It was a rush to the middle at Thursday’s Bucks County Community College debate in Bristol as Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and Democratic opponent Scott Wallace faced off for the last time.
Moderator Bill Pezza lead the debate, and most questions in the first half focused on tax reform and the recent economic figures of multi-decade low unemployment and slightly higher hourly wages.
This article focuses on the main differences in economic policy between the two candidates, as more time was spent on this issue than any other.
Other debate topics included healthcare, climate change, civility in politics, cyber security, and foreign policy. A recap of these other issues will be available soon.
The full debate is available on WBCBNews.com.
On Tax Reform:
Wallace claims the tax cuts did not close loopholes for millionaires like himself, and sees his campaign as taking on a noble endeavor.
“Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but this tax bill gave me a couple million dollars that I didn’t need and don’t want,” Wallace said. “I’m putting that money into this campaign, by the way, because it’s a public service to reclaim our government for the sake of the people.”
But Fitzpatrick didn’t believe him, and called on Wallace again to release his tax returns, as he sees it vital to putting the debate on who benefits from the new tax code to rest.
“We can get the answer to the question very easily. I live in a one bedroom condo in the same township I grew up in, he’s got properties all over the world,” Fitzpatrick said. “We both give our tax returns. We have accountants apply the old tax code to those tax returns and then the new tax code, and you will have your answer.”
On Economic Growth:
Fitzpatrick praised the tax cuts for invigorating the economy, citing the recent economic jump from 1.5% GDP growth in 2016 to 2.3% in 2017, and 4.2% in the second quarter of 2018. New economic data released Friday shows a growth rate of 3.5% for the third quarter.
“It is leading to economic growth, the proof is in the economy,” Fitzpatrick said. “I tell everybody this, we don’t need to hypothesize when it comes to tax reform. The economy is going to tell us one way or another, was it good or was it bad, and let’s watch how the economy reacts and adjust accordingly.”
But Wallace wasn’t convinced, and credits former President Barack Obama for the economic upturn. The statement echoes the same message offered by the former president in recent campaign appearances.
“It’s been quite a rise since the year President Barack Obama started the stimulus package,” Wallace said. “The line has been straight up since then. There will be a correction, I wouldn’t get too over confident about it.”
Consulting the Experts On Economic Growth:
Wallace also pulled out numbers of his own, citing a recent study forecasting 1.8% growth in his criticism of the economy, slightly lower than a 1.9% growth number used in a projection of the national deficit.
“[Fitzpatrick] is now saying ‘Well maybe we can keep up this level that we had last quarter of 4.2%'”, Wallace said. “No, that is not sustainable. The Wall Street Journal, a couple of days ago, did a survey of 60 leading economists in America. Their consensus was growth will be somewhat less than the Congressional Budget Office estimated.”
But Fitzpatrick countered, claiming Wallace was cherry picking his information to purposefully make things sound worse than they actually are.
“I disagree Scott. Nobody thinks we can continue a 4.2% growth in GDP, but if we can stay above 3%, that’s what we have to do,” Fitzpatrick said. “I don’t believe in this doom and gloom mentality. And you’re picking one study? Have you seen the other 15 or 20 including The Economist that projects over 3%?”