Congressional candidates Kuster, Negron meet at forum

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A forum for House candidates Thursday in the congressional district that covers western and northern New Hampshire featured the incumbent stressing what she has done in Washington and her opponent focusing on what he wouldn’t do.
Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster and her Republican challenger, Steve Negron, met for their first joint appearance ahead of the Nov. 6 election at a 2nd Congressional District forum sponsored by AARP and the Concord Chamber of Commerce.
Negron, a state representative from Nashua, answered several questions by saying Washington has too much power, resulting in massive bureaucracy. Congress, he said, shouldn’t tell states how to lower energy costs, should have no significant role in infrastructure projects and should let states control Medicaid spending through block grants.
“I would trust my state government,” he said.
Negron offered no specifics when asked for examples of working in a bipartisan manner, though he mentioned sitting between two Democrats in the Statehouse. Meanwhile, Kuster described leading a bipartisan task force on the opioid crisis that passed dozens of bills, as well as working with Republicans on the federal farm bill and on behalf of veterans.
Kuster, who is seeking her fourth term, disagreed with Negron on Medicaid, saying she feared block grants would not adequately take into account population shifts at a time when the state’s elderly population is growing. And, she said, infrastructure is a federal responsibility when it comes to the interstate highway system, and she is proud to have helped secure federal funding for the widening of Interstate 93 and other projects.
The two also disagreed on Social Security and Medicare. Negron said Medicare benefits should be maintained for current enrollees, but the program eventually should “morph” into something more sustainable. He promised to do everything in his power to keep Social Security solvent but did not mention specific solutions.
Kuster said she supports making higher income levels subject to Social Security withholding. She said the looming problems with both programs are the result of the Republican-backed tax cuts.
“The only threat to Medicare and Social Security is the tax break for millionaires and billionaires that added $1.5 trillion to the deficit,” she said.