Roscoe G. Bartlett, the Republican incumbent, and Democratic nominee John Delaney were joined by Libertarian candidate Nickolaus Mueller at a candidate forum sponsored by The Herald-Mail Co.
Moderator Raychel Harvey-Jones, the news director of HMTV6, asked each candidate several preselected questions, plus a few from the audience of about 130 people at Hagerstown Community College’s Kepler Theater.
Candidates mostly steered clear of direct criticisms of each other as they shared their views and platforms.
On some issues, they agreed.
Each listed the economy or jobs as the top issue facing the 6th District.
Bartlett, seeking an 11th two-year term, said Congress should reduce the corporate tax rate and kill onerous regulations that interfere with business growth.
Delaney also proposed lowering the corporate tax to make the United States more competitive.
He said he’d also support cutting deductions and raising the capital gains tax. Fiscal stability will help free up trillions of dollars in money that could be used for financing, he said.
Responding to a question on tax structure, Bartlett said he supports a flat tax on consumption.
Mueller said he’d prefer a flat tax, with no deductions.
Delaney spoke in favor of the Simpson-Bowles committee recommendations on spending and simplified taxation.
As an entrepreneur who started two businesses that went public, Delaney said he’s well suited to help create new jobs for the district. He proposed a series of job summits.
Mueller replied that government isn’t the answer — rather, it’s an obstacle. If government would “start stepping out of the way,” business people would stimulate the economy on their own, he said.
He called for abolition of the federal departments of education, commerce and energy.
Bartlett and Delaney also overlapped some on the topic of immigration reform.
Bartlett said the country needs to tighten its borders and should use the E-Verify system to prevent illegal immigrants from taking American jobs.
Delaney agreed that a closed border is vital for national security, but also talked about making sure immigrants have a viable path toward citizenship. He said many Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants.
Mueller diverged, calling for government to stop deciding who can enter the country. He noted that the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks came to the U.S. legally.
Asked about the structure of Medicare, Bartlett and Mueller said they’d support a voucher system.
Bartlett praised the health savings account as a way to reduce administrative costs and prompt people to start asking about the costs of their health care.
Delaney balked, calling vouchers a “risk transfer.” Instead, the government should negotiate better prices and weed out waste and fraud, he said.
On abortion, Delaney and Mueller said they’re pro choice. Making abortion illegal would have “unintended consequences,” Mueller added.
Bartlett said he is unwavering in his support for life, with exceptions for the life of the mother, rape or incest.
The forum will be broadcast on HMTV6 from the week of Oct. 22 through the election, which is Nov. 6.