DeMarco, Palmer attend candidates’ forum

Republican candidates for the 6th Congressional District seat, Paul DeMarco and Gary Palmer, answered questions in front of a large crowd during a June 24 candidates' forum at Jefferson State Community College. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

Republican candidates for the 6th Congressional District seat, Paul DeMarco and Gary Palmer, answered questions in front of a large crowd during a June 24 candidates’ forum at Jefferson State Community College. (Reporter Photo / Molly Davidson)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HOOVER—Republican candidates for the 6th Congressional district seat runoff, State Rep. Paul DeMarco and Alabama Policy Institute co-founder Gary Palmer, participated in a candidates’ forum at the Jefferson State Community College health science building, hosted by Jefferson State Community College, the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, AARP Alabama, WBRC Fox 6 and Public Radio WBHM 90.3 FM.

In front of a packed venue, Palmer and DeMarco affirmed their conservative values and fielded questions about hot-button topics such as spending and tax reform, healthcare issues and national security.

While Palmer and DeMarco stood staunchly behind promises to never support tax increases, they differed on solutions to managing the federal budget and spending.

In order to trim government spending, Palmer advocated for a close examination of every federal program, eliminating any that are unnecessary or duplicated at the federal or state level, and contracting to the private sector when possible. He also suggested cutting the corporate income tax.

“We have the highest corporate income tax in the world,” Palmer said, explaining it is a deterrent for businesses to remain in America. “(We need to) cut or eliminate our corporate income tax.”

DeMarco outlined a different approach to dealing with federal spending and budgeting, taking a cue from the Alabama budget.

“I’m going to look here for answers. Here at home we do know how to balance our budget,” DeMarco said, stressing the importance of prioritizing spending. “States are balancing their budgets, states are prioritizing.”

DeMarco also suggested eliminating the Internal Revenue Service. Due to “corruption, lies and misrepresentations,” DeMarco said the IRS has lost public trust and should be shut down “once and for all.”

Both DeMarco and Palmer expressed opposition to the Affordable Care Act and agreed that healthcare is in need of reform.

“We didn’t have a healthcare issue, we had a health insurance issue,” DeMarco said, expressing a desire to return to the pre-Affordable Care Act system where “if you work hard, you can get the insurance to take care of your family.”

Palmer suggested a different approach centered around health savings accounts.

“You start with health savings accounts… (they) allow (individuals) to control their spending because they’re basically spending their own money,” Palmer said, noting unused funds would roll over and build over time.

Finally, Palmer and DeMarco also agreed that national security is a top priority, but they also firmly upheld Americans’ rights to privacy in opposition to abuses under the National Security Agency.

“None of us want to have another 9/11,” DeMarco said, but he stressed a need to “balance civil liberties and constitutional protections with national security.

Palmer cited the 4th Amendment right to “be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects,” adding the government has the necessary tools to keep American safe “without infringing on the rights of the American citizens.”

Voting for the 6th Congressional District runoff will take place on July 15 and the winning candidate will face Democrat Avery Vise and Libertarian Amiee Love in general election in November.

The 6th Congressional District covers Shelby, Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Coosa and Jefferson counties, with the exception of the city of Birmingham.