GOP senator refuses to answer questions about her secret plan to cut Social Security


Sen. Joni Ernst previously said she would like Congress to meet 'behind closed doors' to talk about Social Security.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) avoided reporter questions on Thursday about her desire for Congress to hide from the public when discussing possible changes and cuts to Social Security, according to a video posted by liberal research firm American Bridge.

"Senator, why do you want to change Social Security in secret?" Ernst was asked as she exited a car.

Ernst refused to answer the question and quickly walked away, ducking into what appeared to be the Kimpton George Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. In a press release, American Bridge said Ernst was there for a private fundraiser.

The question arose from controversial comments Ernst made about Social Security at a town hall in late August. Ernst spoke about Social Security, saying Congress needs to "sit down behind closed doors" to discuss the program in order to avoid "being scrutinized by this group or the other."

A video of her remarks was first released by American Bridge, and both the Iowa Starting Line and Washington Post subsequently reported on the remarks.

In the past, Ernst has floated privatizing Social Security as a possible option.

Ernst's comments about Social Security were met with concern by some groups in Iowa.

"We knew that after the Republican tax bill (which Ernst supported) was passed, Senate Republicans would use the bill as an excuse to go after Social Security and Medicare — and that is exactly what they are going to do," Emily Holley, executive director of Iowa Voices, said in a statement on Sept. 5. "Now she is openly mocking her constituents by leaving them out of the conversation and moving behind closed doors."

"Iowa families deserve better," Holley added.

Zach Hudson, a spokesperson for American Bridge, said Ernst's decision to avoid questions about her controversial remarks spoke volumes.

"We guess we shouldn’t be surprised that a politician who said she wants to change Social Security in secret to avoid scrutiny would be afraid to answer questions about it as she sprints into a swanky fundraiser," Hudson said on Thursday. "If Joni Ernst is so proud of her plan to gut Social Security, maybe she should actually start talking about it instead of relying on her D.C. handlers to whisk her away from questions."

It is unclear if Ernst discussed her remarks about cutting social security at the private fundraiser.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.