he again urged the replacement of Social Security with "a different system" for future generations.
But now, as a recent Emerson College-WHDH poll shows him trailing Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in the November general election race, Bolduc's campaign is claiming he has changed his position on privatization.
"Having served 10 tours of combat in Afghanistan, General Bolduc relies on his health care from the VA," spokesperson Jimmy Thompson told Politico. "He knows first-hand how important its services are to veterans, and he believes that every American who is eligible should be able to rely on the benefits they have paid into it, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security."
Thompson said Bolduc now "will oppose any effort to privatize these programs."
Bolduc's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for this story.
Hassan responded to the Politico story on Thursday by noting that 370,000 people in New Hampshire rely on Medicare for their health insurance. In a press release, she said:
Don Bolduc is so extreme that he would end Medicare as we know it and take away care from hundreds of thousands of Granite State seniors. While I have a record of fighting to lower costs for seniors, Don Bolduc has actually said that he would end Social Security and Medicare as we know it. New Hampshire seniors have spent their lives paying into Social Security and Medicare, and Don Bolduc would create immeasurable harm by taking away these critical programs.”
Since winning the GOP nomination, Bolduc has walked back his position on a federal abortion ban and has abandoned the conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump was the real winner of the 2020 election.
Other prominent Republicans have also been caught in recent months endorsing the end of the popular public entitlement programs.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has proposed a "Rescue America" plan which calls for a five-year sunset on every single federal program, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
This means that Congress would need to re-pass each of those programs every five years or they would cease to exist.
Arizona Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters said at a June 23 forum hosted by the right-wing advocacy group FreedomWorks, "Maybe we should privatize Social Security, right? Private retirement accounts, get the government out of it."
And on August 2, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told a Wisconsin radio station that Social Security and Medicare should not be mandatory spending.
"What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending, so it's all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt," he said.
Reprinted with permission from American Independent.