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McCaskill opposes major changes to senior programs

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said Wednesday that controlling costs should not mean dramatic changes to Social Security and Medicare.

The Missouri Democrat endorsed more financial means testing for Medicare and efforts to create incentives to control costs. She also suggested levying taxes for Social Security on a greater portion of wealthier people’s income.

Right now, taxes for Social Security are charged on the first $110,100 of earned income. McCaskill supports levying the taxes on the entire income of those earning at least $250,000 and argues the additional revenue would help shore up the program’s financial footing.

“If we would raise that cap slightly, you get enough additional revenue into the system that it makes the program sound for another 75 years without tinkering with the age of retirement or the size of the benefit,” she said.

McCaskill contrasted her approach to Social Security and Medicare with that of Republican opponent, Congressman Todd Akin. During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, McCaskill charged that Akin wants to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a program offering vouchers for private insurance coverage.

Akin, who represents a suburban St. Louis congressional district, previously said he supports vouchers for Medicare but does not want to privatize the program. On Social Security, Akin has said the retirement age could be raised and he supports consideration for letting people invest in 401k-style plans.

A spokesman for Akin’s campaign did not immediately respond to messages Wednesday.

Meanwhile, McCaskill and Akin have agreed to debate the evening of Oct. 18 at Clayton High School.

The debate is being sponsored by the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and hosted by television station KSDK, public radio station KWMU and the St. Louis Business Journal.

McCaskill and Akin also are to participate in a debate Friday in Columbia sponsored by the Missouri Press Association.

Details are still being negotiated for other potential debates in Kansas City and Springfield.

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