Candidates for the First Congressional District faced off Tuesday in an online debate on issues of interest to senior citizens.
The debate, hosted by the media company City & State and sponsored by the AARP, covered Social Security, taxes, Medicare, home healthcare and other topics.
Both Democrat Bridget Fleming and- Republican Nick LaLota said they would protect Social Security, which the Social Security Board of Trustees said earlier this year would run out of money in 2034 if changes weren’t made.
Fleming said, “We must protect Social Security and Medicare for people who have paid into it all their lives. Social Security does face a real but manageable shortfall. We need to be very clear with a commitment to support the program.”
She noted that Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida had proposed that all federal legislation “sunset” after five years, meaning that would it have to be reapproved to continue. Democrats and even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately attacked the idea, with McConnell saying, ““We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half of the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years,” according to the Washington Post.
Fleming said that Social Security needed to be supported not only for seniors but as part of a broader economic need.
Social Security is “absolutely sacred,” LaLota said. “Congress needs to find solutions” to cut costs. “I make that promise–I won’t cut Social Security. For many seniors, it is their only source of income.”
He said government should work on polices to decrease seniors’ costs and that he would will promote what he called pro-American energy policies that would help decrease costs of heating homes and fueling vehicles, which he said would make seniors’ lives more affordable. That includes allowing fracking in areas, such as upstate New York, where the process would be feasible.
For more details on the debate, see below.