Very happy Merkley joined his colleagues, Senators Mark Begich (D. AK), Tom Harkin (D. IA), Sherrod Brown (D. OH), Brian Schatz (D. HI), Elizabeth Warren (D. MA) and Bernie Sanders (I. VT) in pushing to expand Social Security. It may not get passed this year with this congress but Merkley is helping to keep this debate going and this message alive. I can't say I'm worried about Merkley's re-election chances. But Republicans are hoping to pull off an upset victory in this race:Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley on Thursday said he will introduce legislation calling for a higher cost-of-living increase for Social Security recipients, which would be paid for by a tax increase on those earning wages of more than $250,000 a year.
Merkley, appearing at the Hollwyood Senior Center in Northeast Portland, began to flesh out the details of how he would increase Social Security benefits -- something he said earlier this year was necessary because a growing number of seniors don't have much in the way of pensions or retirement savings.
Merkley said he thought his plan was politically viable because "the number of people having the blessing of earning more than $250,000 is relatively small," meaning that most voters would not face a tax increase.
Merkley also said he is promoting the plan now because of growing evidence that many seniors are financially hurting and as a way to push back against proposals to trim cost-of-living increases to help ensure the health of the Social Security trust fund.
"It's time that we stop talking about reducing Social Security benefits and instead focus on giving our seniors a raise," Merkley said. I hear too many stories in Oregon about seniors who are struggling to stay afloat on their Social Security benefits."
Merkley said that imposing Social Security taxes on wages above $250,000 would also generate enough revenue to keep the trust fund solvent for 35 to 40 years -- roughly twice what it is under current law. - The Oregonian, 4/24/14
Right now both Republican candidates are duking it for the nominee:Republicans believe 2014 might represent their best shot to unseat Merkley, in large part because it just gets harder and harder to dislodge an incumbent with each successive election.
The GOP field of five candidates essentially boils down to two: Jason Conger, a state representative from Bend, was the front-runner until Portland pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby entered the race. ...
The Conger-Wehby showdown is interesting — and has captured some national attention as well — because it might suggest a future direction for the Oregon Republican Party, which has struggled in recent years in statewide races. ...
(T)he truly interesting angle here is that Wehby appears to be to Conger’s left on certain social issues. For example, Wehby is pro-choice on abortion and is sympathetic to same-sex marriage. These positions have raised eyebrows nationally, and have led at least some pundits to proclaim that Wehby is more electable than Conger in a statewide race against a Democrat.
The New York Times, for example, breathlessly reported that Wehby is a “moderate who could resonate with Oregonians suffering from Obama fatigue.”
Not so fast, said Conger, who pointed to recent polls by a national Republican pollster indicating that he fares better than Wehby in head-to-head matchups against Merkley. - Statesman Journal, 4/23/14
But Merkley's internal polling shows him with double digit leads over both Republican frontrunners:Both candidates want to talk about the campaign’s pivotal issue, health care. Or, more specifically, who opposes Obamacare more?
Conger, a second-term legislator from Bend, insists he has always opposed the Affordable Care Act and voted for bills that established the Cover Oregon insurance exchange only because they represented the lesser or two evils.
He and some Republicans joined most Democrats out of a sense of states' rights, Conger said. Oregon’s failure to establish its own insurance exchange would only have prompted the federal government to take that step on its own.
Wehby, a Portland pediatric neurosurgeon, told a gathering of conservatives recently that Conger has voted "five times to aid and abet Oregon’s Obamacare.” A billboard carrying the same message also appeared in recent weeks. - The Oregonian, 4/23/14
Lets make sure Merkley's campaign is ready to win in November. Click here to donate and get involved with Merkley's re-election bid:Merkley leads Monica Wehby, 52 percent to 32 percent, among likely voters, according to a survey Benenson Strategy Group conducted on his campaign’s behalf.
D.C. Republicans have touted Wehby, a brain surgeon, as the kind of candidate who could put blue Oregon in play against Merkley. She was the subject of a weekend Associated Press feature outlining factors that could bolster her, including Obamacare’s rocky debut in Oregon; traditionally lower Democratic turnout in many states in midterms; and Wehby’s fundraising potential.
But there’s no guarantee Wehby will qualify for the November ballot. Among likely voters in the state’s all-mail Republican primary next month, Wehby (22 percent) and state Rep. Jason Conger (24 percent) run neck-and-neck, according to the poll.
More than half of likely GOP voters said they were undecided.
Merkley leads Conger by a similar margin in the general, 50 percent to 34 percent, according to the survey. - Politico, 4/22/14