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Ernst calls for Congress to fix Social Security ‘behind closed doors’

  September 5, 2019 | By Rachel Frazin, The Hill

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said at a recent town hall that lawmakers should discuss changes to Social Security “behind closed doors,” sparking criticism from Democrats and advocacy groups.

Ernst made the comments Saturday, according to a video posted by the Democratic super PAC American Bridge. The remarks began to receive wider attention after being reported by the liberal news website Iowa Starting Line on Wednesday.

“As various parties and members of Congress, we need to sit down behind closed doors so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other and just have an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining social security in the future,” Ernst told a town hall audience in Estherville, Iowa.

Ernst, who is running for reelection in 2020, received pushback for her remarks on social media, including from one of her four Democratic challengers.

“The only people squealing from Joni Ernst’s toxic record are Iowans who rely on Social Security,” Theresa Greenfield, a real estate executive who has launched a bid against Ernst, tweeted Wednesday. “We work hard for these earned benefits and deserve better than a senator who plays games with retirement security.”

American Bridge tweeted, “@SenJoniErnst’s plan to privatize Social Security is so toxic, she wants to keep it a secret to avoid ‘media scrutiny.’ “

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