Jay Chen, a congressional candidate for the newly formed 39th District is blasting a mailer opponent U.S. Rep. Ed Royce sent out that claims that the challenger wants a government takeover of 401(k)s.
The newest mailer comes after another recent campaign piece that contended that Chen, a Democrat, wanted to tax wheelchairs. Chen said in a statement that neither he nor his campaign has mentioned 401(k)s or wheelchairs and that none of the articles his Republican opponent cites in the mailers mention him.
"It is telling that after 20 years in office, Royce is unable to talk about any achievements to justify his re-election. Instead, he needs to fabricate things about me,” Chen said. "Instead of sending misleading mail, Royce should finally accept my invitation to have an open and public debate where we can truthfully discuss the issues that matter to voters."
Dave Gilliard, a spokesman for the Royce campaign, pointed to a blog posted Aug. 27 on a website called downwithtyranny.com in which Chen spoke in support of a plan called “Prosperity Economics.”
That plan calls for replacing “401(k)s with a simple, universal mandatory public-private plan,” according to an excerpt. “This new approach would restore the best elements of defined-benefit pensions on a new, sustainable foundation of shared responsibility (rather than having employers bear key retirement risks alone). Employers and workers would be required to put aside a share of pay in earmarked accounts that are distinct from Social Security.”
Gilliard said that Chen wrote in the blog that the plan “aligned with core beliefs for getting our country and economy back on track.”
“These government managed 401ks have been part of the liberal agenda for some time,” Gilliard said. “The bottom line is that Chen, when he thinks nobody is paying attention, takes far left positions. He does not like it when his true positions are exposed.”
Chen said that Royce’s campaign left out the full statement from the blog about his core beliefs being getting the country and economy back on track by investing in infrastructure, education, and social safety nets, as well as limiting corporate influence.
“Basically it is a repudiation of the trickle-down theory Royce has been promoting for 20 years,” Chen said. “And it does not mention 401(k)s. Royce conveniently left out what my stated core beliefs were, and filled in the blank with a twisted and deceitful reference to 401(k)s that is also a complete distortion of what Lowentheil and Hacker actually wrote.”
Professor Jacob Hacker, one of the author’s of the plan, said in a statement that Royce is misrepresenting what he wrote about 401(k)s.
"Congressman Royce is criticizing a made-up proposal that bears no resemblance to the framework for retirement security that we outline in 'Prosperity Economics," he said. "We do not say tax breaks for 401ks should be ended, and we certainly do not argue that workers and employers should be asked to contribute to “government-run 401ks.”
In a separate incident, Chen’s campaign also condemned a sign that was hung at the intersection of Euclid and Valencia in Fullerton this week. The sign read “Is Jay Chen a Closet Commie?” The Chen campaign issued a statement contending that the appearance of the poster coincided with the disappearance of some of his yard signs throughout the district.
"It is a clear sign of desperation when the opposition resorts to this level of smearing" said campaign manager Sam Liu. "We are disappointed, but not shocked, given the anti-immigrant message that Ed Royce has long promoted in this area."
The Royce campaign has said that claims that the congressman is anti-immigrant are false.
"The fact that the most respected Chinese-American elected officials on the 39th district have endorsed Ed Royce and not Jay Chen says a lot," Gilliard said last month. "Ed Royce has worked hard to expand educational opportunities for legal immigrants and to increase opportunities for skilled workers to come to the United States."