The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 18, 2008

Debate draws out candidates’ similarities

SELINSGROVE — Touting their conservative views, the two Republican candidates for the 10th Congressional District squared off Monday night in a debate at Susquehanna University that highlighted their similarities.

Chris Hackett, 44, and Dan Meuser, 43, both Luzerne County businessmen, favor lower taxes and reduced government spending, staying in Iraq while a terror threat persists and tightening the borders against illegal immigration.

Each is seeking the Republican nomination April 22 and a chance to challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Chris Carney, D-10 of Dimock, in November.

Hackett took shots at Carney during the debate for approving a $683 billion tax increase and $18 million in pork barrel spending in the past year.

“What did he trade to get $18 million in earmarks? The earmarking system, and the corruption it breeds, is the biggest problem,” he said. “It’s a Democratic and Republican problem. We need to be the party of fiscal conservatism.”

Meuser said the current financial crisis in the U.S. demonstrates the need to create a more competitive business environment through lower taxes, fewer regulations and reduced spending.

He proposes tax cuts of one-half percent “across the board except in the military and Social Security” and reducing spending through attrition of federal employees.

Illegal immigration “threatens” U.S. businesses, Meuser said, and existing laws need to be enforced to combat it.

The question on illegal immigration gave him a chance to respond to reports that he was fined 13 years ago for “unknowingly” employing three illegal workers.

Since then, his company has hired about 10,000 workers and enhanced its employee screening process at a cost many small business owners couldn’t afford.

Hackett proposed addressing the issue by requiring proof of citizenship, creating a process for dealing with expired visa holders and giving employers a specific amount of time to get illegal immigrants out of the workforce.

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