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LVEDC Hosts Congressional Forum for Candidates for Pennsylvania’s 7th District

By Colin McEvoy on October 22, 2018

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham hosts a congressional forum featuring candidates (left to right) Susan Wild (Democrat), Tim Silfies (Libertarian), and Marty Nothstein (Republican).

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham hosts a congressional forum featuring candidates (left to right) Susan Wild (Democrat), Tim Silfies (Libertarian), and Marty Nothstein (Republican).

With the election to decide who will represent the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania’s new 7th district just a few weeks away, each of the three candidates gathered at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown to discuss economic development and other related topics.

Marty Nothstein (Republican), Tim Silfies (Libertarian), and Susan Wild (Democrat) participated in a question-and-answer session on Oct. 18, organized by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation and moderated by LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham.

Before a crowd of more than 120 people, the three candidates discussed such topics as federal tax cuts, infrastructure spending, foreign direct investment, incentive programs, workforce development, and immigration policy.

“I’m glad that all three candidates were very well prepared and articulate, putting so much thought into these issues,” Cunningham said at the end of the event. “It’s very encouraging to see this quality level of forum and discussion around issues that matter so much to the Lehigh Valley economy.”

The entire debate was filmed and streamed by the Pennsylvania Cable Network, and the full hour-long video can be found on the PCN website.

Cunningham asked each of the candidates their thoughts on past federal program, like President Obama’s stimulus spending plan, or President Trump’s federal tax cuts.

Nothstein said the tax cuts “are working” and have spurred economic growth, citing the Lehigh Valley’s record-high $40.1 billion gross domestic product.

Wild said she believes rather than looking back on programs like the stimulus package, the focus should be on programs like job training and improving infrastructure.

Silfies said it is important to keep taxes low, but also that spending be kept under control. He noted the U.S. will pay about $400 billion on debt interest alone.

“Both sides have continued this irresponsible spending in the face of calamity,” Silfies said. “We need to get it under control, which is going require an adult conversation about ways to do that.”

Nothstein said it is appropriate for the federal government to be involved in infrastructure spending, but that regulations need to be rolled back, and he praised the Trump administration for moving in that direction.

“We need to make it much easier for small businesses to compete and expand,” he said. “We need to not place burdensome regulations on them, and let them take care of the customers rather than doing paperwork with regulations.”

Silfies particularly praised Trump’s executive order requiring that for every one new regulation, two must be revoked. Silfies said he feels infrastructure spending would be better decided locally than at a federal level.

Wild agreed that small businesses should not be prohibited by too much red tape, but said a committee should be formed to look at each regulation one-by-one and decide which need to be repealed, rewritten, or retained.

Cunningham also asked for thoughts about trade deals, tariffs, and foreign direct investment, noting that international investment has become increasingly important for the Lehigh Valley economy.

Nothstein said America must ensure it gets a fair deal when entering into trade deals with other countries. Regarding Trump’s tariffs against China, he feels citizens are willing to endure “short-term pain for “long-term gain.”

Silfies said trade wars are a terrible idea, and everyone involved in them loses. He stressed the need for free trade, and said the tariffs imposed by Trump are just another word for taxes.

Wild emphasized the importance of a level playing field for the U.S. when it comes to trade, as well as the need to protect workers and ensure American manufacturers are able to increase their exports.

“With tariffs, I’m not opposed to the concept, and I understand the need to go after bad actors, but I feel the Trump administration’s strategy was not well thought out,” she said. “We can’t make enemies of our allies. We really have to have smart strategic trade policies that have a long-term plan.”

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