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Townsend calls Barney's Social Security plan an election year ploy

Two candidates seeking Delaware’s lone congressional seat are butting heads over their plans to bolster Social Security less than a month before the primary.

In a town hall event at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover Wednesday, state Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-Newark) criticized Sean Barney’s plan to boost guaranteed payouts for Social Security recipients as unrealistic.

“It’s actually [a] very, very dramatic, sort of almost sensationalized idea that no other serious group is talking about," said Townsend.

"You haven’t heard about it in a bunch of years because no one thinks that’s actually the way we should go and I think seniors that the basis of that plan is a dramatic change in Social Security itself.”

Anyone getting a Social Security check would get about an extra $12,000 a year in addition to his or her normal check under Barney's plan.

In a statement, Barney called Townsend’s critique “sad” and quoted President Obama, saying “It's time we finally made Social Security more generous…”

But Townsend says legislative efforts shouldn't focus on “sensationalized” proposals, likening the idea to "...throwing pasta at the wall to see what sticks in a campaign."

“Digging in on the fundamental premise of Social Security is what we’ve heard seniors want. It’s what we’ve heard a lot of experts talk about, including those who join me in really wanting to protect Social Security and strengthen Social Security,” Townsend said.

But both men and their other main opponent, Lisa Blunt Rochester, mostly agree on how to shore up Social Security into the future.

All three want to eliminate or raise a cap for wealthy workers paying into the program, make cost-of-living adjustments more realistic to seniors’ needs, as well as vowing to reject any measure to privatize Social Security.

Barring any changes, Social Security would no longer be able to pay full benefits to retirees after 2035. Projected payroll taxes would only cover 77 percent of those benefits should the trust fund dry up.

All three also want to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.

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