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Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) speaks at a news conference on July 21, 2021

Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) speaks at a news conference on July 21, 2021. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Warning Bourdeaux Supports Cuts, Social Security Defenders Back McBath in Georgia Primary

A group that works to defend Social Security endorsed Rep. Lucy McBath, arguing that—unlike her opponent—she "will fight to protect and expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

Jake Johnson

Defenders of Social Security and Medicare are rallying behind Rep. Lucy McBath as she takes on fellow Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in Georgia's 7th Congressional District, a primary contest spurred by the state GOP's aggressive—and, according to rights groups, illegal—redistricting scheme.

After her district was redrawn by the state GOP to heavily favor Republicans, McBath opted to run against Bourdeaux in the 7th District in the May 24 Democratic primary instead of staying in the 6th District and facing likely defeat.

"When Carolyn Bourdeaux said in an interview that she has 'exactly the same plan as Lucy McBath,' she isn't telling you the truth."

While the two Democratic incumbents have been characterized as similar in their policy positions, the Social Security Works PAC—which endorsed McBath last week—challenges that narrative, pointing specifically to Bourdeaux's support for bipartisan legislation that could result in cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

The Social Security Works PAC noted in a statement that after flipping a Georgia House seat from red to blue in 2020, Bourdeaux "became one of a tiny handful of Democrats, along with [Sens.] Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, to co-sponsor a bill called the TRUST Act."

The legislation is the brainchild of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah.), who during his 2012 presidential run proposed raising the Social Security retirement age and privatizing Medicare.

If passed, Romney's bill would require the Treasury Department to produce a report on the federal government's "endangered" trust funds and institute a mandate for Congress to craft legislation that "restores" them—vague language that advocates say opens the door to cuts.

"This is a Republican concoction designed to create yet another 'bipartisan commission' to go behind closed doors and figure out how to cut Social Security and Medicare," said Jon Bauman, president of the Social Security Works PAC.

The organization also said that when it sent Bourdeaux a questionnaire about her views during her 2020 congressional run, she expressed support for means-testing Social Security and "pejoratively referred to the programs as 'entitlements.'"

"When Carolyn Bourdeaux said in an interview that she has 'exactly the same plan as Lucy McBath,' she isn't telling you the truth," Bauman said. "Lucy McBath is not a co-sponsor of the TRUST Act. Neither are the vast majority of House Democrats. Carolyn Bourdeaux is way out of the Democratic mainstream."

McBath, by contrast, is "a proven leader who will fight to protect and expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, while also working to lower the outrageous cost of prescription drugs," Bauman argued.

"We can always count on her to stand up to congressional Republicans, who are relentless in their attacks on the earned benefits our nation's seniors have worked hard for and rely on," he added.

Progressives backing McBath have also called attention to Bourdeaux's alignment with a group of right-wing Democrats that threatened to tank an early framework of the Build Back Better package, which has since died in the U.S. Senate thanks in large part to Manchin's obstruction.

"Our country can't afford to have lawmakers like Henry Cuellar and Carolyn Bourdeaux making decisions anymore."

Last August, Bourdeaux and eight other House Democrats—including Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who is on the verge of losing his seat—penned a Washington Post op-ed demanding that their party's leadership advance a deeply flawed bipartisan infrastructure bill before moving ahead with Build Back Better, which the nine lawmakers would not commit to supporting despite its substantial proposed investments in climate action, healthcare, and other Democratic priorities.

The House Democratic leadership ultimately adopted the right-wing group's suggested approach with the eventual backing of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which had previously warned that approving the bipartisan infrastructure bill first would free conservative Democrats to kill the Build Back Better package—and that's precisely what happened.

"Our country can't afford to have lawmakers like Henry Cuellar and Carolyn Bourdeaux making decisions anymore," Erica Payne, president and founder of the Patriotic Millionaires, said in a statement earlier this year.

Patriotic Millionaires, which supports higher taxes on the rich, included Bourdeaux on a list of 15 incumbent Democrats labeled "The Problem." In January, the progressive group endorsed primary challenges against the 15 lawmakers and vowed to provide financial support to their opponents.

"Their outright sabotage of President Biden's Build Back Better Agenda, likely done on behalf of their donors, left us with no choice—it's time to draw a line in the sand," Payne said. "It's time for the American people to expect better from Democrats, and for the party to hold its elected officials to a higher standard."

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