The following Truth Test looks at a commercial being run by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and it targets his opponent, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck (R-Colorado). The 30-second ad is set to run 65 times this week on the networks of 9NEWS at a cost of $43,765.
QUOTE: Does Ken Buck speak for you? Buck supports banning common forms of birth control.
TRUTH: This likely depends on what you consider common forms of birth control.
Buck believes life "begins at conception," so birth control methods that don't impact that (i.e. condoms, some forms of the pill) are fine with him. Others that would keep a fertilized egg from implanting like hormone-based birth control methods, some other forms of the pill, IUDs, RU-486 and what's known as the morning-after pill, are not supported by him. (Source: E-mail from Buck spokesman Owen Loftus to 9NEWS, Aug. 26)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latter category included at least 5.2 million women in America between 2006 and 2008 (Source: CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/abc_list_e.htm#emergency)
QUOTE: He called Social Security a "horrible policy" that should be privatized.
TRUTH: Buck does support policies that would allow for some privatization of Social Security, but it's false to say he called the program "horrible policy."
Buck prefers to use the word personalization since the money belongs to the people paying into the system and not to the government instead of privatization, but he has said numerous times, including at the Constitutionalist Today forum in March, that the "the idea the federal government should be running health care or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe and that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better." (Source: Constitutionalist Today Forum, March 9)
He insisted at that forum that "once people pay into it, they have the expectation of getting a return and they're entitled to that." Further, he told 9NEWS during a debate with his Republican primary opponent Jane Norton that "We've got to peg Social Security to individuals so those individuals have the ability perhaps to invest in various funds that are approved by the government. But those individuals also own that fund." (Source: 9NEWS YOUR SHOW Debate, July 22: http://www.9news.com/yourshow/archive.aspx)
Further, the Wall Street Journal reported last month that "Mr. Buck said he would consider some privatization of Social Security but wanted to be sure needy seniors retain a safety net. (Source: Wall Street Journal, July 26: http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704746804575367113727207090.html)
Here is the response from Buck Press Secretary Owen Loftus to this analysis: "Ken is not in favor of privatizing Social Security. Here is Ken's position - For current beneficiaries; the government has made a sacred promise. Current retirees have planned their lives based on these Social Security benefits. For older workers approaching retirement, they have already planned their retirement. We need to ensure that Social Security is solvent for these workers. All ideas should be on the table to ensure this. These can include some sort of means testing, or raising the retirement age to reflect the fact that people live longer than they used to. For younger workers and future generations, the issue isn't Social Security; it's savings. We must ensure that Social Security is there for younger workers when they retire, and that retains its main function as a safety net for retirees. To do this, the government needs to craft policies to encourage younger workers to save more."
The comment about Buck calling Social Security "horrible policy" is taken dramatically out of context as to imply something that is not supported by the video in question nor by any other evidence. What he's calling a "horrible policy" is the transferring of money out of the Social Security Trust Fund and into the federal government's general fund to pay for other programs, not Social Security itself.
Buck was asked by a panelist at the Constitutionalist Today forum whether it is "Constitutional for the government to have a Social Security program where it directs the monies that we put into it?"
Here is Buck's complete answer: "I don't know whether it's Constitutional or not. It is certainly a horrible policy in what happened in the LBJ Administration back in the 60s when they took the money out of the trust fund to fund general fund programs and what we ended up with was a system that will be bankrupt anywhere from 10 to 25 years from now. It is a bad policy. I don't know that the federal government should be involved in a retirement plan. It should be a plan that certainly once people pay into it, they have the expectation of getting a return and they're entitled to that, but the idea the federal government should be running health care or retirement or any of those programs is fundamentally against what I believe and that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better." (Source: Constitutionalist Today Forum, March 9)
Here is the response from Bennet Communications Director Trevor Kincaid to this analysis: "Context again is important here, and in the context of an entire answer in which he explicitly questions whether Social Security should exist at all, Buck's hostility towards the program (at least in its current form) is clear. And calling the program in its current form a horrible policy is calling the program as it exists a horrible policy."
QUOTE: He supports a plan to eliminate Medicare.
TRUTH: This is false.
Bennet says that at the Broomfield Republican Women's Forum on July 15, Buck endorsed a plan by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to balance the budget. Ryan says the plan calls for, among other things, a change in Medicare to allow future beneficiaries to receive payments "to apply to a list of Medicare-certified coverage options," and that payment will increase each year. It's based on the same choices he says he enjoys as a member of Congress. (Source: Washington Post, Aug. 13: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/12/AR2010081204918.html?hpid=opinionsbox1)
Critics have said the plan would lead to a situation where "many frail seniors and people with disabilities would find adequate health insurance coverage priced out of reach." (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3119)
The problem with the assertion is that Buck criticizes the Ryan plan and every other plan out of Washington as not moving fast enough to balance the budget. In fact, in his answer to a question about budget cuts, Buck specifically says the fact under Ryan's plan the budget would not be balanced until the year 2063 is "just unacceptable folks. We've got to do better than that." (Source: Broomfield Republican Women's Forum, July 15: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DlKwK68USs)
His full quote from that event is as follows: "The best plan that I saw to balance this budget is Paul Ryan's plan. He is the minority leader on the House Budget Committee. He has put out a plan that's suggested we can balance the budget through some spending cuts and changing some of our tax structure. Do you know when that would occur? When we would have a balanced budget and deal with this deficit? 2063. And that's the best that anybody's really proposed in Washington, D.C. right now. 2063. That's just unacceptable folks. We've got to do better than that."
Interestingly, it has been argued by the bi-partisan leaders of President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Accountability and Reform that current tax dollars are enough to support Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and all other spending is deficit spending. They have described the country's current $13 trillion debt as a "cancer...that will destroy the country from within" without dramatic action from Congress and the White House. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyoming) and former President Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles are the co-chairs of the commission and they jointly made those remarks in July to the annual meeting of the National Governors Association. (Source: Washington Post, July 12, 2010: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/11/AR2010071101956.html)
Its goal, as described on its website is to "propose recommendations designed to balance the budget, excluding interest payments on the debt, by 2015." To learn more about its work, visit http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/.
Both Simpson and Bowles acknowledged they needed to explore changes to every single government program including entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security in order to control the debt. As Bowles told CNN in February, "If you're not willing to do that, then we're not going to get there." (Source: Real Clear Politics, Feb. 18: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/02/18/interview_with_bowles_and_simpson_104481.html)
Here is the response from Bennet Communications Director Trevor Kincaid to this analysis: "Ken Buck referred to Paul Ryan's plan that cuts Medicaid, Medicare, and the Children's Health Insurance Program as the best he has seen. In fact, Buck said that these harmful cuts weren't going to come fast enough. Independent analysts agree that the Buck-endorsed Ryan plan would be devastating to our federal budget and drive up taxes. That isn't fiscal responsibility."
QUOTE: And Buck wants to outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest.
TRUTH: This is true.
Buck says he would only support abortion if it were to save "the life of the mother." (Source: YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bh0iWCqAkps)
QUOTE: Ken Buck asked the right question. Buck: "I'm an extremist? I'm an extremist."
TRUTH: Buck says what he said immediately after that rhetorical question was something like, "It's the folks in Washington who have created a $13 trillion debt, they're the extremists." (Source: Ken Buck phone conversation with 9NEWS, Aug. 30).
The Bennet campaign did not provide access to this video clip to verify or refute what Buck says.
QUOTE: Ken Buck. He shouldn't be speaking for Colorado.
TRUTH: This is an opinion.
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