SFTP Candidate Forum
On Monday 10/4, assisted by South Florida 912, the South Florida Tea Party held a well-attended candidate forum in the Borland Center in Palm Beach Gardens.
After an introduction by SFTP Director Pam Wohlschlegel, the Pledge of Allegiance by 912’s Jason Shields, and the anthem sung by Lou Galterio, special guest Joyce Kaufman whipped up the crowd for the main event. Organized as two forums with pre-arranged questions, congressional candidates for districts 16 (Tom Rooney and Jim Horn), 19 (Joe Budd), 22 (Allen West) and 23 (surrogate for Bernard Sansaricq) faced off, followed by the state level candidates for FS27 (Lizbeth Benacquisto), FH83 (Pat Rooney and Mark Marciano), FH84 (Albert Key), FH85 (Tami Donnally and Joe Abruzzo), FH87 (Bill Hager) and FH89 (Steven Rosenblum).
In her introduction, Pam restated the three areas of interest of the Tea Party – fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government and free markets, and said the questions would be limited to these areas. That was mostly true, although the area of illegal immigration tended to stray beyond its economic impact.
A synopsis of the candidates answers to the questions can be found below the pictures.
The first question asked the congressional candidates if they would extend the Bush tax cuts – all said yes, although Democrat Horn qualified it with “for now”, and Joe Budd added that he would keep the estate tax exemption at last year’s $3.5M rather than letting it stay unlimited.
Next up was the cost of Obamacare. Rooney put it at $1 trillion and would like to see it repealed or defunded until we have a new President in 2012 when we can implement tort reform. Jim Horn said its biggest loss was to our freedom. Budd said it will destroy Medicare for seniors by setting the reimbursement rates to half that of Medicaid. Allen West called it socialism, bureacracy, taxes and the introduction of education control through the student loan provisions. The Sansaricq position was that it is socialism – repeal or defund.
Asked about the effect Amnesty would have on the economy, Rooney brought up the strain illegals put on the health care infrastructure and schools, and emphasized the rule of law. Horn wants to control the borders, then discuss comprehensive reform. Budd tagged it as a $200M problem for health care, and a $4B problem for the schools, that we need work visas but NO AMNESTY. West compared the problem to the fall of Rome, that the constitution provides for controlling the borders and gives states the right to protect themselves if the federal government fails to do so, and suggested that the border patrol should train with the military. The Sansaricq position is no amnesty, encourage legal immigration, that our capitalist republic is at risk.
Asked for 3 bills they would introduce to spur economic growth, Tom Rooney stressed not punishing success. Jim Horn would impose a tax penalty on companies that outsource jobs overseas, and Joe Budd would roll back regulations, lower corporate tax rates and implement a sound domestic energy policy. Allen West would reverse the growth of the public sector, reform the tax code with a flat tax, stop the bailouts, bring back the Glass-Steagall act, and encourage the return of the manufacturing sector. Sansaricq would secure the borders, implement e-verify, repeal Obamacare and institute term limits.
FInally, the candidates were asked for specific budget cuts. Rooney wants to roll back spending to 2008 and end everything instituted since then. Horn would also roll back to 2008. Budd would cut his own office budget and call for across the board cuts, while West would go back to 1975 and evaluate all the programs started since then, killing the ones that have been unproductive. The Sansaricq camp changed the subject and called on Alcee Hastings to debate him.
State Legislature Panel
The first question was to list 3 bills to spur economic growth in the state. Lizbeth Benacquisto wants to cut spending, stated that government does not create jobs but should foster an environment that is friendly to business and cut taxes. Steven Rosenblum would end the drilling bans, implement tort reform at the state level, audit the budget, and implement a zero-based budget process for the state. Bill Hager would get government out of the way, have lower taxes and fewer regulations, and make an effort to attract business from the high tax states like New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Joe Abruzzo wants to teach Portuguese and Mandarin in the state schools (sees China and Brazil as trading partners), offer income tax holidays for new businesses, and streamline tax reporting processes. Tami Donnally would support small business 99% and eliminate costly mandates and regulations. Albert Key would kill the business intangible tax and eliminate $5 from the drivers license fee. Mark Marciano would reduce regulations, lower the time needed to obtain permits, incent startups in areas outside of tourism and agriculture. Pat Rooney would eliminate overlapping departments in state government and cut regulations.
On the question of amnesty, all were against it for various reasons, and most stressed the costs and the need to support the rule of law. Rosenblum and Hager were in favor of an Arizona style law. Mark Marciano stressed fixing the border.