The contest for Michigan’s 10th Congressional District is expected to be tight this year, as Kimberly Bizon (D), an online advertising director returning to the campaign trail after a 2018 congressional run, squares off against Lisa McClain (R), a financial services executive seeking to represent a district that President Donald Trump carried handily in 2016.
To understand how they plan to protect Social Security and Medicare, stimulate the economy, lower prescription drug prices and ensure that Americans have access to affordable long-term care, AARP Michigan asked each candidate to answer five key questions in 60-second videos. Here are their responses, with transcripts:
1. Social Security is a self-financed, off-budget program that half of all seniors rely on for more than 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
Bizon: We absolutely cannot cut Social Security benefits in any capacity, at all. And one of the things that was really kind of interesting was the administration went ahead and redid that tax cut, and that tax cut did not help out Social Security or people. It just helped out the rich and the top 1 percent. So we need to get back to taxing the 1 percent. We also need to change the threshold beyond what the current income medium is in order that people contribute into Social Security. So I’m a huge supporter of expanding that beyond $126,000 a year. So we need all hands on board when it comes to Social Security and [to] make sure that we keep that fund going for the needs of the American people.
McClain: Social Security is of vital importance to many Americans. And let me say it again: Social Security is of vital importance to many Americans. We must ensure that we are not taking money out of the Social Security trust fund for other purposes. People have paid into this for their entire lives, and they deserve to get their money back. We must look into all options to ensure Social Security remains available for the younger generation.
2. On average, health care already accounts for $1 out of every $6 spent by seniors. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, lower health care costs and ensure that seniors continue receiving the affordable care they have earned?
McClain: Our seniors depend on Medicare to get their health care. We must work to end all Medicare fraud within the system to ensure our seniors continue to get their care. Seniors have paid into the system, and that is why I support working on making the system more efficient and not expanding it to a “Medicare for All” system.
Bizon: I believe it’s a human right to have access to affordable health care — absolutely. I believe in fixing the Affordable Care Act and also finding a universal health care solution. We haven’t quite dug into [whether] a single-payer system or extended Medicare program [is] the best option. However, I have committed to fixing the Affordable Care Act and making sure that people, especially those with preexisting conditions, do not get thrown off of health care. So, I take health care very seriously, and so do those people that I’ve talked to here in District 10. So, it is a top priority for me when elected.
3. Unemployment during the coronavirus crisis reached the highest levels since the Great Depression, and older Americans have been disproportionately affected. If elected, how will you help Americans over the age of 50 recover economically from the effects of the coronavirus?
Bizon: This pandemic really showed us that we really need a living wage of $15 an hour. I do know that Congress already passed that in 2019 and that it’s sitting in the Senate, so we definitely need that, as well. I totally support the unions, as well. I think they offer great-paying jobs. How we get back on track after this pandemic: I have vowed to support our small businesses here in our rural area of District 10 — very important. A lot of them have closed their doors, so we need to go ahead and look at some opportunities. [Are] there any new manufacturing opportunities? And I think that there are. I also support the space technology center here in Northern Macomb [County]. So I’m completely on board with making sure our businesses can succeed.
McClain: COVID-19 has directly impacted all Americans with the economy, and that includes our seniors. I will work with our president to continue to reopen the economy and increase the stock market. President Trump has overseen record stock market growth, which includes record 401(k)s. And I will work with him to continue that. We must also ensure that Social Security is protected for our seniors and not used to solve other issues COVID-19 has caused.
4. Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. If elected, how will you cut prescription drug prices for all Americans?
McClain: The price of prescription drugs is of critical importance to all Michiganders and Americans. We need to work with all sides to ensure we can lower the cost for all. The government needs to get out of the way and allow for research and development to prosper. We need to bring back development of all prescription drugs to America and end our reliance on other countries, especially China. For something that is so critical to Americans, this is important to do.
Bizon: Our extortion prices here with the drug manufacturing companies — we need to put an end to that. They are actually gouging our pockets, as well as yours, I’m sure. So I believe we need to make a much more competitive market when it comes to prescription drugs to lower our prices. I also think the government needs to come in and put some standards on those prices. It is absolutely outrageous that people are making choices between their prescription drugs and even their mortgage. So I’m completely on board with doing whatever it takes to make sure our prescription drug prices are indeed lower.
5. COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home and in nursing homes and assisted living facilities?
Bizon: What would I do if elected with affordable long-term care at home? This is very important, especially with COVID. Myself and team Bizon, we ended up creating gift bags for over 7,000 seniors who are living in assisted living and nursing homes during this pandemic, because we are thinking of them and their lockdown and their families and their loved ones. We need to get out [of] this COVID crisis, and we need to wear our masks and move on so people can be with their loved ones. When we talk about long-term home care, we need more resources, and we need to be able to make sure that those people who choose to take care of their loved ones at home don’t have the financial burden of any extra costs. So, I’m completely on board. I’ve listened on the campaign trail, and I’m here for you.
McClain: We must protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19, and that includes our seniors in long-term care facilities. We must not put them at increased risk. This also is a mental health crisis. Our seniors have been cut off from society, and that’s not good for their health. We have to ensure they are safe but also living their lives throughout this situation.
Also of Interest
- What you need to know to vote in Michigan
- Stay up-to-date on the 2020 election
- Hear how Michigan's Senate candidates will fight for voters age 50-plus
AARP is committed to ensuring voters have the information they need to cast their ballot this year. That is why we are publishing the AARP Asks the Candidates voter guide series, so candidates can share their plans on issues important to 50-plus voters.
AARP has a proud 34-year history of nonpartisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.