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Kingston wants debate on big issues of debt, government role

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 7:03 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 12:48 AM
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In a field crowded with Georgia Congressman seeking the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Jack Kingston wants to see them debate some of the most fundamental and politically risky questions about the role and size of government in the future.

Rep. Jack Kingston is seeking to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Rep. Jack Kingston is seeking to replace Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Speaking Monday to The Augusta Chronicle editorial board, the Savannah-based Republican said during the recent government shutdown, much of the coverage focused on the inconvenience to people or the closing of monuments and not enough on what Kingston said was the real cause, the national debt. That and other fundamental questions should be the focus during the campaign, he said.

“I think we have a big debate in society right now on the level of taxation, the amount of income redistribution, the amount of government services and what we want our relationship with government to be,” said Kingston, one of eight candidates seeking to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. “I think it’s a really profound debate because some people want more government, they’re willing to give up more freedom for security, and others are outraged by it.”

Part of the response should be a focus on getting people back to work, he said.

“I do think part of it has to be turning the economy around,” Kingston said.

Reducing government waste should also be a focus – there are 47 federal job training programs and that clearly should be trimmed down, he said. But there should also be a debate on what Kingston called the “thin ice” issues – the military, health care and retirement. In Social Security, there should be a recognition that people are living longer, he said. In 1900, there were a couple thousand people 100 or older, Kingston said, where in the 2010 Census there were 53,364. That will only increase due to medical advances, he said.

“For us to say that Social Security (eligibility) is at 65, it’s a guarantee for disaster,” Kingston said. “So I think you have to get on that thin ice of we have to look at changing the retirement age. I’ve actually voted for that. That’s a vote which I am sure I will be hearing about. But I think you have to have politicians who are willing to risk their political career if you are going to change the country around.”

Kingston said his background in military and agriculture policy positions him best to deal with those issues in the tradition of former U.S. senators from Georgia.

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Bodhisattva 11/05/13 - 08:01 am
Easy to say for an insurance

Easy to say for an insurance salesman and now a Congressman. I suggest Rep. Kingston try a few years at a job where he has to work for a living and see if he can keep it up to 65, much less to possibly 70. Maybe some roofing in the summertime, or factory work with heavy parts and an assembly line that never slows down. We can live longer because medical science keeps us from dying from things that used to kill us. It doesn't keep the body from wearing out after years of hard labor. We can replace some of the parts IF your employer is willing to grant enough sick time, insurance, and rehabilitation for you to heal and return to work. Other times, the body just starts wearing out from over use. I did factory work in my youth. It strained my body to the maximum. The older people there were worn out and in constant pain. Make them work more years Rep. Kingston, I'm sure all of that sitting and talking wears you out too.

From The Congressional Research Service:
"Under both CSRS and FERS, Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary."

By gosh, you started serving in 1993. That's 20 years. You're also over 50 (58). By my reading, you're eligible to retire now, at 58, at a full pension with 80% of the average of the highest 3 years of your salary. The current salary is, I think, $174,000. That makes 80% at $139,200 a year. It might be a little lower since one of the year's salary might be a little lower. The poor saps on Social security should be so lucky.

bright idea
bright idea 11/05/13 - 02:21 pm
When will they start?

If retirement age is pushed to 70 will it make a real difference to SS? Right now the 22-30 age group have little opportunity to work stable, decent paying jobs to start contributing to the system. Sounds like just switching the load to me.

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