The dignity of a promise: Maryland seniors and families deserve Chris Van Hollen in their corner

I've been proud to call Maryland my home for more than ​30 ​years. We have a great history of political engagement, with strong leaders laying out the issues for the voters and allowing them to make the best choice. Unfortunately, Congresswoman Donna Edwards has refused to run that kind of campaign in this year's U.S. Senate race. At every turn, she has attacked Chris Van Hollen -- misleading voters with no concern for the facts.

The most egregious example of this has been on Social Security. As someone who has dedicated her life to advocating for a secure retirement for America's seniors, I find this kind of misinformation to be deeply troubling.

Here are the facts.

Chris believes deeply in the promise we make to those who have earned the dignity of a secure retirement. He has a 100 percent lifetime rating from the Alliance for Retired Americans, and the President and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare has singled out Chris' leadership, calling him "the savior for us for years now."

The praise is well earned. As top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, he has been unanimously elected by his colleagues -- including Congresswoman Edwards -- to lead the fight against Republican efforts to end the Medicare Guarantee and cut Social Security. Under Chris's leadership, retirement security has been preserved, despite the best efforts of the Tea Party.

But Chris hasn't been content to protect Social Security. He's looking to expand it, supporting legislation that would increase retirement benefits and ensure long-term, sustainable solvency for the program. Chris also supports the Social Security Caregivers Credit Act which would improve benefits for millions of Americans.

If we're being honest, the biggest risk to Social Security in recent history has been the vote to default on the full faith and credit of the United States. If we had actually done so, it would have wreaked havoc on the economy and put Social Security benefits in real jeopardy -- something Congresswoman Edwards herself has acknowledged. Barbara Mikulski didn't vote to do that. Neither did Ben Cardin. But Donna Edwards voted with the Tea Party Republicans to default on our debt and endanger our retirement security.

I founded the Center for Retirement Initiatives at Georgetown University, and, as Maryland's former Lieutenant Governor, I've focused on seniors' issues for my entire career. And I know Congresswoman Edwards isn't being straightforward about the choice facing Maryland Democrats in this election.

Voters need to know the truth when they cast their ballots in April. Chris is a well-respected leader who has spent his career fighting for working families and seniors, and he will take that fight to the U.S. Senate.