Democrat Nancy Boyda today accused U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, R-Lawrence of wanting to privatize Social Security.
Ryun, seeking a fifth term in Congress, said Boyda had misstated his position and that he hadn't settled on a plan to change Social Security.
But Boyda produced an Aug. 4 letter from Ryun to senior citizens that said: "Here is my plan for reforming the system."
Ryun wrote that he wanted to give younger people "increased control over their Social Security investments" and mentioned a bill that would allow workers to divert some of their Social Security payments into private security accounts.
Ryun later said he was listing options that are being considered in Congress.
Boyda called his response "Washington doublespeak."
The two squared off in a debate that was taped at public broadcasting station KTWU.
Ryun and Boyda are vying to represent the 2nd Congressional District, which includes western Lawrence.
Facing a panel of reporters and Washburn University professor Bob Beatty, the two candidates displayed wide differences on health care, education and assault weapons.
At one point, Ryun criticized Boyda for loaning funds to her own campaign. "My opponent is kind of wealthy. She has put $265,000 of her own money into this. That's what I don't particularly care for," he said.
Boyda shot back that money was from her lifetime savings, including her pay "when I scooped Baskin-Robbins ice cream when I was 13-years-old."
On health care, Ryun said he favored the development of business health associations, but Boyda noted that Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger has opposed such a proposal, saying it could increase health insurance costs for small businesses.
Boyda said she wanted to use the drug-purchasing power of Medicaid and Medicare as leverages to get discounts from drug companies. Ryun said that would lead to a government-run health care system.
On education, Boyda said she would support legislation to allow states to opt out of the federal controls of No Child Left Behind law. Ryun voted against the law, but defended the levels of funds spent by the federal government on education.
On guns, Ryun said he opposed the assault weapons ban, which recently expired. Boyda said she supported the ban.
The debate will be broadcast on Topeka NBC afiliate KSNT-TV from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday and from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday on KTWU.
Libertarian candidate Dennis Hawver wasn't invited to the debate.