Video Shows Mike Lee Arguing for Raising Taxes on the Poor, Forcing Them to Rely on Charity for Health Care, Killing All Entitlements, Banning Contraception, and Against Universal Home-Ownership

Mike Lee, as seen in amateur video at an unidentified event during his 2010 Senate campaign in which he said he wants to kill Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all other federal entitlements.


(Screengrab/YouTube video)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) didn’t just pledge to kill Social Security in a 2010 video clip that’s now gone viral, he advocated raising taxes on the poor and attacked unemployment benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, universal home-ownership, contraceptive rights, and the entire New Deal, additional video clips from the same event show.

In what appears to be a February 2010 appearance during his campaign as a Tea Party challenger of then-Sen. Bob Bennnett (R-UT), Lee also argues that Washington doesn’t have the right to assist people with health care, and that those who can’t afford it will all get health care from charities.

The clips were posted on Feb. 24, 2010, and the account posting them wrote that Lee was addressing residents of Cache Valley at an unidentified event the day before.

Lee, Republican political leaders, and conservative pundits have all denied or tamped down suggestions that the GOP wants to slash decades-old entitlements. Fox’s Sean Hannity claimed falsely on his program this week that “Not a single Republican has ever said” that they want to take away or cut Social Security.

But in brief clips that have circulated online, Lee is seen saying, “It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots, to get rid of it… Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort and need to be pulled up.”

Last week, Lee was asked by the editorial boards of two Utah newspapers about his 2010 remarks on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. He said, “ I don’t recall ever having advocated for dismantling those — that’s sensitive stuff. And I don’t, I don’t recall advocating for dismantling them.”

In fact, in additional clips of the same event, Lee claims dismantling them is the reason he's running, lays out how and why he'll do it – and articulates even broader ambitions.

In one partially truncated clip, Lee apparently suggests raising the retirement age to 75. Then, he says, “Eventually we phase it out. Anyway, that's sort of the plan: We start with the entitlement system, we systematically start dismantling every other piece; but we start with those programs that are most expensive.”

And Lee explicitly says there should be no federal entitlements whatsoever. “The federal government shouldn’t be in the entitlement business,” he says in one video.

When one person at the event – just two years after the mortgage crisis – asserts that “Home ownership isn’t for everybody,” Lee responds, “Yeah, you’re exactly right.”

In another video, Lee argues for rolling government assistance back to the state it was in before the Great Depression. “Going all the way back to the New Deal era – to some extent even before then – but at least going back to the 1930s, we've had men and women in Congress who have basically assumed, with a lot of assistance from the Supreme Court of the United States, assumed that if they can dream it they can do it, and if there's a problem they can fix it, and if there's a leak in the boat they can plug it. And they don't worry about what's in [the Constitution].”

Lee also makes his case for raising taxes on the poor so that everyone has to pay something, regardless of how little money they have.

“Our current tax system is bad,” Lee argues, “because of the fact that we've got almost 50% of the population that pays nothing; 43.5%, I think is the number.” Instead, he says, “If we all have to pay taxes, every single one of us will have an incentive to make sure that our tax dollars are well spent.”

Taxing the poor is another idea that has been floated this year, by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who chairs the GOP’s Senate campaign committee. Sen. Min. Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) apparently realized just how much voters oppose raising taxes on the poor and quickly denied that the GOP plans to do it.

In one video, Lee does favor cutting some taxes – for the rich -- by reducing what the government does for others. “One thing I would like to do is undertake categorical across-the-board percentage cuts in every area of government to the extent necessary to enable us to slash capital gains rates to no more than ten percent," he says.

Lee’s opposition to entitlements goes beyond his constitutional claims. He says entitlements make it hard to force people to work. And that, he says, entices workers to come to the U.S. illegally.

“You can’t effectively address the immigration problem without thoroughly addressing the problem of entitlements generally,” Lee explains. In addition to Lee’s blanket opposition to all federal entitlements, he suggests that unemployment insurance specifically is causing illegal immigration, by freeing Americans to have fun:

“We’ve given U.S. citizens an option: You can either go to work … or you can choose not to work and many of you will be entitled to social welfare benefits. And, let’s face it, for most of us, most of the time, it’s a lot more fun not to work than to work, so if we give people that option, they’re not going to work.”

Despite multiple studies showing that government health benefits extended American lifespans, Lee calls lack of care due to lack of money “a fiction invented by the far left.”

He says, “When I talk to my liberal friends, they’ll bring up the healthcare debate and they'll say ‘Mike, what will people do if we don't have socialized medicine? What will people do if we phase out Medicare and Medicaid?’ as I believe we should.”

Lee’s answer is that, “The market and the charitable sources that are fostered by a free-market system will always provide. People will not go without care.”

Twelve years before the right-wing Supreme Court this year overturned Roe v. Wade, Lee in one video attacks _Roe_’s bedrock, the Griswold v. Connecticut ruling which said that the Constitution affords a right to privacy that precludes states from banning contraception. Lee called the Griswold ruling “twisted reasoning.”

Lee seemed aware in 2010 of the political perils raised by some of his extreme positions, especially regarding Social Security. But he said getting rid of Social Security was the entire point of running for office.

“It has been utterly taboo to even mention the term ‘Social Security’ in the same sentence with ‘reform,’ ‘reduction,’ ‘phase-out,’ ‘elimination,’ ‘privatization’” he said. “It's been taboo. People won't do it.”

At the time, however, Lee had no problem breaking that taboo. He said, “I'm here right now to tell you one thing that you probably haven't ever heard from a politician: It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it. People who advise me politically always tell me that's dangerous, and I tell them, in that case it's not worth my running; that's why I'm doing this, to get rid of that. Medicare and Medicaid are of the same sort and need to be pulled up.”

Jonathan Larsen is TYT’s managing editor. You can find him on Twitter @JTLarsen. ven