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4th CD: Candidates spar on fiscal policy issues

The candidates to succeed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy in Nassau’s 4th Congressional District on Monday highlighted their differing fiscal policies, with Democrat Kathleen Rice calling for “aggressive” investments in public education and Republican Bruce Blakeman reiterating his calls to simplify tax codes and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Rice, the Nassau district attorney, made her calls for education funding at a news conference in Garden City, while Blakeman, the former Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature, outlined his points in a news release that primarily criticized Rice for highlighting progress in the recent federal jobs report.

“The voters in our district have a clear choice in this election,” Rice said. “Do they want their next representative to cut taxes for the wealthiest and cut education funding for the neediest? Or do they want a representative who is committed to building the world-class public education system that all of our children need and deserve.”

Rice was referring to her support for restoring federal dollars to public education, which has suffered under government sequestration in recent years. She countered her stance with that of House Republican leadership, which submitted a budget proposal with numerous cuts aimed at bringing federal spending into balance by cutting $5 trillion over 10 years.

On his website, Blakeman has expressed support for the Republican budget’s goal of cutting $5 trillion in federal spending, but did not specifically note education funding.

“We need to have discipline when it comes to spending,” Blakeman said on his site. “This can only be accomplished by prioritizing government programs and spending based upon what is critical and necessary as opposed to superfluous programs engendered to buy votes.”

Meanwhile, Blakeman’s campaign put out a release Monday that highlighted Rice’s optimistic take on the jobs report released Friday, which showed that U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs in September, helping drop the national unemployment rate to 5.9 percent.

Blakeman, however, noted a national poll last month that showed 56 percent of Americans still say they are “falling behind” financially. He also pointed out that the total of unemployed workers coupled with those “marginally attached” or “employed part-time for economic reasons” is 11.8 percent, a figure that some economists say is a truer indicator of the national jobs picture.

“I have a message for my opponent: flat wages, higher prices and too many part-time jobs are not ‘good news,’” Blakeman said in a statement.

Blakeman went on to lay out his economic platform again, including reforming the tax code to make it “flatter, fairer and simpler,” and repealing the Affordable Care Act “with commonsense proposals that lower costs, improves health care quality and increases accessibility.”

Rice has said that she supports improving aspects of the Affordable Care Act, but not a repeal. She has also proposed extending tax credits for family expenses such as child care and tuition.

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