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Perry, Burkholder face off in 4th District debate

Written by Rick Lee/York Daily Record | Oct 14, 2016 9:21 AM
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The general election is Nov. 8. Photo: Courtesy of the York Daily Record.)

(Undated) -- If someone were to run the odds, the line likely would show that U.S. Rep. Scott Perry could have stayed home Thursday evening and watched the final National League Division Series playoff game between the L.A. Dodgers and the Washington Nationals. (The winner faces the Chicago Cubs for the National League Championship.)

Perry, R-York County, is a Republican congressman running for re-election in the Republican stronghold that is the 4th Congressional District in south-central Pennsylvania. The odds of him losing to his Democratic challenger on Nov. 8 -- without some unpredictable turn of events -- range from slim to none.

But Perry stridently disagrees with that scenario.

"The people have a right to hear from the candidate they are voting for," Perry said, following the conclusion of the debate between himself and Democratic candidate Joshua Burkholder on Thursday evening in Adams County.

"This is an important part of the (electoral) process," Perry said. "I believe in the process. If you want to represent the people, you better have the courage of your convictions. And, it's an opportunity to make your case."

And with that attitude, Perry applauded the resolve of his opponent -- both at the opening and the conclusion of the debate -- to unseat him next month.

"Running for office is not easy and I thank you for being engaged," Perry said.

Burkholder, of Dauphin County, got off to an inauspicious start to his first shot at politics and made it to the November ballot via a circuitous route.

Burkholder's attempt to get on the primary ballot ended when his nominating petitions were challenged in February. Needing 1,000 registered Democrats living in the 4th District to sign his petitions, Burkholder filed 1,030 signatures. A challenge to his petitions claimed that 135 signatures were invalid.

Burkholder withdrew his petitions and mounted a write-in campaign that garnered him the Democratic slot on the 4th District general election ballot.

That, coupled with Perry's fervent belief in the "process" resulted in Thursday's debate, the last time the two candidates will face off before the election.

The two candidates differed on issues in typical Republican-Democrat point-counterpoint.

On immigration:

Perry said he is dissatisfied with the current status of immigration because the directors of both Homeland Security and the FBI have said the vetting process in use is "concerning at best."

Burkholder said that more illegal aliens were deported under the Obama administration than the Bush administration and that he was a supporter of the "Dream Act," a plan that would provide a path to permanent resident status to young, undocumented immigrants.

On Social Security:

Burkholder said the cap on taxable income should be lifted, increasing the taxes on the wealthy, which "would extend the life of Social Security for a very long time."

Perry said the $7 trillion trust fund that supports Social Security retirement benefits will be gone "in just under 13 years." He said the answer to that is to get the growth of the economy past the 1 to 2 percent level and into the 4 to 5 percent level.

On reducing the annual federal deficit:

Perry said that the country's "autopilot" funding, budget items that are automatically renewed each year, needs to be changed. He said the U.S. government should have a balanced budget mandate and, again returning to the economy, said an increase to 4 to 5 percent would mean "more folks pulling the train."

Burkholder said taxes should be increased on the wealthy who should be made to "pay their fair share."

On increasing the minimum wage:

Burkholder, paraphrasing FDR, said, "No company should pay their employees less than a livable wage." He said no one can live on $7.25 an hour.

Perry said establishing a nationwide minimum wage "doesn't make sense" because the actual cost of living varies widely across the U.S. Instead, he said, the minimum wage should be a local government decision.

And, finally, in a question from the audience, the candidates were asked who they supported for president:

Perry said he remains "a proud supporter of Donald Trump" because while Trump has no proven record as an officeholder, he believes Hillary Clinton's 30 years in the political arena, and especially as Secretary of State, have been a record of "historic failures." Perry said his decision also was based on his concerns for future Supreme Court appointees, national security and the economy.

"We have a choice between two imperfect people," Perry said. "But we're not electing a pope."

Burkholder said he supported Clinton and that his decision was "on the issues alone." He said Trump's economic plan would add trillions of dollars to the deficit while Clinton's would lower the deficit by billions. Burkholder also said he is concerned about the GOP attitudes toward child care and health care.

Burkholder also cited the First Amendment, stating, "Mr. Trump is saying he would silence certain reporters and that is very dangerous."

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

Published in Adams County, News, York

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