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2020

Joe Biden surrogates including Audrey Gibson blast Mike Bloomberg’s 2009 Social Security comments

Bloomberg compared Social Security to a Ponzi scheme.

Florida surrogates for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, including Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, are blasting rival candidate Mike Bloomberg for comments he made in 2009 calling Social Security “a Ponzi scheme.”

In addition to Gibson, Sen. Kevin Rader and Reps. Joe Geller, Geraldine Thompson, and Tracie Davis also go after Bloomberg for comments he made in 2013 calling for cuts to entitlement progams, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Both of Bloomberg’s past comments came as Bloomberg, then New York City Mayor and still a Republican, appeared on a weekly radio show in New York called  “Live from City Hall.”

“Mike Bloomberg’s real positions on issues impacting working families and seniors are summed up by calling Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme,’ insinuating that seniors are stealing money they worked for and saying cuts to Social Security as well as Medicare and Medicaid have to be part of an equation to reducing the federal deficit, are unacceptable and come dangerously close to mimicking the most anti-working families president of our time, Donald Trump.,” Gibson declared in a news release issued Thursday by Biden’s campaign. “We need a candidate who can beat Trump, not be Trump. That candidate is Joe Biden.”

“Social Security, it’s a Ponzi scheme. I don’t know if [Ponzi schemer] Bernie Madoff got his idea from there, but if there’s ever a Ponzi scheme, people say Madoff was the biggest? Wrong. Social Security is, far and away,” Bloomberg said in the 2009 radio show, according to audio presented and reported on Wednesday by CNN.

During the 2013 show, Bloomberg discussed what to do about federal deficit spending. He argued to repeal President George W. Bush‘s tax cuts. Then he adds, “if you don’t cut entitlements, the rest is a joke.”

Biden’s supporters blasted the comments Thursday as Florida’s March 17 Democratic primary fast approaches, with the latest survey from St. Pete Polls showing Biden pulling ahead of Bloomberg in what is beginning to look like a two-Democrat battle for the Sunshine State’s 219 committed delegates.

“Past comments by Mayor Bloomberg calling Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme’ are greatly concerning to me and my constituents,” Rader wrote in the release. “Social Security has allowed America’s seniors to retire with dignity and is a program to be celebrated and protected — not insulted.”

“Mike Bloomberg calling Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme’ is disgraceful, but expected,” Thompson said in the release. “His track record is one against working people, whether it’s through courting Wall Street throughout his time as Mayor or systematically targeting people of color during his time as Mayor of New York. His comments are disqualifying and an offense to my many constituents who depend on social security.”

Bloomberg’s campaign released a statement from spokesman Stu Loeser: “The Social Security Administration itself gives out detailed actuarial tables on when and how payments will exceed income, and the issue needs attention because we’re running the cushion between them down.”

“Mike believes that between now and that time, we will need to boost receipts by raising contributions from those who can best afford it, which is what he’ll do as President,”  Loeser continued.

The campaign also touted Bloomberg’s platform statements on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

But those past comments drew strong fire Thursday.

“There is no place in the Democratic presidential primary for a candidate who would attack Social Security. Mike Bloomberg’s comments on Social Security are an affront to the many Floridians that benefit from the program, as well as the core values of what our party stands for. At such a pivotal moment, Democrats need a leader who will stand up for our party and our values. I know that leader is Joe Biden,” Geller said.

Davis said she’s not convinced Bloomberg understands what it means to be a Democrat.

“Labeling a government program as important as Social Security a ‘Ponzi scheme’ is exactly the rhetoric and messaging that Democrats are fighting against in Tallahassee and nationwide. We need a true Democrat at the top of the ticket in November 2020, someone that has fought for our party and will work to expand our coalition, not work actively against it like Mike has. As president, Joe Biden will protect social security, as well as other government programs that enormously benefit working people,” Davis said.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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