2nd District Congressional Forum

by | Oct 5, 2012 | Featured

Thursday, Oct. 25, 7 pm
Represenative Scott Rigell and challenger Paul Hirschbiel will participate in a forum at the Sandler Family Campus, to which the community is invited and encouraged to attend.
Jewish News presented the candidates with the following questions:

Paul Hirschbiel
Our Jewish community is a vibrant and vital part of Hampton Roads. As someone who married into a Jewish family and has considered himself part of the Jewish community for nearly 30 years, I profoundly understand the proud history and important challenges we face. If you elect me to Congress, you can count on me to always be a stalwart supporter of Israel and our Jewish community.

What are the three major foreign policy issues that you would like to focus on in congress in the coming year?
The top concern for all Americans in regard to foreign policy must be the potential of a nuclear Iran. We must stand strong with Israel to make sure that this can never happen. Second, we must work with our allies to quell the current unrest across the Middle East resulting from the Arab Spring. The destabilization in the Middle East represents a very large threat to the security of Israel. We must secure our embassies and work to make sure that those countries continue on paths to democracy by holding free, fair, and non-violent elections. Finally, we must bring to a safe and successful conclusion our mission in Afghanistan. It is time we put our resources and efforts into rebuilding our nation at home.

If you see Medicare in need of reform, what would be the top two issues you would focus on?
Medicare is a critical program that has helped millions of seniors have the dignified and quality life that they have earned and deserve. I will always fight to protect and strengthen this program, and you can be sure that I will never support efforts to privatize Medicare. To help strengthen Medicare, we should negotiate prescription drug prices, saving over $200 billion in a ten year period. We also need to cut down on the waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare which can save as much as $80 billion per year.

What is your position on eliminating or lowering the tax deduction for charitable contributions?
I am not in favor of eliminating the tax dedication for charitable contributions. Having spent the last 15 years with my wife Susan working in and with multiple charitable organizations, I truly understand the important work that our charities do in Hampton Roads and I would not support anything that would limit their ability to fund so many vital programs. It has been our strong network of charitable organization that has stepped forward in so many areas where we have experienced significant cutbacks at both the Federal and State level in funding for critical services locally.

What should be the U.S. response above and beyond what is being done now to curb Iran’s support of terrorism and its march toward nuclear arms?
First, I want to unequivocally say that Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. I support even tougher sanctions that severely limit Iran’s ability to access overseas bank accounts and would support harsh sanctions on any company doing business with Iran. For this to be most effective, we must press other world leaders to apply the same tough sanctions and to not allow their friends and allies to work with Iran in any way.

What two strategies would you suggest to strengthen and grow the U.S.–Israel relationship?
If I have the privilege of representing Hampton Roads in Congress, I will work tirelessly to protect and defend our nation’s unique and vital relationship with Israel. Serving as the best example of democracy in the Middle East, we must ensure that Israel has the strategic and diplomatic resources needed to protect itself. Our two country’s military and economic interdependence is critical to everyone’s safety in the Middle East. It should be well understood that any threat to Israel is a threat to the United States. It is without question that our strongest ally and friend is the state of Israel, and if elected I’ll work to ensure that we continue to strengthen that partnership so that Israel is a safe, vibrant community in which to raise a family. We can continue to strengthen our partnership by supporting the President’s $30 billion ten-year aid package, under no circumstances allowing Iran to acquire or sell a nuclear weapon, and stopping the growth and influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Scott Rigell
I’m humbled by the confidence you’ve placed in me to serve you and your family in this very challenging time in our American journey. It’s a tough economy; it’s hard to find a good job. Our country’s financial situation threatens every American’s future, regardless of political affiliation, gender, age, or race. Folks are frustrated and rightfully so, with both parties. This truly is a defining moment for our country. We must, and we will, find common ground. That’s the very reason I sought this office: to lead from the front this fight for a brighter future for every American—every child, every senior, from every walk of life. I respectfully ask for your vote on November 6th, and if given the privilege to serve again, I’ll never forget that I work for you.

If you see Medicare in need of reform, what would be the top two issues you would focus on?
For too long, Medicare has been used as a pawn in political debates while this vitally important program, which our seniors have earned, heads toward bankruptcy. Our first priority must be protecting Medicare for current seniors —those 55 and older. It is critical to understand that the plan I support makes NO CHANGES to Medicare for those 55 and older. We must also, with a laser-like focus, reduce the waste, fraud, and abuse which we know exists in the current system.

Americans are ready for the truth, they are ready for solutions, and they are ready for leadership. The truth about Medicare is undeniable: according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund—the fund that pays the Medicare bills—projected to become exhausted in 2022. We can debate about what should be done to fix this, but there is no debate over what lies ahead if nothing is done. If we don’t address this now, Medicare really will end. If anyone tells you differently they are not facing reality.

I will not let this happen. I am committed to strengthening and preserving Medicare for current and future generations. This includes legislation ensuring that no changes in Medicare will occur for anyone 55 and older while implementing market-based reforms that provide more choice for America’s future seniors. I also support compassionate reform that takes into account a patient’s financial health as well as his or her physical health by lending extra support to those who need it most.

What should be the U.S. response above and beyond what is being done now to curb Iran’s support of terrorism and its march toward nuclear arms? Unequivocally, Iran is a direct threat to its neighbors, Israel, and the rest of the world, and it must not obtain a nuclear weapon. I am pleased that Congress passed H.R. 1905, with my support, the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011. This legislation tightened sanctions against Iran and authorized the administration to sanction the Central Bank of Iran. Nevertheless, all options must be left on the table as we combat the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, encourage the democratic movements existing in Iran, and support our friend and ally, Israel.

What two strategies would you suggest to strengthen and grow the U.S.–Israel relationship?
First and foremost, we must stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as we work to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Israel remains the only true democracy in the Middle East, and as a nation, we must boldly support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, its claim to its current geographic boundaries, and its right to defend itself against the unrelenting threat posed by neighboring hostile regimes. This leadership must come from the White House and from Congress.

Second, the bond between America and Israel must be strengthened, and I believe one way to ensure this is for more Members of Congress to visit Israel and see firsthand the security challenges that she faces.

My family and I took a personal visit to Israel, including stops in the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. Our experience was moving and enlightening. One leaves Israel with a deeper understanding of the profound challenges facing that small but powerful nation. And one cannot help but admire the bravery of the Israeli people, their country, and their economy. Such visits lead to deeper mutual respect, trust, and friendship between our two nations. In turn, we develop stronger economic ties, opportunities, and trade. This is how we strengthen our overall relationship.