5:07 pm Jun. 14, 2012
The three main Democratic candidates for an open congressional seat in Queens are arguing about how to fund Social Security in a way that ensures 100 percent of current benefits for seniors and future retirees over the long term.
The argument turns in part on a difference over whether making about $110,000 a year makes you a "high-income earner" or a member of the "middle class."
The emphasis in the quotes below is all mine.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who said funding Social Security "requires our immediate attention," is proposing lifting the cap on income that is not taxed for the program. Here's how he described the plan at a press conference earlier this week: "If we simply lift the cap on high-income earners, people making over $110,000 a year, we will ensure the solvency of the Social Security system for the next 75 years."
City Councilwoman Liz Crowley said she opposes lifting that cap. At a recent debate, she said, "There's some thought that we should raise FICA [Federal Income Contribution Act] tax. I don't agree with that. I think many of our community residents who make over $106,000 can't afford, many of them can't afford to pay more taxes. So I don't agree with raising FICA."
Crowley said Social Security can be fully funded if the economy grows and more jobs are created.
Assemblywoman Grace Meng is taking an approach that's between Lancman's and Crowley's. According to a spokesman, Meng supports raising that FICA cap, but is more flexible about when exactly to do it. In a statement released yesterday, she rejected Crowley's approach and questioned the timing of Lancman's:
"Under no circumstances could growth itself solve this problem; that is a fact. On the other hand, it would be imprudent to raise taxes on those earning $110,000 while the economy is weak and possibly slowing. 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."
In a statement today, Meng's spokesman Austin Finan criticized Lancman's plan, saying he wanted to raise taxes on "middle-class families making $110,600."