Democratic congressional candidate Carolyn Long Thursday supported increased taxes on higher income workers to help shore up the Social Security system.
In a Longview campaign appearance, the Vancouver Democrat also said the public option — a Medicare-like health insurance policy citizens would buy from the government — should be among alternatives considered as a way to make medical care more affordable and accessible.
Long spoke to about 50 active and retired pulp and paper workers at the AWPPW union hall on 15th Avenue. Audience members said they’re worried that Social Security is not enough to live on and that benefits will be cut in the future.
The government is estimating that Social Security’s reserves will run out by 2034.
Long said despite the Trump administration’s rosy view of the economy, wage stagnation and rising cost of living are problems, especially for people on a fixed incomes
“It’s not just about making sure there aren’t cuts. It’s about making sure we protect what we have now.”
To shore up the Social Security trust fund, she advocated increasing the cap on wages subject to Social Security tax. The tax does not apply to income exceeding $128,400. Raising the cap only would directly affect high-wage workers.
Changes to the tax cap could close roughly a quarter to nearly nine-tenths of Social Security’s solvency gap, depending on how they were structured, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Long did not specify where she would set the new cap.
Long bashed last year’s GOP tax cut, saying it will further bloat the deficit and makes it tempting to further draw off social security reserves.
Long also knocked the White House and the Republican Party for undermining the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act by eliminating the individual mandate.
Long said she supports adjustments to the ACA. Adding a public option would allow individuals and organizations to purchase insurance from the government and would drive cost for private insurance down. She also said she supports increasing insurance subsidies and stabilizing the market.
In response to an audience member who worried that these moves would drive up costs to taxpayers, Long said the alternative is more expensive.
“What costs more money is people who are radically uninsured or under-insured, because we all end up paying for it anyway if they don’t have access of care,” she said.
Long, a professor at Washington State University Vancouver, is challenging four-term 3rd District Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to represent Southwest Washington.
She’s battling history. Since 1947, only once has an incumbent 3rd District representative lost a re-election bid. That was in 1994, when Democrat Jolene Unsoeld lost to Republican Linda Smith.
Democrats have targeted Herrera Beutler as part of their attempt to win control of the House. They were buoyed by the August primary results, in which the Democratic and Republican vote was even in the 3rd District.
Long acknowledged, though, that it will be a difficult race. She said Cowlitz County could be a difference maker, despite the fact that Clark County is by far the largest county in the district.
“It’s going to be tough. This is a district that has hired our incumbent by 20 to 22 (percentage) points in the last several cycles,” Long said. “This race is going to be won in Cowlitz County .… In terms of where the untapped votes are for Carolyn Long and other Democrats, it is Cowlitz County.”