IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The race for Idaho's 2nd Congressional seat is a hotly-contested one. You've seen and heard the political ads, but do you really know the candidates that well?
Bryan Smith is challenging incumbent Mike Simpson in the Republican primary, May 20. Democrat Richard Stallings will wait to see which one he will face in the general election this fall. Eyewitness News anchor, Todd Kunz, interviewed all three. To begin, he asked them about entitlement programs.
"When Social Security first started, there were 17 workers for every retiree and the average lifespan was 64 years old. Today, the average lifespan is like 78 years old and there are two and a half workers for every retiree. The numbers just don't pencil out anymore. So we've got to reform them (entitlement programs) for future generations. Now, whether we do that through partial privatization or other ideas of how to address the entitlement programs that we have, Congress has got to take that on, but it's a big part of getting our budget into balance," said Republican incumbent, Mike Simpson.
"And I believe firmly that we need to keep our commitments to people who are on Social Security, but at the same time, we also know that the Social Security System is heading toward insolvency. And one of the main reasons for that is that the federal government was supposed to have 2.7 trillion dollars in the Social Security account. It is not there anymore. They have taken it out for the everyday operations of the federal government. And so what we know is the federal government has not been trustworthy with people's money, and although we need to keep our commitments to our seniors, we also need to look at a system that allows individuals to have ownership of their own Social Security account money. I trust Idahoans and the people of the United States much more with their own money and to manage their own money, rather than a federal government that has already proven that it will mismanage money that it has," said Republican challenger, Bryan Smith.
"Social Security is in pretty good shape. That's fairly sound. With a couple of tweaks, you could make Social Security solvent for another generation, another 100 years. I mean it wouldn't take much. By removing the cap on what you tax would be one way to do that and you would have plenty of revenue and you would take care of future needs. Medicare is a little tougher. We are going to have to figure out how to get more money into the program and one of the things that is helping right now is the Affordable Care Act and that has been fairly helpful in reducing spending on healthcare, but we're still going to find some additional resources. I think there is some ways you can do that. I think, as a senior who is now getting Medicare, we don't pay an awfully lot for it and I think for a lot of seniors they could," said Democratic challenger, Richard Stallings.