Congressional candidates debate social security, gay marriage

By Michael Macagnone

The three congressional candidates aiming to represent Pittsburgh debated — and often… The three congressional candidates aiming to represent Pittsburgh debated — and often disagreed — yesterday afternoon.

The debate, held at Brashear High School in Beechview, featured Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle, Republican candidate Melissa Haluszczak and Green Party candidate Ed Bortz in an hour-long event hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh. Jon Delano, anchor at KDKA, moderated the debate.

Questions — supplied by high school students — varied from Social Security and taxes to the drinking age.

The candidates occasionally edged over the lines of the debate’s rules when discussing some of the more contentious issues. Bortz and Doyle disagreed with Haluszczak on Social Security, gay marriage and tax reform.

The candidates started to trade barbs over Social Security and used up their rebuttals.

Doyle said that Haluszczak, like other Republicans, intends to put the Social Security fund in the stock market.

“The Republicans have some ideas for Social Security, they’re just all bad ideas,” he said. “This party wants to privatize the system, they want to invest Social Security funds in the stock market.”

Haluszczak proposed cutting off Social Security benefits for the independently wealthy. She said that Democrats don’t try to solve the problems in Social Security.

“The party politicizes this issue to scare senior citizens every two years,” she said. “Anyone who offers a solution is demonized and made to look very bad.”

Doyle proposed that the government should lift the cap on the Social Security tax and further alter the fund as needed.

Bortz proposed an alternative solution — lift the cap on social security taxes and pump more money into the program from other portions of the budget.

“I think it does need to be put in a lock box, and contributed to with other funds from other departments when there’s excess, like the Pentagon,” he said.

The debate closed with applause — and a few boos — from the student audience.