Congressional District Candidates Debate

KINGSTON – Candidates for the 19th Congressional District addressed the Ulster County business community Thursday morning to talk about their policies and answer questions posed by local business leaders.

Republican incumbent John Faso (R, NY-19) and Democratic challenger Antonio Delgado went head to head on a number of issues, ranging from fiscal responsibility, economic development, healthcare and climate change, among others.

Among the many issues they were in direct opposition about, most notably were the policy differences between Faso and Delgado regarding the Social Security tax cap.

Faso disagreed with Delgado’s position of removing the cap altogether, if he were elected and said the tax burden created by removing the cap would do more harm than good, especially when it comes to small businesses and the self-employed.

“Right now, they only pay that 6.5 percent employment tax on the first $128,000 of income,” said Faso. “Now, obviously, most small businesses don’t have that many people above that level; but, at the same time, if you’re self-employed and you’re a doctor, or you’re a lawyer and you’re making more than that, he [Delgado] just proposed a massive tax increase on you. That was striking.”

Delgado rebutted this point, proposing that social security is an earned benefit and is not being represented by the disparity in pay in between those in the lower- to middle-class. He said those paying a much smaller percentage of their income into social security should pay much more and it could resolve solvency issues.

“I also note that over the last 40-some-odd year’s wages have remained stagnant, despite the fact that productivity has increased considerably. The top 10 percent, last year, captured more than 75 percent of all the income,” said Delgado. “Now, when the cap was introduced on social security, it captured about 90 percent of all the income, but when you have more and more wealth trapped in the hands of just a few, then that cap does not keep all the income that it can and keep Social Security solvent.”

Also participating in the forum were Independent, actress Diane Neal, and Green Party candidate Steven Greenfield of New Paltz.

In addition to their major party competitors, Neal proposed a required service for young people to help lessen budgetary burdens, while Greenfield focused mainly on a vigorous, clean energy mandate to have all energy be renewable by 2035, along with a push for major deregulation in a number of areas.

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