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Altschuler vs. Bishop: House of Representatives Race Heats Up

Posted on 29 October 2010

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More than 150 people crowded into the Southampton Town Community Center in Hampton Bays Thursday night to hear Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler face-off in the first public debate on the South Fork between the two candidates vying for a seat in the United States House of Representatives.

Altschuler declined to attend the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons debate that same evening, citing scheduling conflicts, but eventually committed to the civic association’s debate, although time between the candidates was limited to 25 minutes.

That proved long enough for the debate to become heated, however, particularly when Congressman Bishop turned over the remainder of his closing time to Altschuler, demanding details on how he would cut spending and simultaneously balance a budget with a $1.3 trillion deficit without raising taxes.

“How much out of the military, how much out of Social Security, how much out of Medicare, how much out of Medicaid, how much out of cancer research, how much out of student aid, how much out of benefits?” asked Mr. Bishop. “Bland statements that we need to cut spending that are not accompanied by very specific suggestions as to what we are going to do are meaningless.”

“I think we all know the congressman has no real interest in what spending cuts I would propose,” replied Altschuler, prompting some members of the crowd to boo and others to shout out that they hoped to hear his plans. “What Congressman Bishop will do is put that in his campaign, which has not been on his record, but has been about maligning me.”

Altschuler went on to say that Bishop voted against the 2003 tax cuts, and that his solution to the country’s woes was “bigger government.” He added that the stimulus plan Bishop supported cost the district $3 billion, with the district only getting back $290 million.

While both candidates spent a majority of the debate defending themselves and their professional records, they were also able to touch on specific issues, sometimes finding common ground.

In his opening, Altschuler noted he comes from a “modest background,” the son of a single mother who worked hard to ensure her son’s prosperity.

A graduate of Princeton University, the 39-year-old received his MBA from Harvard Business School before making millions in the private sector.

One of his businesses, Office Tiger, noted Altschuler, has been the subject of scrutiny through the Bishop campaign, which has highlighted the company’s practice of outsourcing jobs to Asia in campaign commercials and advertisements.

Altschuler said the company, which provides clerical services for large corporations, boasted 250 employees in New York and 500 across the country, with additional employees in Europe and Asia as well.

Altschuler sold Office Tiger in 2006 and started Cloud Blue, the electronics recycling company he currently owns.

After living in New Jersey for several years, jumping into politics was a decision Altschuler made three years ago, just as he moved to Long Island from New York City, and became concerned with government spending, he said.

Mr. Bishop, a lifelong resident of Southampton, whose family first settled in the town in the 1600s, said these difficult times will require tough decisions by members of Congress.

“I voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, a source of some consternation to a great number of people who are here,” Mr. Bishop said, adding that not one member of Congress voted for the bill in an effort to help banks. Rather, he said, the bill ultimately protected the worldwide economy.

“I am convinced if we had not passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program, our economy would have tumbled into the second great depression and it would not have been a depression contained to the United States — it would have been a global depression,” said Bishop.

Bishop said he made that vote to protect middle class voters on Long Island, noting that when Lehman Brothers failed, the construction industry on the East End and its overall economy was threatened.

When it comes to cutting government spending, Altschuler said his priority was sending “as few dollars to Washington as possible.”

“We have to go into Washington and look across the board,” he said. “We have to look at earmarks that are given out. A lot of them are airdropped into spending bills that have nothing to do with it.”

He also said that looking at spending within each federal agency, which has seen growth in its ranks while private sector jobs have diminished, should also be a priority.

Bishop countered that the government overspends by $1.3 trillion, and Altschuler has not provided any specifics on how he plans to achieve deficit reduction.

“Cutting out waste, fraud and abuse, cutting out bureaucracy and earmarks is not going to get it done, folks,” he said. “Earmarks are $20 billion a year. By the way, not all earmarks are bad. The Shinnecock Inlet is open as a navigable waterway right now because of an earmark I got, and I didn’t airdrop it in a bill. I did it in the cold light of day.”

Securing millions in financing through the stimulus bill and through earmarks has enabled the inlet to remain open, he said.

“I am proud of it, and I know the commercial fishing industry is very pleased I got it done,” said Bishop.

Bishop also said that “pay as you go,” legislation, which requires Congress to identify where they will acquire funds for any new spending, was now law and a key towards reducing the deficit, along with spending reductions.

He added that kind of budget discipline was used in the 1990s, but was abandoned under the Bush administration.

“The last budget President Clinton left for President Bush was $230 million in surplus,” said Bishop, adding the last budget President Bush left for President Obama was a $1.3 trillion deficit.

“He turned a $5.4 trillion surplus into a $9 trillion deficit,” said Bishop. “That is a $14 trillion swing, and those are the facts.”

“The congressman has twice said we cannot get through this solely through spending reduction,” said Altschuler. “Let me be clear, I interpret that as we need to raise taxes and we absolutely, positively cannot raise taxes.”

“We have an expense problem, not a revenue problem,” he continued, noting the “pay as you go” law was suspended with the passage of a $790 million stimulus bill.

“In all fairness, the deficit has grown under the Obama administration as well,” said Altschuler. “The unemployment numbers were not supposed to rise over eight percent, as we were promised with that stimulus bill. Today it is 9.6 percent … we have to start tightening our belts.”

Bishop supports abolishing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, calling it an “insulting policy” that is “depriving us of real talent in the military.”

Altschuler said he would take his cue on that stance from military leaders, and if they supported the abolition of the law, so would he.

In separate interviews, both candidates also weighed in on the Peconic Estuary, education and how government can help small businesses.

Bishop noted the Peconic Estuary is one of over two dozen estuaries of national significance eligible for funding and one of the first that was earmarked for federal funding.

He promised to ensure that the national estuary program continues to receive funding, and has recently filed legislation to increase the amount of monies those estuaries would be awarded.

“We have an obligation to prioritize our efforts,” said Altschuler. “It is critical to insure that the essential components of our environment are supported, particularly since our environment is a key component of our economic engine on the East End of Long Island.”

As for how Congress can help small businesses, which make up the majority of businesses on the East End, Altschuler advocated for tax cuts.

“We need to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of the year and we need to reduce overall taxes that small businesses and individuals pay,” he said, adding that eliminating government red tape faced by businesses should also be a priority.

“The perfect example is ObamaCare,” he said referring to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, health care reform passed under the Obama administration. “Its costs and the paperwork it will generate will decimate the business community and that is why I will lead the fight to repeal it when elected to Congress.”

As a congressman, Bishop noted he has voted for eight separate tax breaks for small businesses over the course of the last 18 months that are now law, as well as supported incentives like a payroll tax holiday for small businesses who hire someone wbho has been unemployed for over six months.

He has also supported legislation that lowers the tax burden for local businesses by allowing them to write off investments in a shorter period of time, which will hopefully allow businesses the ability to expand.

“The other thing is a $30 billion lending fund, approved in September, that will be administered by community banks to provide funding specifically to small businesses,” said Bishop.

The health care law, he added, provides tax credits up to 30 percent if an employer provides coverage, which he notes is not an obligation for businesses with less than 50 employees. It also allows small businesses to enter into small business insurance exchanges, he added, which gives them the same buying power as larger companies.

“I think we are doing a lot,” said Bishop.

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11 Responses to “Altschuler vs. Bishop: House of Representatives Race Heats Up”

  1. Congressman Bishop of Randy Altshuler? That’s not really the choice. The choice is between middle of the road policies of the Democratic Party and the extremism of the present, repeat present, Republican Party and its leadership. Some say that if the GOP controls the House, we will return to the Bush days. I disagree: we will enter a new era of Tea Party alleged conservatism, which will be devasting, and even more troubling than the policies that Cheney had Bush announce. Sharon Angle of Colorado believes in using your second amendment (gun) rights to right the wrongs that Obama has allegedly brought to us. Randy Altschuler wants to take away health insurance coverage from the 30 million who got it under ObamaCare, and to deprive uninsured (and unemployed) young people from the insurance they now have under their parents policies, and to allow insurers to cancel policies when we get seriously sick, etc., etc. The message is that we need to vote not for the candidate this time, but for the principles we need to govern us at this tough time, and not to have them taken away (again) from us.

  2. The first sentence of my comment should be “Congressman Bishop OR Randy Altsculer.” Sorry for the typo.

  3. And Sharon Angle is from Nevada.

  4. bill baily says:

    We are clearly knee deep in a foul mess but Maybe in this case the evil you know…..

  5. jones says:

    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 a SHORT time, 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 to send jobs to China? WRONG). ————————————————————The WORSE is that Altshculer is a true believer in Paul Ryan’s ideas of GETTING RID of MEDICARE (and all public programs)- and if you don’t believe me listen to his OWN words- go to Youtube and search under; Altschuler medicare. Or go to; outsourcerandy.com —————————————————— Get everyone out to vote, family, friends, neighbors, towns-folk!

  6. Ed Jablonsky says:

    Tim Bishop has done much good for our district. He is a middle of the road, no nonsense legislator who tells it like it is. He gets things done. He has helped our district much more than his republican predecessor ever did.

    Altschuler is a typical republican Tea Party type – an interloper who wants to cut taxes for the rich and screw the middle class. He can’t be serious about deficit reduction if he wants to keep the Bush tax cuts for the super rich. The real after-tax growth for the top 1% has increased over 281% during the last 20 years especially during the Bush years. The real income for the middle class hasn’t increased at all during the Bush years. The Bush tax cuts for the super rich making over 250,000 taxable income should be eliminated. The current republican Tea Party reminds me of the “No Nothing Party” in the mid-1800′s. All they do is spread lies, fear and hate. I fear for America if they take control.

  7. Screw the middle class. How about bringing in $300 million in stimulus money along with $3 billion of debt to be paid by you, your children and your grandchildren.

    Oursourcing? How about bailing out GM with taxpayer money and then have GM turnaround and increse offshore production 50%. When Bishop does outsourcing he does it with your taxpayer money, not his own.

    Yes those awful, awful Bush years. The unemployment rate during eight years of Clinton was 5.21%; unemployment rate during eight years of Bush was 5.27%; unemployment rate during two years of Obama 9.43%. Yup, real progress.

    The failed stimulus plan (I promise unemployment won’t go above 8%), cost more in one year that the Iraq war in total.

    You are absolutely right, we need more of the same. Not.

  8. Levi Johnsen says:

    What a debate! Randy Assshitter doesn’t have the guts to say what programs he would cut. Who could ever vote for a spineless weasel like him?

  9. Joe H. says:

    No one seems to talk of the $160 million Bishop has brought to Long Island Schools recently… Helping to lower our property taxes and keep good teachers teaching.

    Get out and vote tomorrow. Vote for Bishop. Altschuler cannot win this race.

  10. Kurt Waldheim says:

    Good riddance to Bishop! Looks like Randy Altshuler won the seat. Ok so Bishop did some good. He’s still a democrat who raised taxes. Who needs him? Felix Grucci was better, as was Forbes. Hopefully it stays GOP.


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