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Owens, Doheny spar in debate

— “If the Affordable Care Act is replaced, any new legislation must address these issues,” Owens said.

The candidates also sparred on Social Security reform.

Owens said he didn’t agree with Doheny’s intent to make Social Security solvent by raising the full eligibility age from 66 to 67, or eliminating benefits to the wealthy, or shifting Social Security payments into private retirement investment accounts.

“Attempts to privatize Social Security are very concerning,” Owens said. “Social Security is the floor upon which many of our citizens live, and it cannot be tampered with.”

Owens added that for a high percentage of elderly in our region, Social Security provides their main source of income.

“I want to make sure any changes are focused on the needs of the people,” he said.

Doheny responded that without major reform, Social Security would be insolvent in 22 to 25 years.

“We can’t put our heads in the sand and pretend that the problems will go away,” he said, citing that age and earnings eligibility rules would have to change to protect the system.

Green Party candidate Donald Hassig of Colton, NY also participated in the debate. He said he supported a raise in Social Security benefits to a floor of $1,500 per month, advocated government-supported free health care and free education for all. He also said he opposed corporate farming, stronger environmental protection.

Hassig also urged withdrawal from the World Trade organization, an action he said would create 30 million new jobs for Americans, reducing unemployment to zero percent.

He also said he supported taxing wall street transactions, particularly in credit swaps and derivatives. as well as reducing military spending — measures he said would pay for his initiatives.

“Love the earth, change everything,” Hassig said.

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