Pallone, Little face off in first public debate
ABERDEEN, N.J. — Although there are only weeks left until Election Day, candidates of New Jersey's 6th congressional district faced each other last night for the first time at the Temple Shalom.
Moderated by the League of Women Voters, Democratic incumbent Rep. Frank Pallone and his Republican challenger Anna Little answered audience-generated questions that revealed their stances and solutions on issues ranging from the economic crisis to immigration policy.
Little, who believes Pallone has lost touch with his constituents, said it is essential that economic concerns and issues be addressed immediately.
"The most important issue facing us as Americans today is jobs and the economy and the taxes and how that all relates to a healthy economy," she said.
To reduce the current deficit, Little aims to reduce government spending as well as the size of government overall.
"We don't deficit spend at home," she said. "When the balance in the banking account is zero, we stop spending. We need to have more revenue before we can spend again."
A simple, straightforward method is the best approach to deal with the issue, Little said.
On the other hand, Pallone proposed a more specific reduction to defense spending.
"We have to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan," Pallone said. "We have to stop spending so much money on these overseas ventures."
Pallone said he does not support the war and thinks it has been a tremendous waste of funding.
The deficit can be brought under control further by renewing the tax policy at the end of the year that will prevent large tax cuts to corporations and wealthy people, he said.
"My opponent … wants to eliminate the federal income tax, which is a progressive tax. It basically taxes people more if they're wealthy and also taxes corporations and replace it with a national sales tax," Pallone said.
This change would give New Jersyans an estimated 23 percent national tax that would be added on to their 7 percent state tax, Pallone said. In reality, people would have to pay a 30 percent tax on all things they purchase.
"I think it is totally in appropriate in terms of tax policy," Pallone said. "It should be progressive and people should be paying based on their income."
Although Little supports a 12 percent flat tax, she said Pallone did not understand the concept of a fair tax, which is the system he described.
"Under a fair tax, you would receive a broadened tax base where you would probably end up paying less than the 23 percent because more people would be paying it," Little said.
Right now 50 percent of Americans pay tax, but she said it should be 100 percent.
"More tax payers mean each individual pays less tax," Little said.
Aside from reforming the tax system, Little said she intends to create jobs by cultivating the small and midsize business level, where most job growth occurs.
"The whole point of going into business is to make a profit and to grow," she said. "Every large corporation used to be a small business. That's how it works."
The best way to help business is to support a free market that will foster competition and consumer demand, Little said.
"Government needs to get out of the way," she said. "We need to revisit regulations and make sure they are not stifling economic growth."
But Pallone believes in a "Make it in America" strategy that will encourage national manufacturing and more jobs at home.
"We have to plug up tax loop holes that send jobs overseas and look at a lot of the unfair trade practices of other countries like China and make sure they stop," he said.
Pallone said he also wants to develop green jobs and emphasize renewable energy.
"For our district, it's very important that we have a clean environment," he said. "So I think we have to clean up the toxic waste sites that then can be basically recycled and made into good industrial sites or commercial sites."
As part of their goals, The League of Women Voters moderated the debate to provide a way for the public to hear the issues, said Deborah Macmillan, a member of the group.
"One of our main issues is informing people, educating people, encouraging participation in government," said Macmillan, who was the moderator. "This is one the main ways we do that."
Although some members in the audience attended in support of one candidate, Macmillan said she routinely overhears audience members consider the views of the opposing side.
"I think there's education even when [people] lean," she said.