Candidates for an area congressional seat are slugging it out again - this time over Social Security.
Democratic incumbent Chris Carney claims his opponent wants to take away retirement benefits for the hard-working people of the district.
Republican Thomas A. Marino says that's not the case and that he wants to see Social Security for future generations.
The flap was ignited by comments Marino made during a radio interview on WKOK Radio Monday, when he was asked to specify what spending should be cut.
According to a transcript from the program provided by the Carney campaign, Marino answered: "Let me address Social Security. You have paid into it. And my generation before you - we are paying for your Social Security. You paid for the generation's before your Social Security. My generation and probably the generation that follows me, we are going to have to step up to the plate and say, 'We are not going to get Social Security ...' "
Carney said such statements reflect that Marino is "hell-bent" on getting rid of Social Security.
Marino offered the following rebuttal Tuesday: "Yet again, Chris Carney has decided to resort to personal attacks and innuendo rather than talking straight about the issues that are important to the people of the 10th Congressional District. During a recent radio interview, I was commenting on what may happen to Social Security if nothing is done to fix it. I made it very clear that I will never support any reduction in benefits for people currently on Social Security and am fully committed to making Social Security solvent for future generations."
"He may deny (eliminating Social Security) in his rebuttal but that is exactly what he said," Carney said. "His reflex when he was asked what he would cut, his reflex answer was Social Security."
According to the transcript, Marino also said that people don't realize that Social Security was designed as a supplement for retirement, pension and savings. He noted that his own generation is probably going to have to work longer and any Social Security benefits will be less.
"But I will certainly protect with every fiber in my body what the seniors are on now and my generation is going to take the hit," he said.
Carney said if he were someone nearing retirement age he would be scared to death of Marino.
"The majority of people in the 10th District are depending on it (Social Security),'" he said. "It's unconscionable. These are hard-working people."
He noted that Marino, 58, a former Lycoming County district attorney and federal prosecutor, is likely not concerned about his retirement given his $281,000 in earnings in 2009 and the two Florida vacation homes he owns.
Carney, 51, who earns $174,000 as a Congressman, noted that Marino's "possessions far exceed those of the average person in the 10th District."
Most people, he added, plan to have their Social Security benefits when they retire.
Marino claimed Carney, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "and their cronies" have drained the Social Security Trust Fund to help pay for their big government agenda.
He called on Carney to discuss issues important to seniors and accused him of joining Obama and Pelosi in supporting a $500 billion cut in Medicare.
He said he plans on soon introducing a plan for making Social Security "solvent," involving use of its funds for other budget items.
Carney said he has his own plan, requiring higher income earners to pay their fair share.
At present, every worker in America pays the same percentage of income into the Social Security Trust Fund - 6.2 percent of the first $106,800 of wages. But a person pays no additional tax on higher earnings.