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Future of abortion and Social Security focus of congressional debate between Larson, Lazor

Heated point and counterpoint between John Larson (D-incumbent) and Dr. Larry Lazor (R) during the Election 2022 debate for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District held at the SBM Charitable Foundation Auditorium on the campus of Manchester Community College In Manchester, Connecticut October 11, 2022.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Heated point and counterpoint takes place between incumbent John Larson (D) and Dr. Larry Lazor (R) during the Election 2022 debate for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District. The debate was held at the SBM Charitable Foundation Auditorium on the campus of Manchester Community College in Manchester, Conn., Oct. 11, 2022.

Social Security will announce a cost-of-living adjustment on Thursday – and it could be about a 9% increase. But as birth rates drop, the long-term solvency of the program remains uncertain.

Social Security’s future was a central issue in Tuesday night’s debate between the two candidates for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District.

Incumbent Democrat John Larson, chairman of the House Ways and Means Social Security subcommittee, has proposed a plan to make higher-earners pay into the program more.

The passion for their issues was in full view as John Larson (D-incumbent) and Dr. Larry Lazor (R) trade views during the Election 2022 debate for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District held at the SBM Charitable Foundation Auditorium on the campus of Manchester Community College In Manchester, Connecticut October 11, 2022.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
The passion for their issues is in full view as incumbent John Larson (D) and Dr. Larry Lazor (R) trade views during the Election 2022 debate for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District held at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Conn., Oct. 11, 2022.

“I’m not just about protecting Social Security, I’m about expanding the benefits. Because it hasn’t been done. It hasn’t been done in 51 years,” Larson said. “This is a need that Congress can no longer neglect.”

His Republican challenger, Larry Lazor, said any plan to save Social Security needs to include permanent changes to benefits.

“So seniors don’t think they’re going to get a benefit and then it’s taken away. Let’s have it paid for,” Lazor said. “Yes, we need to increase taxes to save Social Security. I totally get that. We need to come up with a plan that works.”

Under the current system, Social Security benefits are only expected to be payable in full until the mid-2030s.

Both candidates found common ground on the issue of abortion 

Abortion rights continue to be a topic of debate between Democrats and Republicans heading into November’s midterm elections. But Larson and Lazor found a lot of common ground on the issue.

Larson said he will continue to fight for abortion rights.

“These are the kinds of decisions that should be left up to doctors and nurse practitioners,” Larson said. “But, most importantly, to the women who are involved and who have to go through the ordeal of pregnancy.”

Lazor is an OB-GYN who has worked in Hartford since 1990.

Dr. Larry Lazor (R) making his point on Social Security to John Larson (D-incumbent) during the Election 2022 debate for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District held at the SBM Charitable Foundation Auditorium on the campus of Manchester Community College In Manchester, Connecticut October 11, 2022.
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Republican Dr. Larry Lazor (right) makes his point to incumbent Democrat John Larson during the Election 2022 debate for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District held at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Conn., Oct. 11, 2022.

“I’ve been an advocate for women’s health since that time,” he said. “I think I could be a good influence in Congress, talking about this issue. I’ve met with women – one-on-one – in very difficult situations, talking about their decisions.”

Larson commended Lazor for an op-ed he wrote in the Hartford Courant about how he believes outlawing elective abortions will increase dangers for women.

Lazor called abortion a last resort. But he said protecting elective abortions “is best for the potential mother, best for the family and best for society.”

About the candidates

Democrat John Larson represents Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He took office in 1999 and has served 12 terms.

He grew up in East Hartford and attended college and high school in Connecticut.

In Congress, Larson has served as the chair of the Democratic Caucus of the House. He also promotes his chairmanship on the House Ways and Means subcommittee on Social Security.

Republican Larry Lazor works as a physician at Hartford Hospital. Lazor and his wife have lived in the Hartford area for more than 50 years.

He describes himself as a moderate Republican focused on the economy. He has said his time working in health care provides him with a fresh perspective to serve in government.

Video: Watch the debate

Connecticut Public’s Lisa Hagen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Patrick Skahill is a reporter and digital editor at Connecticut Public. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of Connecticut Public Radio's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. He can be reached at pskahill@ctpublic.org.

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