Asked for their opinions on privatizing Social Security during their first debate of the election season held Monday night in Hampton Bays, incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop and challenger Lee Zeldin, a state senator, got into a back-and-forth over attack ads put on television by their respective parties.
Both Bishop, of Southampton, and Zeldin, of Shirley, said the other should be denouncing ads issued by national committees.
“One of the most shameful things that we see during campaigns are people say things because they poll well and not because they’re true—because they are trying to win an election,” Zeldin said, as he prefaced his response to the question.
He went on to say that his position on Social Security for people who are close to retirement is, “It’s a commitment and a promise that was made to them, that they expect,” and “I have never in any way shape or form supported privatizing any component of your Social Security.”
Zeldin blasted a television ad aired by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that suggests otherwise.
“This is money we earned,” a man identified as Blue Point resident Walter, a retired teacher, says in the ad. “Lee Zeldin would break Social Security’s promise.”
Zeldin said that he wants Bishop to tell the DCCC to take down that ad because it is “untrue … and it is shameful that you’re letting this go on.”
Bishop insisted the ad the accurate.
“My opponent did in fact say in the 2008 campaign … that he supported privatizing Social Security,” Bishop said, citing Newsday. In an 2008 election preview—the first time the two men faced off at the polls—Newsday wrote that Zeldin supports privatizing Social Security for those under 40 years old.
Bishop said today’s seniors’ Social Security checks are being paid for by today’s young workers; if young people put their money into personal accounts, rather than the Social Security trust fund, there will be no money to meet Social Security obligations for current retirees.
Something needs to be done to preserve Social Security’s future, he said, but, “we have to look at every other option but privatization.”
Regarding whether he should repudiate the DCCC’s TV ad, Bishop said,
“If you want to talk about shameful ads that campaign committees are running, take a look at the one that’s running on your behalf. And then why don’t you look into that camera and why don’t you renounce that,” Bishop told Zeldin. “I doubt you will do it, because it’s the only bullet you’ve got.”
He was refering to the National Republican Congressional Committee ad that labels Bishop “corrupt.”