If there is one thing the candidates battling for the new 23rd U.S. Congres-sional District seat agree on, it is working to attack the national debt.
Congressional candidates U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and Nate Shinagawa each spoke of their plans to work toward a future with a balanced federal budget and a strong economy that creates American jobs in a debate Monday.
"When it comes to balanced budgets, that is something we have to do at the local level. We aren't like the federal government, where we get the ability to do deficit spending," Shinagawa, a Democratic Tompkins County legislator, said.
Shinagawa outlined a four-point approach to balancing the budget, drawing upon his experience as one of eight senior administrators at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa., where he works on budgets and reducing costs in his department.
The four points include looking at military spending, Medicare and Social Security costs and raising revenues. Shinagawa proposed pulling troops out of Afghanistan, reducing bases overseas and auditing the Pentagon.
"Just like we ask for accountability with Medicare and Medicaid spending, I think there should be accountability with military spending as well," Shinagawa said.
Additionally, Shinagawa proposed additional reforms to the health care delivery system, rather than the currently-proposed insurance reforms, as well as a graduated cap for the Social Security system.
He proposed adding revenues by repealing tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year, and using the money to invest in education and infrastructure, as well as reducing the debt and deficit.
"If you don't deal with these four areas, then you're not being serious," Shinagawa said.
On the other hand, Reed, a Republican, chose to focus on growing jobs, which he called the number one issue right now.
"We share some common ground here, Nate, which I appreciate. On the expenditure side, we definitely have to look at all lines," the incumbent said.
Reed said he has spoken to people in Washington who have already had experience, in order to see what has and has not worked in the past. He agreed with Shinagawa that the military needs to be held accountable for its spending, and an audit needs to be done on the Pentagon.
One of the things Reed said he learned from his discussions was that the revenues found cannot be invested or spent on other projects. He said things need to be downsized in order to cut the deficit.
"This is a spending-driven problem. It is the overall size of government issue. We need to downsize the federal government," Reed said.
Additionally, Reed proposed focusing on growing jobs throughout the U.S. in order to create revenues.
"If you get people working again, across America, and we get this economy humming, we have that manufacturing industrial renaissance here in Western New York," Reed said. "If we get people engaged and working and back to work, that means there is going to be more revenue, and that will go by far, much further than raising tax rates."
He proposed looking at the tax code in order to look for bipartisan, common ground in solving the debt and deficit issues.
"If you even consider revenue, that revenue has to go to pay the debt," Reed said. "What my opponent wants to do is use that money and increase spending in other areas."