Finello Goes After Fitzpatrick’s Healthcare Record in Debate

Portraits of Pennsylvania 1st Congressional District Democratic candidate Christina Finello (left) and Republican US Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (right). (Photos courtesy of the candidates' campaigns.)

By Freda Savana

October 12, 2020

Democratic congressional candidate Christina Finello assailed Republican incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick for his vote for the Trump tax bill, saying it “gutted the Affordable Care Act” and took money from the district’s working families.

Republican US Rep. Brian Ftizpatrick and Democratic challenger Christina Finello debated a wide range of subjects Monday morning.

While Fitzpatrick, who represents Pennsylvania’s 1st District, defended his voting record as being “the most independent in history,” Finello said Fitzpatrick’s support of President Donald Trump’s tax bill has “gutted the Affordable Care Act” and taken money from the district’s working families.

“We need a change and that change is me,” Finello said. 

Finello, an attorney who also holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, said district residents and small business owners have suffered through “payless paydays” because Fitzpatrick and the Trump administration downplayed the coronavirus pandemic. Finello said small business owners in the district have asked her, “When are we going to have a response around COVID?”

She said she supports relief for small business owners and extending unemployment insurance as the pandemic continues. However, Finello added, that is “a short-term” solution. The larger concern is controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We do not have this virus under control,” Finello said. “It’s hard to return to new normalcy until we acknowledge the virus.”

Fitzpatrick, who has been in the US House of Representatives since 2016, referred to his support of the Restaurants Act and the $30 billion Health Club Recovery Fund, neither of which has been passed. Each, he said, would provide relief to many businesses affected by the pandemic. Additionally, he said, he voted for the initial CARES Act and will support “CARES Act 2.0.”

Asked about their positions on COVID-19 liability protection for businesses, which is included in the Republican-proposed relief packages, the candidates had differing views. Fitzpatrick said businesses should be protected from “frivolous lawsuits” the public could bring against businesses who follow protection guidelines. 

Senate and House Republicans have insisted that businesses must be protected from lawsuits that would hold them liable if someone should contract COVID-19 while they are in their businesses. The issue has been a stumbling block in passing a new CARES Act.

The two also discussed the Affordable Care Act, with both expressing support.

“It should not be eliminated or repealed,” said Fitzpatrick, adding, “we should fix what’s broken.”

Finello said Trump’s tax bill, which Fitzpatrick supported, is part of what broke the Affordable Care Act.

“You lit the match that started the fire, then you expect us to give you an award for not pouring gasoline on it,” she said.

Finello said the tax bill has rewarded wealthy people and taken money from working people.

“I know the value of moving into the middle class,” she said. “It’s a matter of where your priorities are, mine are with the hardworking folks of this district.”

Fitzpatrick defended the tax bill, saying it cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to approximately 21%. The lower tax rates, he asserted, helped small businesses and helped create “a booming economy.” Retracting that bill, Fitzpatrick said, would be detrimental to the economy. 

The debate moderators asked the candidates about the most important issue each would compromise on.

“It’s really not about compromise,” Finello said. “It’s about reaching consensus.”

Finello said she has experience with reaching consensus as the sole Democrat on the Ivyland Borough Council. Ivyland is a small borough with a population just over 1,000.

However, Finello said, an issue she would work to compromise on is one that would protect pre-existing conditions and provide affordable, accessible healthcare to all Americans.

Fitzpatrick said he’s worked on “real reform…to break the gridlock.”

Fitzpatrick is a member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which has been pushing for legislation that would allow issues that can garner 290 votes to be brought to the floor without having the support of Congressional leaders.

The one-hour debate was hosted by the League of Women Voters of Bucks County and the Bucks County Chamber of Commerce.

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