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Oct 26, 2010 5:43 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Congressional Debate Centers On Spending, Economy

Oct 26, 2010 5:43 PM

HAMPTON BAYS—U.S. Representative Tim Bishop and his challenger, Randy Altschuler, offered sharply divergent views on how to fix the economy in a heated—and hasty—debate hosted by the Hampton Bays Civic Association last Thursday, October 21.

The debate, which lasted only about 30 minutes because both candidates had other events to attend, drew more than 100 people to the Southampton Town Community Center on Ponquogue Avenue, and was a fervid contrast to the more subdued State Senate and State Assembly debates that followed.

Mr. Bishop, a Democrat from Southampton, spent much of his opening statement defending his 2008 vote in support of the controversial Troubled Asset Relief Program, a $700 billion bailout of financial, insurance and auto industries that was intended to prevent the economy from collapsing. He said he knew it was a “source of some consternation” for his constituents.

“I am convinced that had we not voted to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program, our country would have tumbled into the second Great Depression, and it wouldn’t have just been a depression that was contained in the United States,” said Mr. Bishop, who is running for his fifth two-year term. “It would have been a global depression.”

Mr. Bishop also defended the $787 stimulus bill that Congress passed in early 2009, which was intended to help jump-start the economy, saying it brought money and jobs to the 1st Congressional District, which spans most of Suffolk County including the East End.

Mr. Altschuler, a Republican from St. James and a wealthy business owner, said government spending is not the way to assuage the lingering effects of the economic crisis, like high unemployment. He said the federal government should cut back spending and lower taxes, as well as peel back regulations on businesses.

“The congressman thinks the solution to a lot of our problems are bigger government,” said Mr. Altschuler, a first-time candidate. “When he talks about the money that was brought back from the stimulus bill—our share of that stimulus bill, our burden here in this district, is $3 billion. We got $294 million back from the stimulus bill. That is not a fair trade.”

The debate reached a fever pitch after Mr. Bishop, in his closing remarks, pressed Mr. Altschuler to outline specific spending cuts he has in mind if elected to Washington, D.C.

“I think we all know that the congressman has no real deep interest in hearing what spending cuts I propose,” Mr. Altschuler replied—a comment that prompted jeers and laughter from some audience members. “What Congressman Bishop will do with that is put it in his campaign, as he done with everything, and he’s run a completely negative campaign.”

The candidates also diverged on the issue of the mounting federal deficit after it was brought up by a member of the audience. Both agreed that it was an urgent issue, but Mr. Bishop indicated that tax hikes of some kind would be necessary to help get the deficit under control—an idea that Mr. Altschuler scoffed at.

“We need to cut spending, but we need to do it in a way that is fair and prudent,” Mr. Bishop said. “And we also have to recognize—and this is going to be very unpopular—that anyone who thinks we can balance the federal budget exclusively by cutting expenses is either being delusional or dishonest. That’s the cold hard truth, folks.”

Mr. Altschuler replied that Congress “absolutely positively cannot raise taxes and I would never vote for it.”

“If we’re going to solve the problem going forward, we have to banish the thought of more taxes and more burdens on Americans and instead start tightening our belts and make some cutting,” he said.

The candidates also covered a handful of minor issues, which were brought up in questions prepared by the civic association and members of the audience. Both Mr. Bishop and Mr. Altschuler said they would consider “unwinding” the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in response to the fiscal meltdown of 2008. Mr. Bishop said he would not support a bill declaring English the national language, while Mr. Altschuler said he would.

When asked by an audience member about the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Mr. Bishop called it an “insulting” practice and said he supported its repeal. Mr. Altschuler said he would support its repeal if military leaders advised it.

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Bishop has created tons of jobs at Brookhaven Lab, the dredging of the Shinnecock Canal (which helps all of Long Island with PRIVATE sector jobs and revenue) and Bishop got the most education aid in all of NY to save local tax dollars.-----------------------Randy has only lived on Long Island for TWO years, he is a NJ native. He is a multi-millionaire who made his money by Outsourcing thousands of American jobs to INDIA with his company- Office Tiger! (and his new fliers lie and say that Tim wants ...more
By SunriseHwy (14), Mattituck on Oct 27, 10 7:50 PM
Tim absolutely cleaned Randy's clock at this debate. The audience reaction, when Randy weaseled out on giving specifics about how he'd cut spending, tells it all. Tim will win, but only if all his friends get out and vote on November 2.
By Turkey Bridge (1762), Quiogue on Oct 28, 10 11:06 PM
who has time for this bs format
By joe hampton (2932), south hampton on Oct 31, 10 10:08 AM
Philathome, what ever happened to the free flowing discourse of idea's and honest debate that America was built on.
By montaukman (98), easthampton on Oct 31, 10 5:36 PM
Timmy is very vulnerable because he has run a terrible campaign. He needed to run a negative campaign because he has done very few positive things since he has been in office

1. In his 8 years of office he has voted with pelosi over 97% of the time.
2. He has never created a private sector job.
3. He helped to drive Southampton college into the ground.
4. he flipped and voted for the Senate Health Bill after admitting it would cost NY too much. (he was right have you seen ...more
By razza5350 (1860), East Hampton on Nov 1, 10 3:36 PM
1. Pelosi has only been speaker for LESS than 3 years. So much for the other 5 Tim was in Congress, eh?
2. It would seem Brookhaven Lab does not exist in your reality.
3. The "administration", who bilked the University with their 500k plus pay packages had more to do with the fiscal defecit than Tim. You may also want to look into what renovations to the college cost.
4. 90% of Congress voted in favor of that Bill. We needed to start somewhere.
5. Tim DID return Rangel's ...more
By Mr. Z (9529), North Sea on Nov 1, 10 7:46 PM
I suppose the next thing he'll blame Bishop for is the lack of affordable housing.

There were ALOT of people with their hands in the cookie jar at SH College.

When it comes to the college, well over 20 million of that "defecit" went to executive salaries in excess of 500k to the "administrators" who were ABOVE Tim's provost position.

Give us a break, already...
Nov 1, 10 7:24 PM appended by Mr. Z
Presently, Samuel Stanley takes home almost 700k. Nice check, if you can get it. You really need to look at the ENTIRE gamut of reckless spending when it comes to LIU.
By Mr. Z (9529), North Sea on Nov 1, 10 7:24 PM
12 more hours to a better world
By They call me (2174), southampton on Nov 1, 10 8:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
How about a referendum on Bishops policy. He has been in office for 8 years and has been a cancer that needs to be removed
By razza5350 (1860), East Hampton on Nov 2, 10 12:29 PM
National Debt increase by POTUS in constant dollars:

Under Carter: 42%
Under Reagan: 189%
Bush Act 1: 55.6%
Clinton: 36%
Bush Act 2: 89%

Numbers tend not to lie, especially when accurate. Republicans talk a good game, but all they have is TALK.

I hope we don't get fooled again...
By Mr. Z (9529), North Sea on Nov 2, 10 9:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
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