Ohio Republican congressional candidate pushes for Social Security privatization

Plus, Heartland Republicans play major role in undermining access to contraceptives.

Heartland Republicans in the Senate help block ‘Right to Contraception’ bill

On Wednesday, a bill that would have enshrined a federal safeguard for the use of contraceptives as well as “protect a health care provider’s ability to provide contraceptives, contraception, and information related to contraception,” was shut down by GOP senators, including those from key Midwestern states. 

Among that cohort were Iowa senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, Missouri senators Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt, Nebraska senators Pete Ricketts and Deb Fischer and Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall. They represent states where research has demonstrated a detrimental absence of contraceptive access. 

“Local health departments (LHD) in [Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska] are currently ill-equipped to offer comprehensive contraceptive services. Women seeking care at LHDs have limited, if any, contraceptive options,” a study from 2018 found. 

And according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, such circumstances are directly connected with intergenerational poverty, educational attainment, career outcomes and labor force participation. In states like Iowa and Nebraska, exactly a third of women-led households are in poverty. 

Ernst in particular critiqued the bill introduced by Democrats, responding that her bill, the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act, would be more practical. 

“In the face of Democrats’ radical abortion on demand, I am proud to provide women greater access to safe and effective birth control,” Ernst said in a statement. “My bill will increase over-the-counter contraception options while bringing much-needed transparency and accountability to ensure the government uses tax dollars to support families.” 

But Ernest’s bill explicitly prevents public spending from going towards providers that perform abortions. This would have a direct impact on access to contraceptives in her own state. The bill also does not include access to Plan B, which the Democrats’ bill did.

Per KFF, a health policy hub, Iowa (as well as Missouri) operates a “limited-scope of family planning programs that are entirely state-funded because they exclude providers that offer both family planning and abortion services, disqualifying those programs from federal Medicaid payments.”

Ohio Republican congressional candidate pushes for Social Security privatization 

In Ohio's 13th Congressional District, Republican congressional candidate Kevin Coughlin has made several comments on the campaign trail that suggest he believes privatizing or cutting Social Security would be the best path forward for the program. 

Kevin Coughlin — who previously had served in Ohio’s Senate and House of Representatives and is now the GOP nominee in the state’s 13th Congressional District race — said at a meeting with University of Akron College Republicans in late April that Social Security funds would stand to benefit should the government “do some bonds … some mutual funds, some securities, some straight up stocks and securities.”  

"The Democrats will say, well, you want to gamble the future of Social Security. No, it's not gambling, if you know what you're doing. And that's why you diversify, because you're hedging your bets against losses in one part of the portfolio by being safe over here,” Coughlin added. 

Such remarks aren’t isolated. During the Republican primary in early 2024, Coughlin alluded to the need to slash spending on Social Security and Medicaid in the event that either benefit becomes insolvent. 

“Anyone with eyes and an honest heart can understand that when half of your budget is being spent on Medicaid and Social Security and it’s going to go broke very, very quickly, which isn’t going to mean that they’re going to go away, but it’s going to mean that the benefits that people get are going to be cut,” Coughlin said at the Ohio Christian Alliance Candidate Forum in February. 

Additionally, Coughlin has advocated “converting Medicare into a voucher program for anyone under 55” and increasing the “eligibility age to 67.” 

These comments fly in the face of recent Republican strategy. Since taking over the party, former President Donald Trump has avoided directly mentioning austerity measures to federal benefits — understanding the stance as a deeply unpopular political position. 

Indeed, MAGA allies in Congress have been quick to scold more “old school” Republicans for backing such policies.

“I distinctly remember somebody basically ran a presidential campaign on this in 2012: the Paul Ryan budget, the austerity budget,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said in reference to the party’s current attitude towards major welfare programs.  

“I don’t recall that ticket performing very well. I personally don’t care to go back to that.”

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Jamie Larson