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Koffenberger

Candidates in the 4th Congressional District race offer widely varied ideas for taxing people and paying off the federal deficit, ranging from spending more money to eliminating income taxes.

The four men also weighed in on the Bush-era tax cuts and $109 billion in automatic federal spending cuts, or "sequester," scheduled for the Department of Defense and other non-defense spending.

The steep cuts, proposed by a congressional super committee for deficit reduction, will go into effect Jan. 2 if Congress doesn't adopt an alternative plan to finance the government.

Their positions are as follows.

Democrat Harry Perkinson: He says the deficit can't be addressed until more Americans are employed and paying taxes; that'll reduce the cost of "safety net" programs such as food stamps.

He said the debt isn't the problem, the economy is, and the economy could be improved by spending more money on infrastructure, education, and making long-term improvements.

The economy is mostly consumer driven, he said, but "supply side" ideas have forced people out of the middle class.

Bush-era tax cuts caused the growing debt, reducing revenue at the same time the U.S. was fighting two wars. He said he would like to see middle-class tax cuts maintained while others revert to the Clinton-era tax schedule.

Perkinson said reform is needed to clean up the corporate tax code and eliminate loopholes and favors that have been added to the system over decades.

Personal income taxes also need to be examined and capital gains breaks removed, he said, noting that "Reagan didn't give anyone a break on capital gains."

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg: Perry said he doesn't support sequestration and thinks it's a political gimmick.

"It's irresponsible for legislators to say they'll make cuts at that level when they don't know what they're cutting," he said. "It's not valuing national security."

He said he doesn't know what he would to do to avoid sequestration, but he hopes and believes legislators will because there are several military installations in the York area that could be affected.

Perry said the deficit needs to be addressed, but he would generate money by encouraging business and save money by consolidating services and looking for redundancies in federal government. Once in office, he said he would evaluate ways where specific cuts could be made.

On taxes, Perry said the United States has "a spending problem, not a revenue problem."

He's in favor of extending the Bush-era tax cuts, and he wants taxes to be cut for all Americans, he said.

Perry supports either a flat tax or some incarnation of a "fair tax," he said.

Under "fair" tax proposals, every person in the United States would pay a 23 percent national sales tax, which is equal to the lowest current income tax bracket of 15 percent combined with employee payroll taxes of 7.65 percent, both of which would be eliminated.

Libertarian Mike Koffenberger: Koffenberger said the military cuts should go into effect.

The key to reducing the deficit is reducing bureaucracy that has grown out of control since the nation's founding, he said, and the defense budget can absorb the blow.

"We took it upon ourselves to be the world's police, and the United States needs to move back to defense of its country and pull all overseas bases where the United States pays the full bill," he said. "We should not have to be responsible for anyone else but ourselves."

He supports the elimination of all income taxes, switching to a consumption tax on everything but food and medicine, he said. He would support extension of the Bush-era tax cuts because he supports all tax cuts, he said.

Independent Wayne Wolff: He says he doesn't see the "lame duck" Congress passing any legislation to stall sequestration, and there's no emergency.

"We'll be safe," he said. "There's a lot of room for cutting. It'll force the Department of Defense to take a closer look at the budget and shift money to the areas they feel are more important. It's time to bite the bullet and get working on the problem."

Like Koffenberger, he said the United States should close overseas bases and focus on domestic security.

Wolff said the Bush-era tax cuts should not only be extended, but income taxes should be eliminated. He's also in favor of a shift to a consumption tax.

- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.