Final Debate: Ernst, Braley Differ over Abortion and Social Security

Oct 16, 2014

Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley and Republican State Senator Joni Ernst squared off in their final debate for Iowa's open U.S. Senate seat at Morningside College in Sioux City Thursday night. 

Braley and Ernst were asked to clarify their stances on fixing social security. Social Security's trust fund is projected to run out in about two decades, potentially reducing Social Security benefits by as much as 25%.

Congressman Braley wants millionaires and billionaires to pay the same portion of earned income into social security as less wealthy Americans.

“My plan would dramatically increase the amount of money in the social security trust fund and would actually increase benefits for seniors,” Braley said.

Ernst said any solution shouldn’t affect the benefits of retired Americans, or those nearing retirement age.

"One option would be bringing in new state and local workers that are not currently engaged in the social security system," Ernst said.

Braley also suggested raising the federal minimum wage as a solution to better fund social security, while Ernst disagreed. 

Abortion was another topic posed to the candidates. Ernst was asked when she thinks it should be legal for a woman to terminate her pregnancy.

“I support life so, going to back to perhaps the life of the mother I think that would be important, said Ernst. "But again, civil discussions have to happen."

Ernst said she supports life at conception.

Replying to a similar question Braley said, "I oppose all late-term abortions that aren’t necessary to save the life or health of a mother." 

There are less than 20 days before the election and many polls show the race too close to call. The two are competing for retiring Democratic Senator Tom Harkin's U.S. Senate seat.