State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) went on the offensive Tuesday, saying he is the only candidate in the race for the newly created congressional seat centered around Flushing who has a plan to fix Social Security.
“Our seniors, and those who will soon become seniors, deserve more than a head-in-the-sand approach to Social Security from their member of Congress,” Lancman said. “And so far I’m the only candidate in this race that has offered a real plan to save Social Security without reducing benefits, raising the retirement age or privatizing Social Security altogether.”
Lancman favors eliminating an exemption on Social Security taxes paid on an individual’s income over $110,600. If the exemption is eliminated, he said, the program would remain solvent for another 75 years. It is widely predicted that by 2033 the program will be unable to provide 100 percent coverage to seniors if no legislative action is taken.
Lancman blasted his opponents, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), for what he called their idea that job growth alone will allow more people to pay into the system.
But the two candidates countered that the increase in Social Security payments would essentially be a tax.
“Raising taxes on the middle class and on small businesses is exactly what we don’t need to help Social Security,” Crowley said in a statement. “I’m sorry that Mr. Lancman thinks that it is a good idea. My plan is to put people back to work and keep Republicans from cutting Social Security.”
Meng also released a statement in response to the allegations.
She said that raising the exemption ceiling might be a good idea in the future, but not in the current economy.
“Under no circumstances could growth itself solve this problem. That is a fact,” Meng said in a statement. “On the other hand, it would be imprudent to raise taxes on those earning $110,000 while the economy is weak and possibly slowing.”
Meng has said on several occasions that reforming Social Security is a complicated issue, but that job growth could help and that there is no need to panic.
In an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers this spring, she said “we have enough funds in there until 2033 …. It is not something that is disappearing next year.”
Crowley has stuck to the position that job growth will help keep the program afloat.
“When you have more people working, you’ll naturally have more money going into Social Security,” Crowley said in a separate interview with TimesLedger.
The cost of the entitlement program, along with Medicare and Medicaid, has ballooned to 36 percent of the federal budget, a growth that is unsustainable, according to a government report. That report, issued by the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare, predicted dire consequences as the large baby boomer generation enters retirement and stipulated that legislative intervention is required to keep entitlements afloat.