Candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:

Programs: To what extent should the federal government provide benefits for the unemployed and for those in the Medicaid program? What programs, if any, should the federal government cut or expand?

Defense: How much he did the government spend on national defense, and which military programs do you believe are vital to that defense? Do you support a freeze on the production of nuclear arms?

Social Security: What changes do you favor in the funding and eligibility requirements for Social Security?

William P. Guthrie (R), 29, of 3130 Laurel Ave., Cheverly, is a PhD candidate in public administration and American government at the University of Maryland. He participated in the Young Republican Leadership Conference this year and has worked in congressional and presidential campaigns.

Programs: Primary responsibility for these areas should rest on state and local jurisdictions. Unemployment support should be a stop-gap only -- we must revive our dying economy and thus reabsorb the temporarily jobless into the private sector. State and federal "jobs" programs are costly and wasteful failures that destroy more jobs than they create. Social welfare programs in general must be reorganized and rationalized and their total expenditures reduced.

Defense: Defense should run about $1.5 trillion over the next five years. Vital to America's survival are the Trident program, cruise missiles, the Europe-based IRBMs, the MX program and the B-1 bomber, in that order. In addition, our conventional forces should be reorganized, modernized and reequipped, our space capacity expanded and our active ballistic subs raised to their treaty maximum of 42. Any form of arms control agreement that does not provide for on-site inspection and verification (in view of Soviet intransiency, a remote contingency) can only be described as an act of sucidial folly.

Social Security: Only persons who actually contributed to Social Security should receive benefits; the program was never intended as a catch-all for welfare recipients, and cannot fund them any longer. Social Security must, if it is to survive, be placed on a sound actuarial basis, like a pension investment fund. The present generation of workers should be converted to this method as soon as possible. Present recipients will be supported on current revenues -- which will entail cuts in less vital areas. This long-term solution will entail short-term sacrifices.

Steny H. Hoyer (D), incumbent, 43, of 6621 Lacona St., Berkshire, was elected to Congress last year. He serves on Post Office and Civil Service and Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs committees and on several caucuses. A graduate of Georgetown University law school, he was elected in 1966 to the state Senate where he served 12 years, including four as president.

Programs: The government bears the burden of helping its unemployed citizens, either through providing benefits, by stimulating the economy by reducing deficits or through the promotion of jobs programs that directly involve the long-term needs of the private sector. We must continue to maintain benefits for our unemployed workers, who, unfortunately, have been caught in the economic maelstrom of our badly damaged economy. Recent New Federalism proposals by the president propose to transfer the responsibility for Medicaid to the federal government. This proposal concerns me: first, the federal government is already having problems managing the Medicare program efficiently; second, there exists a very strong possibility that the federal government will not provide the level and degree of coverage under Medicaid currently offered by Maryland. The key element in efficient government is to reduce fraud, waste and abuse in its individual programs. For instance, the Defense Department, Medicare and Social Security all need to be closely scrutinized to eliminate waste before we begin any harmful premature reduction of services.

Defense: We must ensure that we have a strong defense posture, with particular emphasis on rebuilding our conventional land force capability. While strengthening our defense system, we must also implement safeguards against the escalation of nuclear weapons worldwide. Recently, I cosponsored a nuclear freeze resolution that would have provided for a mutually verifiable freeze on nuclear weapons. This legislation would have prevented further escalation of the current arms race, and it contrasted sharply with the administration's proposal which required that we negotiate parity with the Soviets before a freeze would begin. The latter proposal, which was ultimately adopted, will result in a protracted period of negotiation -- years -- while escalation of the store of arms on both sides will continue unabated. On the other hand, a negotiated, mutually verifiable freeze at present levels, as proposed by the Foreign Affairs Committee, would be feasible in the short term.

Social Security: It is clear that modifications must be made in the existing Social Security program, because while it has proved to be one of the most successful government programs of this century, it is experiencing both short-term and long-term financial problems. The president has indicated to the American public that he was absolutely committed to a policy of no reductions in Social Security benefits. Despite his promises, he has repeatedly proposed reducing benefits -- proposals stopped by the Congress. Currently, a bipartisan commission is studying the entire program, and its report, due this fall, will undoubtedly make proposals for long-term reforms. I will be supportive of reforms, in general, which will not require any substantial change in Social Security benefits before 1990. This will provide an opportunity for people to plan ahead and understand exactly what their benefits would be upon reaching the age of eligibility for the program.