Social Security takes center stage in 8th Congressional Dist. race

Candidates crying foul over others' claims
Posted at 5:51 PM, Oct 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-03 00:25:11-04

In Northeast Wisconsin, the future of social security is turning into a hot topic in the race to replace outgoing Republican Congressman Reid Ribble.

Whether either candidate saw it coming, social security and what to do about it has taken center stage in the 8th Congressional District, where more than 150,000 people rely on it.
Outagamie County Executive, and Democratic Congressional candidate, Tom Nelson, says making social security stronger has always been his goal.
Currently, the Social Security Board of Trustees says, by 2035, taxes won't cover the program's cost, and there aren't enough young workers paying into it. 
"My position on social security has been very clear and very consistent," says Nelson. "I am for strengthening social security for this generation and for future generations. That's the direction we have to go."
Nelson says it's a promise he made to his grandfather in the nursing home.
"Next to family, social security is all that he had," says Nelson, "and, I know that my grandfather was not the only one."
Meanwhile, the Republican candidate agrees with the significance of the program "because people, like my grandma, depend on it," says Mike Gallagher. "My great uncle depend[s] on it. If we do nothing, their benefits are going to be cut by 20% in less than 20 years." 
The Marine veteran and businessman calls it the most important promise made to seniors.
"And it's not just people that are currently on it. It's my generation, it's our generation," says Gallagher, "and, if we continue down the current course, it's not going to be there." 
But Nelson is critical of what he says are Gallagher's real intentions.
"He want's to reduce social security benefits to the poverty line," says Nelson, adding that he's taking the comments from his opponent's mouth. "He wants to go in the wrong direction, that would weaken social security, and change it as we now know it." 
But Gallagher denies the claim, saying his goal is to bring experts to the table.
"I'm just trying to have a conversation. We just had a roundtable two weeks ago," says Gallagher. "Reid Ribble has announced a plan, [and] I'm sitting down with him this week hopefully to discuss it."
Both candidates say privatizing social security is not an option.