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New Hampshire House Candidates Clash on Social Security

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The two candidates for a competitive House seat in New Hampshire duked it out over the future of Social Security in an Oct. 28 debate, which was broadcast statewide.

“I will go to bat every single day” for Social Security, said Democratic Rep. Ann Kuster. Branding the system’s financing problems “easy to fix,” she called for raising the Social Security wage base limit from its current level of $117,000.

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Republican challenger Marilinda Garcia voiced greater concern over the program’s long-term financing. “What is frightening right now is ... the Medicare and Social Security trustees said that Social Security will be insolvent in 2033,” she said. For “my generation, it just won’t be there for us.”

Kuster, 58, is a first-term member of the House. She has been a political consultant, attorney and lobbyist in New Hampshire.

Garcia, 31, is a teacher and musician. A conservative activist, she has received nationwide attention as a Latina candidate in a relatively rural district. She has served several years in the state legislature.

Garcia did not commit herself to a specific alternative for Social Security. “There are a lot of proposals on the table,” she said, adding, “We have to have an open mind on all of them” while preserving the program as it is for those 55 and older. She criticized Kuster for having “failed to act” on any proposal.

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Kuster criticized Garcia for having expressed support for the “privatization” of Social Security. “Imagine if we had done that in 2008,” when the stock market had a big drop, she said. “People all across the state would have lost everything they needed for their future.”

The state’s politics have been unusually competitive, with close contests this year for governor, senator and the two House seats.

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