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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Boyd once stood with Republicans on Social Security, now uses it to attack GOP opponent

7

September

2005: As President Bush argued for Social Security reform during his State of the Union address, many of the Democrats crowded into the Capitol booed or hissed or, at best, sat silently. All except for the man sitting near the back, the tall rangy guy with the tanned face and white hair.

Boyd The lawmaker was Rep. Allen Boyd, a long-serving Democrat from the Florida Panhandle. A day before applauding Bush, Boyd stood with a Republican colleague and introduced a bill that would create private Social Security investment accounts. His stand made national news, a lone proponent of an idea his party saw as an insidious assault on a sacred cow.

2010: Facing his toughest re-election campaign, the seven-term congressman is presenting himself as a staunch defender of Social Security. He has launched a TV ad accusing his Republican opponent, Steve Southerland, of trying to strip away Social Security benefits for the most vulnerable.

Boyd's campaign said the privatization effort was not relevant, even though many Democrats saw that as harmful too.

“Congressman Boyd strongly supports Social Security and wants to protect benefits for retirees and others who depend on the program for financial security. He wants to ensure that these folks can continue to receive benefits, whereas Steve Southerland wants to deny benefits to people with serious mental or physical illnesses who have not worked or cannot work," said spokesman Aaron Blye.

Social Security has become an issue in various Florida races this year.

Marco Rubio this year said he'd be open to changing the system, drawing criticism from Democrats and Charlie Crist. Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Orlando has pounced on comments about entitlement programs made by his Republican opponent, Dan Webster.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a South Florida Democrat who plays a major role in the party's national election effort, picked up the ball for Grayson on CNN. But her attack earned a "barely true" rating from PolitiFact Florida.

And Tuesday morning, the Florida Democratic Party raised questions about a report that Rick Scott once favored privatizing Medicare. "Does Rick Scott Want to Privatize Social Security Too?" asks spokesman Eric Jotkoff in an e-mail to reporters.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:27am]

    

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