The three candidates for the 9th District congressional seat stood serenely behind gray podiums at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Oct. 18. Each would be asked direct questions by the coach of the IU debate team and would be expected to give clear answers.
Among the questions, asked by moderator Brian DeLong, was one concerning the candidates’ plans for Social Security.
Following the lowest economic point in American history since the Great Depression, some Americans no longer believe that early retirement is an option for them, and if Social Security is privatized, their financial situation post-retirement may become unstable without the help of government aid.
A July Gallup poll showed six in 10 Americans do not believe they will receive social security benefits when they retire, the highest number Gallup reported since they started asking the question in 1989.
Social Security does not only pay retirees, however. It also sustains disability insurance and unemployment benefits.
By 2015, the cost of Social Security is expected to exceed money collected from taxes.
This is because the baby boomer generation is aging, there is a low birth rate in the U.S. and longevity is increasing, according to an article by Michael Kinsley, a political journalist.
Legislators have had to respond to this possibility, and it has sparked heated debate.
Former President George W. Bush proposed partially privatizing Social Security.
This would force retirees to attain some benefits from government funds and some from their own private funds.
Baron Hill, the incumbent for Indiana’s 9th District, strongly opposes this plan.
“We simply cannot risk losing funds for Social Security that have to be there for Indiana seniors,” Hill said.
At the press conference after the 9th District congressional debate last week, Republican candidate Todd Young said he does not support the privatization solution either.
Hill does not believe Young will stand against privatization, however.
“Unfortunately, my Republican opponent refuses to sign a pledge to protect Social Security from privatization and recently threw the pledge on the ground,” Hill said.
Libertarian candidate Greg Knott said better means of funding Social Security must be found. He said the other candidates, while promising to support it, have yet to produce concrete methods to do so.
“Medicare is the more immediate problem,” Knott said. “But both programs will become insolvent if a more sustainable funding source is not found.”
Todd Young was unavailable to comment on his solution to sustaining Social Security.
Knott has proposed a consumption tax rather than income tax for funding. He said this will be more likely to yield the needed funds.
Hill agreed that there must be a steadier source of income for Social Security.
“One possible fix is ensuring that millionaires pay Social Security tax at the same rate as the middle class instead of the reduced rate they currently pay,” Hill said.
All of the candidates said they have plans to work with Congress.
“I look forward to reviewing the report of the president’s debt commission next month for potential fixes to Social Security,” Hill said.