Local Media Heads question candidates at Del Capri
by Devin Crum -
In a debate between candidates competing for Dutch Ruppersberger's Second District seat in the United States House of Representatives on Thursday, March 15, at the Del Capri in Dundalk, its not surprising that comments centered on some of the biggest issues facing our nation today. Issues like government spending, energy concerns, illegal immigration, economic stimulation and healthcare were at the forefront of questions asked by well-known members of the local media in eastern Baltimore County.
Editor of The Dundalk Eagle Steve Matrazzo, Columnist for The Avenue News Anna Renault, Editor of the Essex-Middle River Patch Ron Snyder and East County Times Publisher George Wilbanks fired tough questions at each of the candidates, allowing the public to better determine which, if any, would be best suited to replace Ruppersberger. Candidates Rick Impallaria, Nancy Jacobs, Larry Smith, Howard Orton and Raymond Bly gave their best responses to each issue presented; however, the first three delivered notably strong performances.
Jacobs was the first to respond to a question regarding pork barreling in Washington, D.C. when she labeled the trend as a big part of what is wrong in the capitol, noting that she hasnt put in any bond bills as a Harford and Cecil County delegate in Annapolis for that reason. When times are tough I dont think we should do that, she said. Smith quickly rebutted her remarks, pointing out that she had pushed for a bond earmark to pay for a giraffe house at a Cecil County zoo. Jacobs explained her actions in that she wanted to maintain an educational resource for Cecil County school children who visited the zoo.
The question of what should be Americas top target to meet its energy needs showed Smith had done his homework. While candidates Orton and Jacobs gave the tried and true rhetoric about taking advantage of our domestic energy sources of natural gas and coal, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline, Smith offered further development of something we have but dont widely discuss - nuclear energy. Smith advocated making use of nuclear energy in this country and educating the public on it to help wean ourselves off fossil fuels. We need leadership on the fact that nuclear waste is not as dangerous as we think it is - nuclear is not a four-letter word, he explained. Don't build it on the San Andreas Fault, but for Gods sake build it. Smith acknowledged that wind and solar energy may be the future, but those things are way down the road. Making laws to force development of these expensive technologies now is simply legislating inefficiencies into our economy, he declared.
While all the candidates agreed that Obamacare must go, only Raymond Bly supported a nationalized healthcare system, citing his wife's native Vietnam where this has occurred. Smith and Jacobs focused their plans on allowing interstate competition for healthcare. We need to be able to carry it across borders, Jacobs claimed, because competition improves quality, promotes innovation and reduces the cost. Smith envisioned an online exchange system for consumer-based selection of healthcare. In essence, consumers would pick and choose the options they need from a large pool of providers. I look forward to going into conference with Democrats and having the adult conversation on healthcare that President Obama didnt allow us to have, Smith commented.
In dealing with illegal immigration, there was consensus that it should be made more difficult for businesses and illegals to take advantage of the system - fines should be high enough to discourage businesses from pursuing undocumented workers and immigrants should be encouraged to take the legal route to citizenship. However, Smith touted himself as the only candidate with a comprehensive plan for ending illegal immigration. His plan consists of deporting any illegal person without employee sponsorship and having them pay down a $5,000 fine for working here while having taxed wages. They need to contribute to the safety net they are drawing from, Smith commented. Jacobs believes Maryland should stop their lax policies toward illegal immigrants and step up screening through E-Verify to prevent criminals from entering our neighborhoods. She also supports any immigrants learning and speaking English as a way to properly function in American society.
Comments on how to stimulate the economy mainly pointed to eliminating overregulation of business by the government to allow businesses to grow and invest in themselves. Orton favored lowering the corporate tax rate as well. Smith said the governments overregulation and inefficient energy policy are holding back business growth. He proposed specifics like dredging ports to accommodate supertankers and supporting the energy infrastructure to take advantage of what we have and inspire confidence in the market. Jacobs favors deregulation of business to let businesses do what they do and grow jobs. She said government needs to get out of the way and stop looking at business as a cash cow.
Although Rick Impallaria arrived late from a mandatory vote in Annapolis, he came on strong at the end. He touted his experience in challenging Dutch Ruppersberger, citing the Baltimore County issue in 2000 of trying to take private property from residents for development. Its not just what we do when we get to D.C., its what weve done until now, Impallaria declared. I didnt make bad votes before I made good ones. His statement could have also been a shot at Del. Jacobs for having first voted for the Dream Act in Annapolis, then voting against it, in what she called an honest mistake. In closing, Impallaria stood firm that he is not willing to compromise with liberals like Ruppersberger anymore.
Orton said he would like to repeal Obamacare and get the nations budget under control through cutting waste. Jacobs wrapped up by stating her goals to repeal Obamacare, fight what is going on in D.C., reform entitlements and institute a balanced-budget amendment for the federal budget. Bly, who threw his weight behind Smith at the end, said he was simply tired of government interfering in his life and the lives of citizens. Smith explained our children's future is in jeopardy. People are afraid and anxious and they need leadership with a plan that can be explained to the constituents. We need to stand up for our future and stay strong for our citizens, he said.