Voters in the 6th Congressional District have a choice between competing theories of government.
Incumbent Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone says government has a role to play in improving citizens’ lives. His chief opponent, Anna Little, disagrees. The Republican wants to limit the role of the federal government and reduce the tax burden on citizens.
There are four other candidates: Libertarian Len Flynn, Reform Party candidate Herbert Tarbous, and perennial independent candidates Mac Dara Lyden and Karen Zaletel. None of them responded to repeated requests by NJ Spotlight to discuss the issues.
The major party candidates differ on nearly all issues.
Pallone opposes budget recommendations made by the Simpson-Bowles Commission because of their impact on Social Security and Medicare, and believes there is a place for the federal government in education and environmental regulations. He supports the American Jobs Act and the use of federal stimulus funds to improve the economy and believes government should work with banks to modify mortgages for homeowners in danger of foreclosure.
Little is calling for a 10 percent cut in spending, tax reform and a transition away from so-called entitlements, with charities being brought in to help provide social services. She believes education is a state responsibility, and supports school choice and vouchers. She believes that climate change should be studied and that the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which the state left at Gov. Chris Christie’s direction, was a tax on energy. She believes the Affordable Care Act should be repealed and opposes the American Jobs Act. She says tax reform would be a more effective way to restore the economy and create jobs.
Pallone and Little faced off in 2010. Pallone came out ahead, winning re-election with 53 percent of the vote in a year in which Republicans picked up 63 Congressional seats nationally.
A member of the House of Representatives since 1989, Pallone was critical of the recommendations by the chairmen of the commission officially known as the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that was charged with recommending policies to improve the nation’s fiscal health. The report by former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wy.) and Erskine Bowles, former chief of staff to President Clinton, called for changes to Social Security, cuts to entitlements and a reform of the tax code.
Pallone said the recommendations would result in reductions in Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Those cuts, he said, “would adversely affect the middle class and in particular seniors. We should not cut programs that benefit the middle class and seniors, but instead should eliminate corporate tax loopholes and reduce defense spending.”
Little said that the regular budget process should be used to balance the budget, especially with “acceptable balanced budget proposals produced in the House.” She advocates an additional 10 percent in spending cuts covering all federal discretionary spending, achieved through attrition, streamlining of procedures using technology, and contract renegotiations.
“No one department should bear all the burden,” she said. “Where services are duplicated at a local level of government, duplication should be eliminated, especially where the functions of that department are not a constitutionally enumerated power.”
Tax reform, including reduced rates and the elimination of loopholes, should be paired with the cuts to “encourage business growth in the private sector, reducing demand for entitlements and further reducing spending.”
She called the Affordable Care Act “socialized medicine” and said that it would reduce access to care.
“The half trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare will result in rationing of care,” she said. “The elimination of religious liberty to all Americans via the HHS Mandate will result in the closing of Catholic hospitals and other charitable institutions, increasing demand on government services.”
She said the law “is punishing to job creators with 50 employees or more, stifling the economy (and) results in countless new taxes to all Americans.”
Rather than create a larger system, she said, access to health insurance can be expanded by eliminating overregulation and fixing the economy.
“We must promote private sector job creation and economic recovery,” she said. “We must reform insurance industry regulations, permitting purchase of health insurance directly by individuals via a free market model according to consumer demand. We must address tort reform to reduce health care costs. Action by both the federal government and state government in their proper roles is necessary to accomplish these goals.”
Pallone, who voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act, said he would continue to support it because it was “enacted to address a fundamental national problem: the crisis of over 50 million uninsured Americans, including those in New Jersey.”
He said the law expanded Medicaid and created group marketplaces where American families will be able to shop for affordable insurance, and ensures that people cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
“Today, the law is already benefiting millions of Americans by reducing costs and providing needed access to health-care coverage,” he said.
Pallone supports a comprehensive jobs plan to get more Americans back to work. He backs legislation that would create jobs by building new projects and upgrading existing transportation infrastructure.
“I believe we can do this through the Democrats’ ‘Make It In America’ agenda, which does more to encourage businesses to make products in the U.S. and supports investments in important and promising areas like education and clean energy innovation,” Pallone said. “Manufacturing has been a key part of the American Dream, and we must protect and renew it by insisting that more products be ‘Made in America.’”
An important component of the job-creation agenda is the president’s American Jobs Act, which Pallone says “will help rebuild our economy by reviving American manufacturing, developing new and innovative energy sources, educating and creating a stronger and more skilled workforce and renewing our American values.”
Little opposes the jobs act and believes the best approach is to reduce the tax burden on the private sector.
“Tax reform accomplished at the federal level will create an environment in which private sector business growth creates jobs for Americans,” she said. “Tax reform will also bring offshore investments back to the U.S., and reduce outsourcing of jobs to foreign job markets, encouraging economic recovery.”
Supporting growth, she said, also is the best way to deal with foreclosures.
“Economic recovery is necessary for the housing market to improve and for foreclosures to be avoided,” she said. “Americans need jobs in order to pay their monthly bills. The federal government has the ability to encourage economic recovery by reducing government spending and establishing tax reform that creates an economic environment where private sector jobs will be created.”
Pallone said a lot more needs to be done to help homeowners facing foreclosure, especially with the numbers rising. The foreclosure crisis “places hardship on families retaining their homes, but it also can hurt local property values if abandoned properties sit idle for long periods of time.”
He said the government has a role in keeping people in their homes, “especially given the tough economy.”
“One way the government should assist is by facilitating more mortgage modifications for homeowners having trouble making payments,” he said. “This will benefit homeowners trying to make their payments but who just can’t afford the full payment, and it will benefit banks that will be able to restructure payments instead of kicking families out of their homes.”