The joint appearance of Mazie Hirono and Ed Case before the American Association of Retired People on Maui on Tuesday revealed one startling difference between the two Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate: Case is trying to run a campaign based on reality and Hirono is, well, either living in a fantasy world or pandering to the electorate.
Their remarks on the subject of raising the eligibility age for Social Security told the whole story. Case said he would support "gradually" increasing that age; Hirono said she would "never support" such an increase. Case favored raising the cap on wages subject to Social Security deductions; Hirono wants to do away with the cap completely.
Case emphasized that his plan would not affect those already receiving benefits - or even those approaching retirement age. In other words, he backs adjusting the eligibility age to reflect the increase in life expectancy. Just like an earlier fix to the system did in the 1980s.
Hirono's approach is pie-in-the-sky. With more and more people living into their 80s and 90s, we can't keep promising them a government payout for life beginning in their 60s. At some point, we are going to have more people retired than working. And, unfortunately, the workers fund Social Security payouts - it is not an insurance system.
Case has also said he would work in a bipartisan way to find solutions to the nation's economic problems. Hirono said she has always worked "collaboratively" to find such solutions.
Sorry, Ms. Hirono, but you can't be ranked the sixth most liberal representative out of 435 in the House and claim to have worked "collaboratively" - not any more than the sixth most conservative representative could make such a claim.
Anyone with that kind of ranking is too ideologically rigid to collaborate. Your refusal to consider raising the age for future Social Security recipients is a perfect example of the inflexibility that is paralyzing Washington. Case realizes it is going to take give on both sides to fix Social Security for the long term.
So it will be up to the voters in the primary to decide what kind of senator they want. Do we want one who will honestly try to fix Social Security or one who is fantasizing that all adjustments can be made in the way of more taxes?
Do we want a senator who will try to work across the aisle? Or one whose record shows her's is a solid vote for ideology without compromise?
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.