Moderator Richard French, president of Regional News Network, steered questions from three journalists. Spencer Rumsey, senior editor at Long Island Press, asked the two if the federal tax code was too generous to the wealthy.
Altschuler replied that "the general tax code is a mess in general. At the end of the day, we're all better off with less taxes." He pledged to reduce taxes for the middle class, including extending former President George W. Bush's tax cuts.
Bishop retorted that, despite numerous tax cuts passed in the early 2000s, in 2008 the country experienced "the worst economic collapse that we have seen since the Great Depression." Bishop said the tax code needs to not only be "fair" and "progressive" but also charge greater levies on high earners.
Other topics such as undocumented workers came up, when Long Island Business News reporter John Callegari asked the candidates about their stance on immigration. Bishop said the system needs "comprehensive reform" including "stiffer border protection" and better visa procedures, but also a way for immigrants to earn legalization. Altschuler criticized Bishop's voting record on Homeland Security bills as proof of his lack of commitment to immigration reform.
"Our obligation is to get out," Bishop said. "We accomplished what we went to Afghanistan to do."
In closing, Bishop touted his record in Congress as one of compromise and bipartisanship. "I am very, very proud of my service. I am not a bomb thrower," he said. "I am a team player."
Altschuler said it was Bishop's very tenure that cried out for change.
"If we want to change Congress, if we want to ensure my generation passes this country on to the next generation in better shape than we found it, it doesn't make sense to me, sending people back to Washington who made the mess in the first place," he said.