One of the few questions 8th Congressional District candidates Steve Santarsiero and Brian Fitzpatrick were asked during a “Meet the Candidates” forum on Thursday in Telford was whether the next Congress should consider another investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email controversy.
Both candidates seemed to think such action is unnecessary.
“I don’t think it would be productive for the next Congress to spend a whole lot of taxpayer dollars or time doing yet another investigation into an issue that the FBI has already investigated,” Santarsiero said.
Santarsiero, a Democrat and Clinton supporter, compared this to Congress investigating whether Donald Trump’s $25,000 contribution to a group supporting the reelection of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was connected to the decision not to join a lawsuit against Trump University.
“I don’t think it would make a lot of sense,” Santarsiero said. “That level of partisan politics is not where we should be focusing our attention.”
Fitzpatrick, a Republican and former FBI agent himself, stood behind FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to bring charges against Clinton.
“To go from probable cause to proof beyond a reasonable doubt and convince a jury of 12 people to unanimously convict the first-ever female presidential nominee in our country’s history (is) highly unlikely,” he said. “Director Comey knows that part of his job is to protect the credibility of the bureau … He made the decision for the right reasons and it was devoid of politics.”
Those who attended the event at the Indian Valley Country Club also wanted to know the candidates’ thoughts on the U.S. corporate tax structure, territorial taxation and the national debt.
Santarsiero supports bringing the corporate tax down from 35 percent, where it currently stands, to 25 percent, but noted that the lost revenue would have to be replaced somehow. He said territorial taxation is something “we should look at,” but that addressing the disparity in the corporate tax rate between the United States and other countries should be done first.
A territorial taxation would allow U.S.-based companies with operations in other countries to be taxed on their domestic income only.
Santarsiero said that fiscal policy should be focused on job growth, wage growth and workforce development modeled to keep pace with technological development.
Fitzpatrick called for a lower corporate tax rate, too, and going to a territorial tax system.
“Trade deficits as far as the eye can see, annual budget deficits as far as the eye can see, 19.5 trillion in debt,” he said. “These are unsustainable numbers.”
To combat the deficit, he supports a balanced budget amendment to implement zero-based budgeting on the federal level. In this system of budgeting, you start with zero and approve line items of a budget rather than approving an entire budget based on previous years and making the pieces fit.
Fitzpatrick said that systems where budget surpluses are taken out of the next year’s allotment “encourage waste, and discourage efficiency.”
He emphasized a strong economy as a means to strengthening national security.
“A weak economy means that we can’t defend ourselves at a point in time in our country’s history when we are living in a world that is more dangerous than it ever has been,” FItzpatrick said. “I know that because I’ve seen it, behind the curtain.”
The candidates were given time to discuss issues of their own choosing.
Santarsiero went through his background as a lawyer, social studies teacher at Bensalem High School, Lower Makefield supervisor and state representative. He spoke about how in years when the state had major budget impasses, 2009 and 2015 specifically, he did not take a paycheck until a budget was passed.
He said he supports the “no budget, no pay” ideal on the federal level as well.
He also said he turned down the per diems and state car offered to him during his time in the Pennsylvania House.
Other issues Santarsiero addressed were the importance of investing in infrastructure, emphasizing early childhood education and reforming the cost of higher education.
Fitzpatrick spoke about problems in foreign policy, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cyber security, border security and economic security.
He said he supports term limits and is against congressional pensions. His version of a “no budget, no pay” system has politicians forfeiting, not delaying, their own paychecks.
“I am a firm believer that the problems we face on a national level, the problems we face on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. must be fixed by people coming from outside the system,” he said.