Video above shows a portion of the July 2, 2014 U.S. Senate candidate forum held at Sangha Hall in Hilo, Hawaii. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa is challenging incumbent Senator Brian Schatz for the position.

Video by Tim Bryan, Forum Moderated by Sherry Bracken

HILO, Hawaii – The topic of social security came up early during the U.S. Senate Forum in Hilo, when Senator Brian Schatz pointed towards his advocacy of the Social Security Enhancement Act. The senator explained:

Brian Schatz

This is the most successful, anti-poverty program in American history. It takes care all of our families. This program actually works. Poverty has gone down in America since social security was established. And so what we ought to do is think about enhancing the program.

And all we have to do is: for the first $114,000 of your earnings you’re taxed for social security purposes. You make anything beyond that, you don’t have to pay social security tax on that. If we simply lift the cap on taxable earnings for social security purposes, we can generate enough money to extend the solvency of the program to almost the year 2050 and increase social security benefits by $65 to $70 dollars per person per month.

This is something that makes absolute sense. It’s totally fair from a tax perspective and we’ll take care of our friends and neighbors who rely on this program.”Sen. Brian Schatz – July 2, 2014

Moderator Sherry Bracken then asked Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to talk about her record in regards to social security:

Colleen Hanabusa

I have been a strong advocate of Social Security when I first got elected. I signed on to a letter to say to the president – who wanted to put chain CPI, which is a way up indexing the cost of living – that it should not be considered and it was the president who actually put it on the table.

There’s never been – in my mind – any threat to social security in recent times, and no one has said that they are going to vote against Social Security or have social security be cut, and that’s something that I have pledged continually. I also believe that it is necessary for seniors to understand that when we talk about raising the cap, I agree with that as well. Or eliminating it, I agree with that. I don’t know of any democrat who doesn’t agree with that principal. The question though is whether you raise that cap to secure social security for to the year 2075, which is what are trustees are mandated to do.”Rep. Colleen Hanabusa – July 2, 2014

Bracken then turned to Schatz, noting that he seemed to imply that there are those who do not support social security. For his answer, Schatz referred to a February 5, 2013 letter from the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, which urged Congress to oppose HR 444 which would have cut benefits to both Social Security and Medicare and raised the retirement age.

Brian Schatz

Unfortunately, Colleen, you voted for this amendment. I know you have your explanation for it, but the fact is this was a bad vote and I think people in Hawaii deserve an explanation beyond ‘that’s not what I meant to do’.”Sen. Brian Schatz – July 2, 2014

Colleen Hanabusa

You know what happens with bills on the floor; is that it evolves along the way. Things get changed, things get taken out and it wasn’t the bill that Brian depicts.

And let me also say this. In the year 2012, the same organization that Brian speaks to is the same organization that also endorsed me, and gave me a contribution. Because our record was very clear on issues like Social Security. So I think that it is unfair and really uncalled for to be able to take an issue which I feel is out there to scare our kupunas, when our kupuna know that social security is something that is dear to every democrat’s heart. And we will all fight for social security.”Rep. Colleen Hanabusa – July 2, 2014

Brian Schatz

I’ll just point out that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare endorsed you, Colleen, in a 2012. You took this vote to undermine social security in 2013. In 2014 they endorsed me, and they endorsed me because of your vote on this issue and because my leadership on the Social Security Enhancement Act.”Sen. Brian Schatz – July 2, 2014

Special Section - Senate

SPECIAL VIDEO SECTION: Schatz vs. Hanabusa (July 2, 2014)

1. Introduction
2. Social Security
3. Economy
4. Kona Airport Customs
5. Fish & Wildlife Designations
6. Lending Restrictions
7. Native Hawaiian Education
8. Jones Act
9. Healthcare and Medicare
10. Pohakuloa Training Area, Saddle Road
11. Hawaii’s High Energy Rates
12. GMO
13. Closing

The event was sponsored by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii, Hawaii Island REALTORS®, Hawaii Island Contractors’ Association, Kanoelehua Industrial Area Association and the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce. It was open to the community free of charge.