U.S. Senate Race
In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Sen. Bob Casey, a Scranton Democrat, faces challenges from U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Hazleton Republican, Neal Taylor Gale, a Green party candidate from Abington Twp., Montgomery County, and Dale R. Kerns Jr., a Libertarian from Ridley Twp., Delaware County.
The two major-party candidates, Casey and Barletta, disagree on several key issues.
On preserving Social Security and Medicare, Casey opposes Social Security privatization and is open to eliminating the cap on income subject to the Social Security payroll tax. He also favors extensive congressional hearings to determine the best strategy for solving Medicare’s financial crisis. Casey voted for the Affordable Care Act and still thinks it’s working because of the coverage for 20 million Americans. He favors expanding Medicare to allow people 55 and older to buy coverage through the system, favors putting Medicaid on Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges.
Barletta, a former Hazleton mayor, favors saving Social Security by boosting economic development to produce more payroll taxes and guaranteeing benefits for anyone 55 and older. Young people might be treated differently to secure the program’s future and, he said. He opposes Social Security privatization and increasing payroll taxes. Barletta also favors saving the Medicare program by boosting economic development to produce more tax dollars and has supported converting Medicare into a program that subsidizes senior citizens so they can buy private insurance on the open market.
Barletta also favors repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a bill that continues protections against denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, creates a more competitive market for the uninsured and a high-risk pool for costly care. Opposes a single-payer health care system.
On immigration, Casey supports the 2013 Senate-passed legislation that would have doubled border patrols, installed 700 miles of fencing along the Mexico border, boosted enforcement of visa overstays; implemented electronic verification of immigration status for employers; required learning English; and created an at least 13-year pathway to citizenship for law-abiding illegal immigrants.
Barletta opposes the 2013 Senate bill, but favors some of its provisions, including mandatory electronic visa and employer verification systems. Favors building a wall, a new guest-worker program for farmers; limiting immigration to spouses and immediate family members; and offering visas to immigrants with skills to fill jobs that lack enough Americans to fill them.
Favors extensive hearings to find solutions, but does not think a single-payer system is the answer.
The annual salary for a U.S. senator is $174,000; the term is six years.
Here are the latest results in Lackawanna and Luzerne counties for the race: