Putnam ad: DeSantis voted to cut Medicare, Social Security; Democrats: Putnam did too

The entitlement programs take center stage in Putnam's latest ad.
In Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam's latest ad, he accuses his Republican opponent of voting to cut Medicare and Social Security.
In Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam's latest ad, he accuses his Republican opponent of voting to cut Medicare and Social Security.
Published July 17, 2018

It's that time in the campaign season when candidates start accusing each other of trying to take away granny's health care.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is airing a new ad that takes aim at his Republican primary opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis, for votes in Congress that could have affected benefits for Social Security and Medicare.

Florida is home to more seniors than any other state, so entitlement programs are perennially a hot button topic in local and statewide races. But in additional twist, the ad also claims DeSantis' votes are antithetical to President Donald Trump's agenda for the popular entitlement programs for senior citizens.

DeSantis, of course, has earned Trump's emphatic endorsement.

A handful of seniors the ad labels as residents of the retirement enclave Sun City Center say DeSantis voted to cut the two programs and "even voted to increase the retirement age."

"Trump has got our back, but I'm not so sure about Ron DeSantis," an older gentleman says.

DeSantis spokesman Dave Vasquez asserted that Putnam is on the attack because he lost his lead in the polls "while running the most expensive, failing campaign in recent memory."

Putnam, Vazquez said, is "attacking conservative veteran Ron DeSantis, who's been endorsed by President Trump for supporting plans to help secure the future of Medicare and social security by trotting out a tired, false Democrat attack line."

But in 2015, the Republican Study Committee, a precursor to the Freedom Caucus that DeSantis is a part of, suggested a budget that would have raised the age for Social Security to 70 and Medicare to 67 in order to shrink the national debt. DeSantis voted for it.

The budget proposal also turned Medicare into a premium support system, meaning the federal government would pay for seniors to purchase private health insurance, a Medicare Advantage plan or traditional Medicare. Conservatives say it introduces competition into the market and encourages seniors to be cost-conscious when choosing insurance; Democrats say it's a path to privatizing a long-standing government benefit for seniors.

Additionally, the proposal DeSantis voted for provided less generous cost of living increases in Social Security.

DEFENDING TRUMP, THREATENING SHUTDOWNS: What 5 years in Congress tell us about Ron DeSantis.

Florida Democrats, though, were quick to point out that Putnam has endorsed some of the same proposals that his campaign is going after DeSantis for.

For example, they highlighted a 2005 news story in which Putnam suggested raising the retirement age to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security.

MORE: How Adam Putnam's votes in Congress might haunt his bid for governor

Putnam also voted for the 2009 budget proposal authored by Rep. Paul Ryan that became the blueprint for many of the changes to Medicare, including the so-called private voucher system, later adopted in part by the Republican Study Committee.

In the ad, a woman also says DeSantis "spent too much time in Washington."

DeSantis is in his sixth year in Congress. Putnam served 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.