Published on October 10, 2022 in RINewsToday
With just 28 days before the mid-term elections, Seth Magaziner, the Democratic candidate for the 2nd Congressional District seat struggles to keep Democratic and Independent voters from voting Republican Alan Fung into office, who express frustration with high gas prices, rising inflation and a slow economy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Rhode Island Democratic Party, knowing that the last Republican to hold this seat was former Congresswoman Claudine Schneider in 1991, understand the importance to them of keeping this seat in the Democratic fold. Losing this seat, made vacant by the retirement of 57-year old Congressman James Langevin, in a solidly Blue state, would move the GOP one step closer to taking control of the House in the next Congress, controlling the lower chamber’s legislative agenda.
Like the strategy of many Democratic candidates facing Republicans in swing states across the nation, Magaziner has attacked positions on Social Security, Medicare, and abortion. He has also tied the former Cranston Mayor, in his negative campaign ads, to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who could become Speaker of the House if the House turned majority Republican. McCarthy has previously supported legislation privatizing the Social Security program, and called for the cutting of Social Security and Medicare benefits. “Watch out, Fung’s no moderate Republican”, say the Democratic attack ads.
Magaziner supporters point to Allan Fung wearing a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap – and – bringing McCarthy, a diehard Trump supporter, to Rhode Island in August to raise money for his campaign. But Fung’s campaign is aware that there were and are Trump supporters in his Congressional District, and that Democrats and Independents are disappointed with President Biden’s policy initiatives.
Magaziner Pledges to Protect Social Security and Medicare
While Magaziner has 29 Labor, Health Care, Democratic and Educational groups endorsing his campaign, last week he picked up a significant endorsement from the Washington, DC-based National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM). Since 1982, NCPSSM’s mission is to protect benefits of Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. The Democratic House candidate, who has served as the state’s General Treasurer since 2015, got this endorsement with his pledge, if elected, to fight for strengthening and expanding Social Security and Medicare.
Last week, at the Johnston Senior Center, Mayor Joseph Polisena, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Magaziner, and dozens of senior supporters, welcomed NCPSSM’s Max Richtman, CEO and President, who came to give his blessings to Magaziner in his bid to win Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District seat, and to “warn” older voters what could happen to Social Security and Medicare if the Republicans take control of the House.
The location for the event, Johnston, was no casual selection for the event, as, when the dust settled after the 2020 Presidential election, the majority of the town’s voters had voted for Donald and the Republican agenda. Johnston’s Mayor showed his support for Magaziner, and a clear message to residents to keep a Democrat in the House from the District.
Standing at a podium surrounded by signs with messages such as “Protect our Social Security Benefits” and “No Cuts – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” Mayor Polisena, 68, a Social Security and Medicare beneficiary said, “Medicare and Social Security are for the people like us, the middle class, who are hard-working people. You paid into Social Security and Medicare, and you are entitled to get benefits,” he pointed out.
Over the years, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has been a staunch advocate of the Social Security program by serving on the Defending Social Security Caucus to improve the method for calculating Social Security’s CPI. He now is active in the Senate’s Expand Social Security Caucus.
In 2006, Whitehouse remembered NCPSSM’s Richman coming to the Ocean State “to check him out” to determine if he was a solid supporter on Social Security and Medicare. Ultimately, the Social Security advocacy group would endorse Whitehouse, Jack Reed and Patrick Kennedy in their successful bids to become Congressman from the state of Rhode Island.
“Guess what, if you raise or eliminate the cap on wages that are subject to Social Security taxes it would raise a lot of money for the program”, says Whitehouse, noting it would be fairer and a smart thing to do so. “Instead, Republicans are talking about privatizing Social Security, even making cuts to the program,” he charged, noting that at the highest levels, Republicans want to damage Social Security and Medicare through formal groups like their policy committees.
“Rhode Island has to be the place where this nonsense stops,” says Whitehouse. “If Seth Magaziner is the deciding vote about who becomes Speaker of the House, you know where he will be. You also know where the opponent will be. Once you open that gate, all the monsters come cascading thru whether it be reproductive rights, Medicare, and Social Security. They’re going after it,” he warns.
Whitehouse said: “It is really important for our own sake that we send someone to Washington, DC to protect Social Security and Medicare, and to ultimately expand these programs.”
“I am here to endorse Seth Magaziner and send him to the U.S. House of Representatives, says Richtman, stressing that it is a “very close and competitive race.” This election will determine the future of Social Security and Medicare, he predicted.
Historically in the House when the GOP was in the majority [when Paul Ryan was Speaker of the House] they wanted to cut Social Security, decrease COLAs, increasing Social Security’s full retirement age, and privatizing the Social Security program,” he said.
According to Richtman, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, recently presented a plan that called for “all federal legislation to sunset after five years,” including Social Security. That means every five years Congress will have to recreate Social Security from scratch. “We don’t need that,” he said.
Concluding the Johnston event, Magaziner noted that Fung’s campaign ads attempt to portray his higher-income parents as out of touch with the needs of Social Security beneficiaries. The Democratic candidate clearly remembered how the program helped his blue collar grandparents. “Those checks coming every month enabled them to put food on the table, to afford prescription drugs, and to even purchase an occasional birthday present or Christmas gifts for the kids,” he said.
Magaziner said Social Security is as important as ever. “People are having a hard time to keep up with the rising cost of living. So, this is the right time to not just protect Social Security but to expand the program to make it easier for seniors to keep up with the cost of living,” he says.
The GOP’s recently released Blueprint to Save America raises Social Security’s full retirement age and eliminates benefits to high income,” says Magaziner. “How much longer do they want people to work? We have to hold the line and not let this happen,” he says.
Concluding the press event, Magaziner stated: “My pledge is that if you elect me to the 2nd Congressional District, I will fight any one from any party who would attempt to cut and privatized the Social Security program and advocate for the expansion of the program to help seniors keep up with the rising cost of living.”
“My opponent has already pledged that his very first vote that he is going to take is to make Kevin McCarthy the Speaker of the House. The same Kevin McCarthy who was coauthor of a proposal to cut Medicare and to put Social Security on the stock market,” says Magaziner. “I want the Speaker of the House to defend Social Security and to not make cuts to the program,” he said.
Allen Fung Comes Out Swinging
“Seth is lying because he is losing,” notes Allan Fung, noting that is own mother relies on her Social Security check. “Do you think I would ever do anything to hurt my own mother? It’s absurd,” he says.
Fung claims that the nation’s high inflation rate “is essentially cutting out an entire month’s Social Security check for seniors this year, hurting people who rely on every single penny.”
“We need to look at options that have bipartisan support – like “Scrapping the Cap” that can actually pass and will strengthen the Social Security system. In regards to Medicare, Seth is lying again – no shock to anyone. I actually want to strengthen Medicare benefits to expand coverage for dental work, vision care, and hearing aids,” he says.
“I obviously have a long history as a moderate of taking a balanced approach and working across the aisle to get things done,” says Fung, noting that he did this during his four terms serving as Mayor of Cranston. “In Congress, I’ll take a keen look at the bills that are introduced, and have no issue with cosponsoring legislation on a bipartisan basis when it helps our families here in Rhode Island,” he says.
US Chamber of commerce Director Nick Vaugh weighs in about Fung’s Congressional race. “The son of immigrants, Allan understands the challenges facing job creators, workers, and families in Rhode Island. Allan’s commitment to free enterprise and pro-growth solutions critical to moving Rhode Island and our nation forward has earned him the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber. We are proud to endorse Allan Fung in his election for Congress,” says Vaugh.
Fung views himself as a likeable person who can be an effective moderate lawmaker to represent Rhode Island’s interests in a Republican-controlled House. “I’m more of a [Massachusetts Gov.] Charlie Baker type of individual. I like the work Chris Sununu is doing in New Hampshire, Gov. [Phil] Scott in Vermont, those are Republicans I model myself after,” says Fung, reported by the AXIOS, a news website based in Arlington, Virginia.
Watching from the Sidelines
Dawson Hodgson, who served two terms as a Republican State Senator and disaffiliated from the party in 2016, came to see Magaziner get his latest endorsement from the NCPSSM and expressed his observations about this Congressional race.
“When Congressman Langevin retired, I committed to support the Democratic nominee because I believe Republican control of Congress, in today’s environment, will undermine American values,” said Hodgson, stressing that Seth Magaziner will uphold them. “He is an earnest, hardworking individual who feels a calling to serve out state and nation. While I expect to disagree with his policy views from time to time, it is clear to me that sending Seth to Congress will balance out some of the more extreme positions in the Democratic caucus,” he adds.
“I don’t think Allan Fung, or any Republican can do the same in the current environment. The past 5 years show us “moderate” Republicans must either go along, or get gone,” observes Hodgson.
While he believes Fung is a serious man and a dedicated public servant, Hodgson also views him as a talented politician who will work hard to get elected in a state that doesn’t like a lot of his party’s politics. “He’s implied that Kevin McCarthy promised him the best committees, and also gave him permission to vote against the party on certain issues (but not which ones). That’s the same game Democrats used to play at the RI General Assembly!” he says.
“GOP control of the house means a return to chaos. Expect Benghazi-style hearings attacking all things Biden,” predicts Hodgson. “Allan is a former prosecutor, so I’d expect to see him on those committees working underneath MAGA extremists like Jim Jordan of Ohio or Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia,” he says.
While Fung says he will be an effective moderate lawmaker to represent Rhode Island’s interests in a Republican-controlled House, Hodgson expresses his concerns about this statement. “There is no appetite for moderation in today’s GOP, says Hodson. “Allan Fung is making promises he can’t keep,” he says.
It’s coming down to the wire. According to a new WPPRI-TV and Roger Williams University poll released last Thursday, if the 2nd Congressional District election were held today, 46% of poll respondents stated that they would vote for Fung – 40% for Magaziner – and 4% for Moderate candidate, William Gilbert. The pollsters say that 9% of those polled said they are undecided.
This election cycle, Rhode Island’s Congressional election could have a major impact as to who controls the House and it’s legislative agenda. It’s important that YOU vote.
More resources to review on issues of concern to seniors:
The AARP RI has done a series of interviews with candidates Fung and Magaziner on issues relevant to seniors – you can view them, below:
Social Security – https://www.facebook.com/AARPRI/videos/3041377066153394/
High cost of prescription drugs —https://www.facebook.com/AARPRI/videos/426190556280841
Medicare – https://www.facebook.com/AARPRI/videos/662982298733782/
Caregiving – Go to https://www.facebook.com/AARPRI/videos/1233466400806542