By Katie Nowak
The two candidates for New York's 20th Congressional District have starkly different opinions on social issues: Murphy favors a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Gibson wants mandatory right-to-life counseling for women considering abortion.
But one thing the two men can agree on is that the government needs to invest in the private sector to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
In separate meetings with The Record's editorial board, both Democratic incumbent Scott Murphy and his Republican challenger Chris Gibson said they want to see local and small businesses grow, though the two disagree on just how to go about that process.
Like many Republicans, Gibson favors cutting taxes and deregulation, and wants to preserve the Bush administration's tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. He also wants to repeal and replace the health care reform bill, a piece of legislation he said was a missed opportunity for true reform crippled by partisan politics and which will seriously hurt small businesses as they deal with skyrocketing premiums and more mandates they can't meet.
"The people who wrote this bill were not ill-intentioned. I think they were ill-advised," he said.
In addition to being a "deficit-buster," Gibson said the bill will "strangle small businesses" and hit all Americans with higher taxes and higher premiums.
He supports a replacement bill which will keep some of the original plan's incentives, like allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26, but will focus on tort reform and driving down premium costs.
But Murphy, who voted for the legislation, defended the bill, saying it would do just that, and in fact gives Americans more control over their health care, taking it away from insurance companies. Acknowledging Gibson's position, Murphy said repealing the plan wouldn't make sense, because that would put power back in the hands of the few to the detriment of the people.
Murphy, who also wants tort reform, said that while the bill wasn't perfect, it was a step in the right direction.
"I don't think we want to go backwards," he said. "Is there more to do? Always. We're going to be making improvements."
As far as how Murphy would grow the private sector, he supports legislation that would raise taxes on businesses that ship jobs overseas, and lower taxes for those who keep jobs on our soil.
In talking with local business owners, he said, they lamented the fact that they're charged a 40 percent tax hurdle for growing their business here, as opposed to no taxes if they grow overseas, and Murphy wants to make it easier for them to operate in America.
Murphy said Gibson supported "bumper sticker politics" in opposing that tax, even though it would help businesses, and therefore the deficit.
But Gibson was steadfast in his belief that taxation is not the answer, especially not when the economy is already hurting.
To curb the deficit, Gibson would cut down on business regulation in order to increase profitability, allowing them to recapitalize and begin hiring, providing people with more disposable income that can then be circulated back into the economy. This would help balance the budget, he said, which is "not only an economic imperative, it's a moral imperative."
"We run the risk of being the first generation to leave our country worse off than we found it," he added.
Gibson would also consolidate many departments within the federal government, including the department of education, which he would roll back into one large department with health and welfare, similar to the structure of government departments in the 1970s.
As for Social Security, the two men agreed that while it is a vital program in danger, it doesn't need immediate attention. Instead, Murphy and Gibson both said that the best way to help the program in the short-term is to grow the private sector, allowing for more people to pay into the program now to preserve the trust for the future.
Both candidates also supported the country's efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying that it was crucial to continue our efforts to help stabilize both countries before we withdraw our troops, ensuring that Afghanistan specifically did not fall back into the hands of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
"People on the right and left want to throw up their hands, but it's an American issue," Gibson said.
"We're moving in the right direction," Murphy said. "We're not ahead of schedule ... but it's better than going back to Civil War."