Fourth District Republican Candidates Talk Taxes, Health Care and Gun Control
The three republican candidates vying for the Fourth District nomination debated on NECN's Broadside last night.
Although they had less than a half hour to make their voices heard, the Republican candidates for the Fourth Congressional District fit in a full plate of issues and opinions during last night's debate on NECN's Broadside with Jim Braude.
Sean Bielat, Elizabeth Childs and David Steinhof joined Braude for a series of questions on topics including gun control, taxes, health care and their potential Democrat opponent.
Just a couple of weeks after the deadly theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Braude started off the debate by asking the candidates whether they would support legislation for increased gun control.
"I think it's a mistake to rush down a legislative path," said Bielat, a major in the U.S. Marines who ran against Barney Frank in 2010.
Steinhoff, a Fall River dentist, agreed that legislation is a "knee-jerk" reaction and that he believes in Second Amendment rights.
Childs, a Brookline resident who served as commissioner of mental health under Governor Mitt Romney, argued that increased legislation is not necessary and instead, states should work more on providing services to people with mental disorders.
On some tax issues, though, the candidates' opinions differed slightly.
When asked whether they would support extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class (not for wealthy population), both Childs and Bielat agreed that compromise is the best option, even if it means keeping or raising some taxes.
"We have to stop going into our corners and go with a compromise," Childs said. "I would do what’s in the best interest of the country, not party politics."
Steinhof, though, said he would not support extending the tax cuts and stood by his "no tax pledge."
While all three support repealing President Obama's health care plan (also called "Obamacare") Braude asked what the candidates would like to adjust if the whole plan could not be repealed.
If elected, Steinhof said he would like to see the plan broken down to apply "state by state", rather than nation-wide health care option.
Childs, on the other hand, argued that it is the funding mechanism for the plan that needs to be addressed.
"I think the budget for the funding for [the health care plan] is a smoke and mirrors issue," Childs said.
Bielat, who noted that he does not agree with a plan that is a "mandate," said inner-state competition for health care plans will be an important issue if Obamacare is not repealed.
Another key point Bielat stressed was the idea of "giving people and businesses back their money" by cutting taxes and allowing businesses to invest.
"That's how you do stimulus the right way," Bielat said. "Not having it government-directed, but having the people make decisions."
Steinhof agreed, saying that taxes should be cut for small businesses and regulations for those businesses should be reduced.
Coming in from a different angle, Childs underlined her support for simplifying the tax code, closing loopholes and implementing "systemic spending reform on major entitlement programs" such as Social Security and Medicare.
As for their potential opponent, Joe Kennedy III, the three Republicans seemed to brush off the competition.
"He doesn't say anything on his website, he's not out in the public talking about what he believes...until then, we can't really judge if he's qualified," Bielat said.
Steinhof, who noted that he is the only Republican candidate who has lived in the Fourth District his whole life, noted that Kennedy just moved to the district a few months ago.
"He has no private sector experience and he probably hasn't had to pay a single bill in his life," Steinhof said.
"I don’t think he's the most qualified in this race," Childs said. "He has no experience working across the aisle…which is what it’s going to take."
NECN's Broadside with Jim Braude will host a similar debate with the three Democratic candidates -- Kennedy, Herb Robinson and Rachel Brown -- on Thurs., August 16 at 6 p.m.