The gloves have come off among the three leading candidates for the Democratic nomination in the 6th Congressional District.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) held a press conference on Tuesday morning both reiterating his own position on saving Social Security and criticizing those of Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
Crowley and Meng subsequently fired back — broadside.
Lancman said that at current rates the fund will be unable to meet its obligations by 2033. He said eliminating the cap on income that is subject to Social Security taxes — now $110,600 — would make the fund solvent for 75 years.
“People are all contributing to Social Security, but not all are contributing equally,” he said.
Lancman quoted Meng from a debate as saying there was no immediate crisis, and Crowley’s contention that adding jobs in an economic recovery will help make the fund flush.
“We shouldn’t kick the can down the road or bury our heads in the sand,” he said, calling himself “the only candidate in the 6th District race who has offered a real plan” for saving Social Security.
Crowley, in a statement issued by her campaign, defended her growth approach, and slammed Lancman.
“Raising taxes on the middle class and on small businesses is exactly what we don’t need to help Social Security,” Crowley said. “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, in a statement from her campaign, appeared to be taking Crowley to task as well as her fellow Assemblymember.
“We have a serious, structural problem with Social Security,” she said. “Anyone who contends that we can merely grow our way out of the problem either misunderstands it or misrepresents it for political purposes.”
Meng said that “under no circumstances could growth itself solve this problem; that is a fact.”
It also was virtually identical to a point raised by Lancman.
“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 said. “The first step to the solution is to raise the FICA ceiling within the next three years when there is more significant economic improvement, but not now, while the economy is in such a precarious state.”
The three, along with Flushing physician Dr. Robert Mittman and former Green Party candidate Evergreen Chu, are vying for the Democratic nomination in the primary on June 26. Meng has the endorsement of the Queens County Democratic Party leadership.
Much of the new 6th is being carved out of the district served by Congressman Gary Ackerman, who is retiring. Councilman Dan Halloran will be the Republican nominee.