As a service to its readers, New Jersey Jewish News in cooperation with the Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ and the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey extended invitations to major party candidates to contribute to a 2010 Voters’ Guide.
Each candidate was asked to address the same questions on issues of concern to the Jewish community.
Running for District 7
Rep. Leonard Lance (R) did not respond to NJJN’s request.
Ed Potosnak (D) is a science teacher and small-business owner who lives in North Plainfield.
What is your position on ensuring the realization of peace between the Palestinians and Israelis? What efforts would you employ to encourage both or either side to remain at the negotiating table? What role do you see Congress playing to combat the well-financed and widespread campaign to delegitimize Israel?
Potosnak: I unequivocally support Israel’s right to exist a sovereign state. I vigorously oppose any attempt to endanger Israel’s existence. Israel has always been willing to take the risks for peace. However they are most willing to do so when confident in the backing of the United States. Israel, time and time again, has put forward initiatives only to have them soundly rejected. The Palestinians must demonstrate that they are serious about peace. Palestinian groups, including Hamas, must renounce terrorism and violence, disarm, and recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Palestinian pre-conditions to negotiations only serve to obstruct an already complicated process.
When I go to Washington, I will ensure that Congress stands fully behind Israel. Israel must be able to rely on the friendship of the United States as it takes bold steps necessary towards peace in the Middle East. We need to re-invest, broaden our relationship, and grow our economic partnership with Israel in areas such as energy, airport and border security, and homeland security cooperation.
The U.S. government believes that Iran could have a nuclear weapon by 2012. What options will you support to address Iran’s nuclear efforts?
Potosnak:I support bold action to deter any further development of nuclear energy or power on the part of Iran. Experts believe that Iran is very close to having the nuclear materials necessary to create a nuclear weapon. A nuclear Iran threatens the existence of Israel. America must do everything in our power to deter Iran from continuing its nuclear program. All options should be on the table when choosing how to deal with Iran. It is unacceptable for states like Iran in the region to threaten Israel’s existence through anti-Semitic rhetoric, violence and terrorism. I am troubled by how eager my opponent is to encourage nuclear energy, given that nuclear waste is the key ingredient to the creation of a dirty bomb, and a major concern given the threat of terrorism.
Unemployment in New Jersey has been hovering around 10 percent. What policies would you support to increase employment?
Potosnak:Small businesses are the engine of our economy. I am committed to ensuring that small businesses have access to the capital and loans that they need to grow their business, expand their companies, and employ more Americans. We need to allow them to take immediate write-offs for capital equipment purchases that improve their businesses (like a new oven for a restaurant or computer upgrades in an office). These write-offs are currently received over a number of years, but in tough economic times, people need the incentive to make investments now that will put people back to work manufacturing and installing the equipment while upgrading our small businesses.
We need to make the R&D tax credit permanent. Here in the Seventh District, we have some of the most innovative and high-tech companies in the country. I will help get people back to work through increased investment in research and technology.
We need to maintain the high quality schools in our communities and fight against efforts to diminish support. We must make college affordable and within reach for all students, so that they can graduate and become the next generation of American leaders, entrepreneurs, and inventors.
Federal energy policy must take into account calls for energy independence, concerns about global climate change, environmental protection, and domestic energy production. Do you think an energy bill would be important at this time, and what provisions would you make the highest priority?
Potosnak:Any energy legislation I support must not place the burden of greening our energy economy on consumers. The House-passed Cap and Trade legislation rewarded polluters with credits to continue polluting, while passing the financial burden on to American consumers. I oppose the House-passed Cap and Trade legislation for that reason: We should not have to go into the red to go green. Instead, I would support policies that offer incentives for efficiency, market-based incentives to promote green energy production, support for energy research and development, and the elimination of subsidies to the oil and gas industries. I am also a strong advocate for mass transit investments and upgrades to decrease pollution and increase transportation efficiency.
During these difficult economic times, nonprofits are called upon to increase their services to those in need. What tax policies will you support to encourage charitable giving?
Potosnak:I support extending the middle-class tax cuts contained within the Bush-era tax cuts. I am deeply concerned about extending tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans without any offsetting spending cuts. I have yet to hear any proposals from either side of the aisle regarding how those tax cuts would be paid for with responsible spending cuts. Without spending offsets, I am opposed to forcing our next generation to shoulder the burden of paying for tax cuts for the wealthy. I support tax deductions for all income brackets for charitable giving.
What changes would you support, if any, in the Medicaid program so that New Jersey can make home and community-based care more accessible to those who are in need of it, particularly for long-term care services?
Potosnak:Home health-care services have allowed millions of seniors and the disabled access to the regular medical attention they need in the privacy of their own homes rather than in already crowded hospital or nursing homes. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) now proposes cuts in home health services that would amount to approximately $20 billion over 10 years. These cuts could end access to valuable home health services for seniors and the disabled. Patients could be left with no alternatives for post-acute and long-term care other than more costly institutional care. As a congressman, I would work to stop these cuts and urge CMS to study the real impact of these policies before moving forward.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides for the expansion of block grants through Medicaid (among other programs) for the provision of home health-care visits. I also support the continuation of the enhanced match of FMAP this summer. Until New Jersey's budget improves, I will work to make sure that the federal government continues to provide critical relief.