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 should 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?
Patricia O'Brien Aiken (D), 60, of 501 Epping Forest Rd., Annapolis, served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1975 to 1979. Active in environmental and zoning issues, she has been a soil conservation official and secretary of the Maryland Environmental Trust in Anne Arundel County. She was a 1980 delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Programs: To the extent that those people who are unemployed, through no fault of their own, will be able to keep their heads above water until they can relocate. Most are unemployed because of public policy -- RIFs, high interest rates and need to lower inflation. The private enterprise system doesn't work when people don't have the chance for jobs. Cutting Medicaid makes very little fiscal sense because lack of medical care means that long-term illness can result and we pick up a larger bill. A great deal more should be done about Medicaid fraud so the system will be there for those in real need. High-technology training programs as well as national computer job banks and up-to-date information as to what kind of job skills are marketable should be available to the person who is job hunting. Public works jobs should be used until we get the economy righted again.
Defense: I would be in favor of less money spent for defense than this administration is presently planning. One of the strange things going on is that although billions are budgeted, relatively few contracts have been let. It's possible that even the Defense Department establishment has realized that just to throw money at the problem doesn't make for good defense. I would push for weapons that could be used effectively by the soldier in the field. If we're going to ask somebody to fight and die for us, the least we can do for him is give him a gun that doesn't jam and a tank that doesn't stall. In other words, I oppose outrageous cost overruns, which waste more money than we put into social programs, and stacks of dubious weapons. I support the freeze.
Social Security: I don't favor any changes. If necessary, I would favor borrowing intra-fund or from general revenue. (The federal government has been borrowing from Social Security funds at low interest rates since 1937.) But the cause of the expected shortfall is that not enough people are paying into the system -- in other words, high unemployment. So the overall answer is putting people back to work. The COLA [cost of living adjustment] should probably be based on wages and prices instead of just prices, as wages have not risen the way prices have. The system will right itself by 1990, in any case. Importantly, Social Security funds should be returned to the way they were before 1968 -- an autonomous trust fund; now it is part of the federal budget, where any administration can play politics with it.
Marjorie S. Holt (R), incumbent, 62, of 151 Boone Trail, Severna Park, was first elected to the U.S. House in 1972. During her tenure in Congress she has served on Armed Services and Budget committees and has been board vice chairman of the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment. An attorney, she co-wrote and edited a book on Congress in 1967.
Programs: Unemployment compensation is designed to support workers who are temporarily unemployed through no fault of their own. Benefits are paid by the states from taxes on employers, but the federal government shares administration costs. In times of severe recession, the federal government authorizes extension of benefits beyond the normal 26 weeks and pays half the cost. Medicaid is essentially a state program assisted with federal matching funds. I am not proposing major changes in either of these programs. Savings can be achieved throughout the federal budget, including defense. Although a defense buildup has been necessary after years of cuts that eroded our capability, large savings can be achieved by a modest reduction in the growth rate.
Defense: National defense is the unique and foremost responsibility of the national government. Defense will claim about 29 percent of the 1983 federal budget. However, the real issue is how much we must spend to effectively deter aggression against the U.S. and our vital interests in the world. Defense programs are designed for coordinated action against potential aggressors. They are designed to deal with contingencies ranging from small conflicts to major wars. I could not support a "unilateral freeze" on the production of nuclear arms. I support the negotiations with the Soviet Union for a mutual and verifiable reduction of nuclear arms to a condition of parity. Even a "freeze" at current levels woule need to be negotiated, and I prefer that we work for negotiated reductions. Our primary goal must be the avoidance of war, and that requires a balance of power.
Social Security: The Social Security program must be restored to solvency. I do not support any reduction in benefits to current recipients. A bipartisan commission appointed by the president and Congress will soon be presenting its findings and recommendations. The Congress will then prepare legislation.