Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist: Shore up Social Security by allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship

Campaigning amid walkers and canes at a Pembroke Pines retirement community, Gov. Charlie Crist pledged Wednesday to protect Social Security and suggested an unconventional solution to shoring up the trust fund: allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship.

Crist called Social Security "one of the only federal programs that's working" and criticized his U.S. Senate rivals for proposing reforms. Republican Marco Rubio has suggested raising the retirement age, while Democrat Kendrick Meek wants to "punt it to a commission," said Crist, a former Republican running without party affiliation.

"I'm the only candidate in the race who is saying we need to preserve it as it is and protect it," Crist told about 400 Century Village residents.

He added: "There are other ways we can help fund it, by creating a pathway to citizenship. Secure the border, make sure we have a pathway that is earned — no amnesty — and if we have those 11 to 14 million people productively participating in the American economy and paying the payroll taxes that would be attended to it, that would help Social Security."

The Republican Party of Florida pilloried Crist's "widely debunked policies that would directly hurt seniors and erode the rule of law." It pointed to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office and the conservative Heritage Foundation that legalizing immigrants would dramatically increase Social Security costs.

Illegal immigrants already contribute an estimated $7 billion in payroll taxes to Social Security but can't get benefits when they retire because of their undocumented status.

"What Crist is saying is baloney. Hokum," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates stricter immigration controls. ''Legalizing them will increase the burden on Social Security."

Asked to back up Crist's position, his campaign pointed to a Christian Science Monitor column by Robert Reich, the labor secretary when Bill Clinton was president.

"One logical way to deal with the crisis of funding Social Security and Medicare is to have more workers per retiree, and the simplest way to do that is to allow more immigrants into the United States," Reich, a Democrat, wrote in April. "Immigration reform and entitlement reform have a lot to do with one another."

And it was Democrats, not Republicans, that Crist was going after Wednesday to support his unprecedented independent bid. He also sent out a mailing this week to Democrats that touts his opposition to expanding offshore oil drilling and his veto of legislation unpopular with public school teachers. "Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate: A Leader who Stands up for Us," the mailer says.

Many of the seniors filing out of the Crist event carried Saran-wrapped leftovers of marble cake and bagels and gushed over the governor's personable demeanor.

"I get a good feeling about him," said 76-year-old Rae Lupo, a lifelong Democrat.

At the same time he is making overtures to Democrats, Crist is struggling to retain Republican votes — but with a different pitch.

"Charlie Crist for U.S. Senate Shares Our Values" is the headline on a mailer sent to Republicans this week that describes him as a fiscal hawk and gun rights advocate.

Targeting voters with tailor-made messages is a widely accepted campaign practice. But Crist's divergent appeals support the relentless criticism by his partisan opponents that he is trying to be all things to all people.

"We're just trying to reach out and communicate as effectively as we can to as many people as possible," Crist said about the mailings.

Crist: Shore up Social Security by allowing illegal immigrants to earn citizenship 09/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 9:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  2. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  3. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  4. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 26-July 2.

    Events

    Vans Warped Tour: The festival returns Saturday to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, featuring shock-metal icons Gwar, hardcore punks Sick Of It All, ska band Save Ferris and indie-pop group Never Shout Never ($39.50-$49.50). vanswarpedtour. …

    Crowd for the Motionless in White band at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour at Vinoy Park, Friday, July 25, 2014.  CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times