Republican U.S. House challenger Mick Mulvaney on Tuesday blasted a TV ad from national Democrats that says he believes Social Security is unconstitutional.
Mulvaney called the 30-second spot "one of the most offensive and frightening ads I think I've ever seen." He said it must mean he's doing well in his bid against U.S. Rep. John Spratt, the incumbent Democrat.
The ad depicts an elderly woman being booked in jail as a narrator tells seniors they can't trust Mulvaney to protect their retirement savings.
Spratt stood by the ad, noting that Mulvaney cast a vote in 2009 expressing that federal mandates that created the Department of Education, Medicaid and the Social Security Administration represent violations of the 10th Amendment.
The 10th Amendment says powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved for the states. Mulvaney's vote reflects an extreme political philosophy, Spratt campaign officials say.
"An ad that says I voted to make Social Security unconstitutional - and then you see a little old lady being put in jail - it's absurd," Mulvaney said. "We are going to keep that (Social Security) promise.
"Everything you are seeing on TV is a shameful lie."
The dust-up highlighted a morning debate hosted by the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce. More than 200 people packed a banquet room at the Fort Mill Golf Club for the second of three debates in the 5th Congressional District contest.
With much of the district suffering from double-digit unemployment, job creation was a major focus.
Spratt said he would support an extension of unemployment benefits and more loan programs to loosen credit from banks.
Mulvaney said repealing the national health care law is the best way to create and protect jobs. The Indian Land state senator also expressed support for eliminating capital gains taxes.
"The last thing we want to do is raise taxes during a recession," Mulvaney said. "We're getting ready to make the same mistake again."
Asked about the Bush-era tax cuts, Mulvaney said he would support making them permanent, while Spratt said he would extend them for one year to give the economy time to recover.
The total cost of the Bush tax cuts is more than $4 trillion over 20 years, Spratt said, noting the need to get a handle on the national debt.
A tightly structured format left little room for direct exchanges, and both candidates stuck mostly to familiar campaign themes. Spratt said four times that he co-authored the Balanced Budget Agreement of 1997.
"I keep coming back to it because it was a monumental piece of legislation," Spratt said. "It's a model for what we need to do now."
Mulvaney turned a question about free trade into a critique of problems with the health care law.
"The reason I'm running is because of the health care bill," he said.
Want to see the ad?
To see a video of the national Democratic Party’s Social Security ad, click here.