Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and Republican State Sen. Lee Zeldin Thursday provided a clear contrast in the battle for the 1st Congressional District as they debated issues including Obamacare, the minimum wage and the state of the economy.
In the 30-minute debate, which was taped Thursday and airs at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on News 12 Long Island, Bishop said he supported an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10, from $7.25. He said that would raise wages for 27 million lower-income families and spur the economy, while producing $75 million in savings by reducing the cost of food stamps and other federal safety net programs.
Zeldin, of Shirley, said he supported an increase in the state minimum wage to $9 an hour, from $8. But he said he opposes increases as high as 12 and 15 percent proposed by some Democrats, accusing them of "trying to outdo each other."
Bishop, of Southampton, said he backed the Affordable Care Act, but conceded some aspects need to be fixed.
Zeldin said he wants to repeal the law, although he favors some components, including requirements that insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions and dependent adult children until age 26.
They also differed on immigration.
Bishop backed a bipartisan Senate bill with a path to citizenship, and requirements that those involved pay back taxes and penalties. Zeldin opposed the bill as too broad, saying increased border protection has to come first.
Questioned about the economy, Zeldin said the federal government has to reduce the cost of doing business and cut needless regulation so the private sector can create good-paying jobs.
"People are struggling working one, two three jobs to survive, and the unemployment numbers tell us nothing whatsoever," Zeldin said.
Bishop said the economy has shown significant improvement, saying the nation has regained all the jobs lost in the recession and that the local unemployment rate has fallen below 5 percent. He said more needs to be done, including increased investment in education and the nation's aging infrastructure.
Asked how they differed with their own parties, Zeldin said he opposed state red light and speed camera legislation, which he termed "putting the hand in the pocket" of taxpayers for new revenue.
Bishop said that, unlike many Democrats, he opposes federal funding for charter schools. He also said he opposes a number of trade policies advocated by President Barack Obama.
All News 12 debates can also be seen on Channel 612 and news12.com.