In a debate that mimicked the tenor of the national political climate, candidates for the 8th Congressional District discussed the economy, federal spending, national security, foreign policy and social issues during a debate Thursday at Bucks County Community College’s Lower Bucks Campus in Bristol.
The debate between incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican, and Democrat Kathy Boockvar lasted just over an hour and was moderated by BCCC faculty member Bill Pezza. Every seat in the college’s lobby was taken and onlookers spread to the balcony and throughout the surrounding hallways. It was the second of three debates between the two candidates.
Boockvar aimed to align Fitzpatrick with the national Tea Party movement, saying he has “voted with the Tea Party on every issue of substance over the past 21 months.”
But Fitzpatrick resisted that assertion, saying Boockvar and the Democrats want to expand government and raise taxes to pay for it.
“I believe the federal government should be the right size. The other side of the aisle wants a larger government,” Fitzpatrick said. “They want a larger federal government that taxes more, spends more and takes away your freedoms.”
Boockvar criticized the budget put forth by the House Budget Committee and supported by Fitzpatrick. The House Budget Committee is chaired by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.
The Ryan budget, “is the wrong approach for America,” Boockvar said, adding it would cut key social programs like Medicaid and Medicare. “I’m not looking for a more expanded role, I’m looking for a smarter role," she said.
Not surprisingly, the economy and financial issues took center stage at the debate, with both candidates offering up their solution to cut federal spending and pare down the deficit.
Fitzpatrick argued comprehensive tax reform is necessary. And, he said, millions and billionaires “need to pay their fair share.”
Boockvar advocated putting an end to subsidies for oil and gas companies as well as eliminating the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. “President Bush sent us to war without paying for it and cut taxes at the same time,” Boockvar said.
Social issues, like same sex marriage and access to birth control, were also discussed during the debate. Fitzpatrick said while he believes marriage is an institution between a man and a women, he does not believe the federal government should weigh in on the legality of same-sex marriage. He also noted the federal government should not mandate that all institutions, despite moral beliefs, provide their employees access to birth control.
Boockvar countered, saying the current congress has “really gone out of their way to weaken women’s rights.”
When it came to foreign policy, Fitzpatrick said he believes the federal government should “do everything possible to achieve peace” before sending troops overseas. He criticized the Obama Administration’s handling of Iran, saying sanctions implemented to prevent the country from developing a nuclear weapon have been adequately enforced.
Boockvar strongly agreed that Iran must not possess a nuclear weapon. “We need to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, period,” she said.
A third debate is scheduled for Friday at 8 a.m. at The Water Wheel Restaurant, 4424 Old Easton Rd, Doylestown. That final debate is hosted by the Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce, Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce and the Bucks County League of Women Voters.