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Local Campaign Ad Raising Ire Of National Group

GOP-Democratic logos: DonkeyHotey/Flickr, 21st District Map: U.S. House

An ad running in the northern New York Congressional race has caught the attention of a national advocacy group. And they’re not happy with what it says about Social Security.

In New York’s 21st Congressional district race, one of Republican Elise Stefanik’s ads criticizes her Democratic opponent’s Social Security policies.  “The cost of Woolf’s irresponsible approach: Three thousand dollars in social security cuts every year for our seniors and bankruptcy for future generations.”

Oh, but wait a second. That sentence has raised the hackles of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  “It’s pretty misleading and mainly because it omits a lot of crucial information.”

Dan Adcock is Director of Government Relations and Policy for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  “If Congress does nothing between now and 2033 yes there will be an approximately 25 percent cut in benefits if nothing is done between now and then. But we believe from conversations we’ve had with Aaron Woolf  that’s not the case, that he does support some proposals that address the financing of the Social Security system. So that’s why we believe the ad’s misleading. On the bankruptcy part Social Security never goes bankrupt.  Because of the fact that Ms. Stefanik’s record on what she would do with Social Security is so unclear the charge that she makes in the ad, she’s just as guilty of, if you go by just what’s in the ad and the lack of information of where she stands on these programs.”

Stefanik campaign manager Lenny Alcivar said the ad stands for itself. He was adamant the campaign would not discuss claims made by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, calling the group a partisan political organization whose only interest is getting Stefanik’s opponent elected.

Democrat Aaron Woolf says his campaign is not working with the national group to push back against the ad.  “It’s gratifying that there are other groups out there that are affirming what we are saying:  that this ad is erroneous and a scare tactic. That ad is a completely misleading and invented statistic that has to do with speculation twenty or thirty years down the road. It is absolutely irresponsible to run that, to frighten the voters, to frighten the seniors in this district.  Coming up with absolutely erroneous charges is misleading and unfair to the public.”
The Sabato Crystal Ball, run by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, analyzes House races across the country. Managing Editor Kyle Kondik notes that for decades both Democrats and Republicans have traded barbs on their Social Security stances.  “Fearmongering on Social Security and Medicare is a bi-partisan political tradition in American politics. But I will say the Democrats traditionally have a little bit more success on that than Republicans do.”  

In the case of NY’s 21st district race, Kondik says the race is leaning Republican with other factors that may influence the outcome.  “Elise Stefanik has opened up something of a lead. One of the big Democratic outside goups - House Majority PAC which supports Democratic House candidates across the country - they decided to pull some money out of this district. There’s also a Green Party candidate in this race who seems to be taking votes away from Aaron Woolf.  That’s also a problem for the Democrats in this district. It’s also ancestrally a Republican district, although I think it’s trending Democratic.  But it’s not so Democratic at this point that in a Republican-leaning mid-term year the Republicans can’t win and I think that they’re probably favored to at this point.”

In the latest WWNY-7 News/Siena College poll, Stefanik had a 13-point lead over Woolf and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello.

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