Ahead of our recent forum with Republican Congressional candidate Jim Lawrence, we asked you to send in your suggestions for what issues you wanted to hear him discuss.
Lawrence is running in New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Annie Kuster, a Democrat. Kuster is slated to participate in a similar forum on Nov. 2, and you’ll have a chance to send in your questions for her, too.
Here’s what Lawrence had to say on some of the topics you suggested.
On Energy Regulations
One of you asked: “Where do you stand on the federal Clean Power Plan? Specifically, about burning woody biomass for electrical generation like here in New Hampshire?”
Lawrence didn’t directly address whether he supports or opposes the plan, or how he would approach the issue of burning biomass – instead, he spoke broadly about a desire to balance environmental and economic concerns when crafting such regulations.
“We need to look at long-term solutions that not only protect our environment, but also protect our ability to have a strong economy going into the future,” Lawrence said. “So my plan, as I look forward – and this would be the litmus test for any plan like this – I would look to make sure that not only that we’re protecting the environment but we’re not going to be doing something that’s negatively going to impact the ratepayers or negatively impact our ability to provide cheap and reliable energy.”
On Social Security Reform
Another one of you had questions about the long-term outlook on Social Security. At the forum, one audience member asked Lawrence: “Do you support expanding and not cutting Social Security’s modest earned benefits?”
Lawrence said his priority for reforming Social Security would be to “fence off the payroll taxes that we collect to fund Social Security.”
“Right here in our state of New Hampshire we do something similar with the gas tax to make sure reserved for highway fund. This is even worse than that. We’re collecting taxes, we’re taking payroll taxes from people, from Americans, hardworking Americans, for the purpose of funding Social Security. That money should be dedicated to that fund.”
Beyond that, though, Lawrence said, “you need to leave all options on the table.” He said current recipients shouldn’t see any changes to their benefits but future changes – like raising the cap on payroll taxes, raising the age of eligibility or adjusting eligibility requirements otherwise – need to be considered.
“The one thing I can guarantee you is that if we do this now, it’s going to be a lot less painful and a lot easier to accomplish it than if we wait 10 years later when we’re right at the edge of it collapsing,” Lawrence said. “If you wait, it’s going to be more difficult, more painful to get the job done.”
Stay tuned for more of our "Conversations with the Candidates" and more opportunities to participate leading up to the general election.