Virginia Democratic senatorial candidate Richard J. Davis said yesterday he would favor an increase in Social Security taxes if it was necessary to keep the financially troubled retirement system afloat.
The comment caught Davis in a campaign cross fire with his Republican opponent, Paul S. Trible.
Trible, who spend the past month attempting to portray Davis as a "tax raiser," promptly accused him of having a willingness "to write off an entire generation of Americans."
Davis' comments on the policically sensitive Social Security issue followed a major campaign initiative in which he released a 32-page report chargin that Trible, the congressman from Newport News, was "soft on Social Security" because he voted for legislation cutailing some benefits.
Davis, on the other hand, told a group of senior citizens at an Alexandria nursing home that the country's financial obligations under Social Security must be met no matter what, adding "I don't care where it comes from. And if that's tough luck for the younger generation, that's their tough luck." for the younger generation, that's their tough luck."
Trible responded in a statement that Davis's "flippancy and willingness to write off an entire generation of Americans shows a lack of compassion. I'm angry. He's trying to make a political football out of something that should be of bipartisan concern."
Davis stood by his position in a later statement, but added, "Perhaps I overstated it."
The flap over Social Security came in the midst of a two-day campaign swing through Northern Virginia by Davis -- an area that he said yesterday would probably be the decisive battleground in his race with Trible. During the tour, Davis hammered away at Trible for his record of absenteeism in the Congress, an issue his campaign staff believes is catching on thanks to a tough, 30-second radio commercial they are running throughout the state.
In his comments on Social Security, Davis acknowledged that he did not have any plans of his own for restoring financial solvency to the system and wanted to wait for the report of the National Commission on Social Security Reform, to be issued after the November elections.