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POLITICS

Democrats hit Allen on Social Security in Senate race

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Politics,Local,Congress,Virginia,Steve Contorno

National Democrats are hammering Republican George Allen over Social Security to undercut his support among seniors in Virginia's hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a new ad knocking Allen for supporting a move to partially privatize Social Security while he was serving in the U.S. Senate between 2001 and 2007.

"If George Allen wants to risk his own money on Wall Street, that's fine. But I don't want him risking mine," says a senior in the ad.

Allen's campaign called the ad "scare tactics" aimed at seniors, the most dependable voters on Election Day. The campaign also noted that while he was governor, Allen helped protect Social Security recipients by eliminating a state tax on their benefits.

In his bid to return to the upper chamber and replace retiring Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., Allen has frequently taken heat from his Democratic opponent, Tim Kaine, also a former governor, for his Senate record.

The two have staked out very different positions on the popular entitlement program and how to ensure it's stability going forward. Allen said the discussion should start with raising the retirement age and implementing means testing to reduce benefits for wealthy individuals, all without affecting current retirees.

But while Kaine has been quick to criticize Allen on Social Security, he doesn't believe it's an immediate issue for the next Congress to address, noting that the program is solvent through 2033. Instead of drastic reforms, Kaine would raise the cap on payroll taxes beyond the current $110,000.

Last week, Kaine visited a Manassas defense contractor with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., when Warner spoke about Social Security as a problem more urgent than Kaine suggests. Warner said people are living longer and there are far fewer workers supporting each senior than when the program started.

"If you're a female today in America and you're 20 and healthy, your life expectancy is 100," Warner told workers. "That's a good thing, but it does mean that some of the underlying premises and promises made, the math just doesn't work."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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