The Iowa Senate race between Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley offers the clearest example of a politician’s hypocrisy you’ll ever find: Today Ernst took the precise position on the Social Security retirement age that she criticized Braley for just hours before.
Joni Ernst is attacking Bruce Braley for saying it might be necessary to raise the retirement age. Here’s what Ernst wrote in a September 3, 2014 Des Moines Register op-ed: “my opponent, Congressman Bruce Braley disagrees … previously told the Cedar Rapids Gazette that raising the retirement age ‘might be necessary.’ I could not disagree more.”
The Braley quote to which Ernst is referring specifically indicated that such an increase would be like the increase that occurred during the Reagan administration. The 2006 Cedar Rapids Gazette article does not appear to be freely available online, but it has been quoted by the Iowa Republican Party, attacking Braley on Ernst’s behalf. Here’s the excerpt, as re-printed in an August 25, 2014 Iowa GOP press release: “With life expectancy growing, raising the retirement age – similar to the adjustment made under the Reagan administration – might be necessary, Braley said.”
According to the Social Security Administration, the “adjustment made under the Reagan administration” occurred in 1983, and “first affect[ed] individuals retiring in 2000.” Those changes, therefore, affected only people who were in their 40s or younger when the law was changed in 1983. That’s the model Braley pointed to: An increase in the retirement age for people currently in their 40s or younger.
On September 3, 2014 — the same day her op-ed attacking Braley for being open to an increase in the retirement age for people in their 40s or younger — Joni Ernst herself said she was open to doing exactly the same thing. The Des Moines Register’s Kathie Obradovich reported on of a September 3, 2014 Ernst campaign event: “When a reporter asked, however, Ernst did not rule out the possibility that the retirement age might be raised for people who are now in their 30s or 40s.”
Therefore, Joni Ernst today expressed precisely the same position for which her op-ed in this morning’s newspaper attacked Bruce Braley for holding in 2006. Precisely. The. Same.
Ernst’s hypocrisy could not possibly be more direct, or more clear. Any news outlet that covers her attacks on Braley over the retirement age has an obligation to make this hypocrisy clear, by explaining that Ernst currently holds precisely the same position she is criticizing.