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Alison Morano to lead Florida campaign challenging Marco Rubio on Social Security

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A progressive advocacy group that doesn’t want any significant changes to Social Security announced on Monday they’ll be targeting Florida Senator Marco Rubio and other Republicans.

Americans United for Change announced Monday a six-figure, five-state ‘Hands Off My Social Security!’ campaign “to prevent a surprise attack after the November election” on Social Security, and Alison Morano will lead the effort here in Florida. Morano, the vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party and former chair of the Pasco County Democrats, will will work on trying to get Rubio to back off his previous comments on the issue by having him a pledge to strengthen the program.

“If Senator Rubio refuses to sign this pledge against benefit cuts and privatization, he will be hounded to explain why wherever he goes,” Morano said on Monday. “We’ll be there at his public events, at his offices, outside his closed door fundraisers, and on social media. If he won’t answer why, why should voters trust him to not undermine their retirement security? If Rubio prefers to let his record speak for itself, then fine. He’s on tape claiming Social Security “weakened us as a people” even though Americans work very hard to pay into the system.  The record shows that the first chance he got, Senator Rubio would force seniors to tough it out another year or so by raising the retirement age including those with physically demanding jobs. Rubio also used to be a big advocate of privatizing Social Security and letting his big donor friends on Wall Street get their hands on earned benefits. Rubio claims he’s changed his mind on privatization, but then he voted in 2015 against a measure to make it harder to pass such a proposal. Like privatization, voting for Senator Rubio is a risky gamble for Florida Seniors.”

The 45-year-old Rubio is running for reelection to his Senate seat against Democrat Patrick Murphy, the 33-year-old Representative from Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Currently, Social Security’s trust fund is expected to run dry in 2033 — at which point, the agency will rely on payroll taxes to fund 77% of promised benefits. Rubio has said that the longer that issue takes to getting addressed, ” the harder it will be to fix and the more disruptive those fixes will be.”

Among those fixes he’s proposed include reducing benefits for wealthy seniors, eliminate the payroll tax for older workers, and eliminate the earnings test for those who claim Social Security before their full retirement age.

Among the comments that AUFC takes exception to in their press release include when Rubio said that programs like Social Security and Medicare have “actually weakened us as a people.”

“Patrick Murphy’s liberal supporters are distorting Marco’s positions, just like Murphy distorted his own resume,” responded Rubio campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas. “Marco’s own mother relies on Social Security as her sole source of income. Marco would never do anything to hurt his mother or the millions of Florida seniors who depend on Social Security and Medicare, and he’ll continue to fight to strengthen the programs for future generations.”

The Rubio campaign adds that his website does not advocate cutting benefits to Social Security or Medicare, and that he does not support privatization.

Americans United for Change was founded in 2005 as Americans United to Protect Social Security, which was built to oppose George W. Bush’s surprise plan to privatize Social Security. The plan died after he failed to get sufficient support in Congress.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Retired Americans announced on Monday that they too will challenge Rubio to sign a pledge to protect Social Security. They will do so this Wednesday when they visit his district office in Jacksonville.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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