Lance Talks Social Security, Oil Drilling
Rep. Leonard Lance speaks at the Bridgewater Senior Center.
With questions mostly focusing on Medicare and social security, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) spoke before members of the Bridgewater Senior Center Tuesday.
Lance spoke about specific constituent concerns, including Medicare, social security and veteran health care, answering questions and focusing on the issues that he said he believes matter most to seniors citizens in the area.
"Most important in Washington is the state of the American economy, which is not as strong as any of us would like," he said. "And unemployment is over 9 percent in New Jersey."
But, Lance said, he understands those issues that are of particular importance to senior citizens themselves.
"My father died at the age of 99, and he was fully possessed of his faculties, but frail when he died," he said. "He led a long life. And my mother died when my twin brother and I were 12."
"I believe I know the challenges you face," he added.
Lance said his continued goals are to preserve and bolster social security and Medicare, and make sure it continues for future generations. He said he wants to ensure that as many doctors as possible in the state can see Medicare patients.
"We must value all you have done in our community," he said. "We rely on your expertise and wisdom."
One member of the center asked if anything will be taken away from social security, and if there is any information about the new rates in the coming two years.
Lance said nothing will be taken away from social security, and additional increases are unknown at this point.
"There was a modest increase this year after none before," he said. "Whether there are additional increases depends on the rate of inflation. From the 1970s, there were automatic increases based on the consumer price index."
"Neither I nor, I think, the other members of Congress would vote to do away with automatic increase," he added.
And as for Medicare, Lance said, the biggest question is how to preserve it for future generations. So, he said, there may have to be additional considerations for the age of retirement.
"In my own view, for people in their 20s, we will have to raise the Medicare age," he said. "Now it's 65, and [we might have to] raise the retirement age."
"The life expectancy is greater than when social security was enacted in 1935," he added. "It is not unreasonable to raise the retirement age to 68 or 69."
Dottie Turse, a member of the senior center, also questioned Lance's feelings on Obamacare, and his decision to vote against it before supporting a different resolution that would keep it going. She said she is confused over where his support lies.
Lance said his decision had to do with keeping the government running.
"I was part of a majority of Republicans to vote on a resolution to prevent the government from shutting down," he said.
Lance said he wanted to ensure that no federal agencies would be halted by having the government shut down, including the military.
"The continuing resolution made sure the military would be paid on time," he said. "I didn't want to vote where the military would not be paid on time."
Questions also veered onto the topic of drilling, as one resident questioned Lance's vote against drilling on the east coast, despite his statements that he does support drilling.
"We voted we should not be drilling off the New Jersey coast," he said. "But I am in favor of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico."
Turse said she believes drilling in Alaska is necessary, and she would like to see Lance maintain the conservative views he professes.
"If you are a conservative, we will hold your feet to the fire," she said. "We want you to vote conservative because that's why we put you in office."
"We need drilling in Alaska, we bought it for the purpose of drilling," she added.
Lance said he has voted in support of permitting drilling in Alaska, so long as it is done responsibly.
A final question centered on the rights of same-sex couples, particularly with regard to immigration laws and the concerns over allowing them to have the same rights as married couples.
"My views are that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman," Lance said to applause from the audience. "But I believe partners should be able to have full rights, hospital visits and make healthcare decisions."
"There should be parallel rights," he added.