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No, Jeb Bush didn't just say he'd privatize Social Security

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

The Democratic opposition research group American Bridge videotaped Jeb Bush discussing Social Security during a campaign appearance Tuesday, and is claiming Bush revealed his desire to privatize the program, like his brother tried to.

But Bush didn't say that. While he certainly wants to cut Social Security spending — and, just a few months ago, said the retirement age for it should be raised "in relatively short order" — he didn't mention anything about privatization specifically in American Bridge's video. Here are his full comments:

I appreciate the question because it relates to — not because Social Security is an entitlement, I've learned that from town hall meetings — it's a supplemental retirement system that's not actuarially sound, how about that. And certainly Medicaid and Medicare are entitlements and they're growing at a far faster rate than anything else in government. So it will overwhelm us. The contingent liabilities are clear. We can ignore it as we've done now — my brother tried, got totally wiped out, both Republicans and Democrats wanted nothing to do with it. The next president's going to have to try again.

So Bush says that Social Security isn't actuarially sound, that his brother tried to fix that, and that the next president will have to try again. He did not get further into specifics, and nothing specifically about privatization or private accounts as his preferred way to fix Social Security was mentioned in the video.

Now, if Bush liked the idea of adding private accounts to Social Security, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise. As American Bridge recounts, he certainly did support his brother's plan to do so in 2005. And it would fit with Bush's long record of backing conservative policy ideas.

But as far as backing privatization now, as a campaign issue — that didn't happen here.