We call for a break with the Democrats and Republicans, who work hand in glove to promote what benefits the capitalist class, said Hoeppner, the SWP candidate in the September 13 special election for the 9th Congressional District seat. We need to build the kind of revolutionary movement that can put working people in power and end class exploitation and wars.
More than 130 people attended the event, sponsored by the Neponsit Property Owners Association and held at the West End Temple.
Hoeppners opponents, Republican Robert Turner and Democrat David Weprin, presented their experience as businessmen as an asset to serve in Congress. Hoeppner, who works in an electronics factory in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, said in recent weeks he had joined picket lines of Verizon strikers and a protest in Germantown, Maryland, to defend an abortion clinic targeted by opponents of womens right to choose.
The newspapers write about an economic recovery, but this is not a recovery for working people, Hoeppner said. We are in a depression. The Socialist Workers Party, he said, demands a massive, government-funded program to create jobs for the unemployed, rebuilding infrastructure, schools, hospitals, firehouses. This is the only way we can stop the capitalists from putting their crisis on the backs of working people.
We have to grow our way out of the crisis, said Turner. We can restore prosperity by becoming energy self-sufficient, expanding hydrofracking, and drilling in Alaska. He proposed cutting taxes for large corporations that return assets from abroad. Weprin said, There is room to increase taxes. Close the loopholes for the biggest corporations. But no taxes on the middle class.
Asked how he would have voted on the debt ceiling, Turner said he would have voted yes, although the agreement was weak. Social Security and Medicare can only be kept with some pain, he said. Those under 55 will have to expect less.
Hoeppner said he would have voted no. The only issue debated in Washington was how far to cut Medicare and Social Security, he said. Medical care should not be run on a profit basis, the socialist candidate said. When you go to the hospital, the first question is your insurance card, not taking your pulse. Obamas health care plan is just a boon to the insurance companies.
Turner objected to Obamas plan because of the fee cuts doctors will face. Weprin said the White House plan is not perfect but does prevent insurance companies from denying coverage.
Housing is my biggest expense, a woman in the audience said. Will any of the candidates have the courage to step up to this problem? She referred to publicly financed New York state apartment buildings scattered throughout the city.
Hoeppner agreed that government-funded housing is desperately needed. It will take a revolutionary movement, like the one in Cuba, for everyone to have affordable housing. In Cuba they overturned capitalist ownership of the land. That immediately made possible much lower rents, he said.
There is no way that much money is around to afford that, responded Turner.
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