Caplis and Silverman allowed O'Donnell to misrepresent his past call to "eliminate" Social Security
Research ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman allowed Republican 7th Congressional District candidate Rick O'Donnell to misrepresent the substance of a 1995 essay in which O'Donnell called for Social Security to be "eliminate[d]."
On the August 9 broadcast of KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show, hosts Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman allowed Republican 7th Congressional District candidate Rick O'Donnell to misrepresent the substance of a 1995 essay in which O'Donnell called for Social Security to be "eliminate[d]." Referring to O'Donnell's essay, Caplis asked: "[A] big attack on you has to do with Social Security -- a claim that you want to disband Social Security based on a paper you wrote 10 or 12 years ago. Where do you come down on that?" In response, O'Donnell falsely claimed, "[A]t the time I wrote a paper saying, 'Social Security needs to be fixed, and I think a way to fix it is to do X.' " Neither Caplis nor Silverman challenged O'Donnell's statement.
In fact, O'Donnell's essay, titled "For Freedom's Sake, Eliminate Social Security," called for ending Social Security, not "fix[ing]" it. As the Rocky Mountain News reported on July 11, O'Donnell's essay "call[ed] for the abolishment of Social Security." O'Donnell argued that "it is time to slay the largest government 'entitlement' program of all, Social Security," and suggested telling Americans that Social Security "won't be there for them." According to the News, O'Donnell's essay further stated: "There is an even more important moral question raised by the government's role as chief provider in old age. ... It sends the un-American message that it is not your responsibility to take care of yourself."
O'Donnell's essay appeared in the February 1995 issue of American Civilization, a publication of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's (R-GA) Progress and Freedom Foundation. At the time, O'Donnell was serving as editor of the publication.
The July 11 News article reported that O'Donnell "said he has since changed his position and wants voters to know, before Democrats slam him, that he now favors fixing Social Security, not abandoning it."
From the August 9 broadcast of KHOW's The Caplis and Silverman Show:
CAPLIS: Wanted to dive into the meat of the issues with Rick right now. And Rick, right out of the chute, looks like a big attack on you has to do with Social Security, a claim that you want to disband Social Security based on a paper you wrote 10 or 12 years ago. Where do you come down on that?
O'DONNELL: You know, I did. When I was a young man, 24 years old, I decided and thought, as long did Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that the Baby Boomers retiring -- headed toward retirement -- Social Security will eventually go insolvent, and we need to fix it. And at the time, I wrote a paper saying, "Social Security needs to be fixed, and I think a way to fix it is to do X." You know, over a dozen years later, I'm better informed and no longer agree with that statement. My opponent wants to somehow wave a 12-year-old paper around that, frankly, I wrote when I wasn't even old enough to serve in Congress as some big problem. And, you know, today I think that Social Security still needs to be fixed.