Two Republican candidates for the 1st District congressional seat agree on two key points.
The federal government should butt out of public education, and uncontrolled federal spending must be dealt with decisively through reforming and slashing entitlement and government assistance programs, including food stamps and welfare.
State Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, and Elizabeth Moffly, a member of the Charleston County school board, told a group of about 35 gathered at the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort on Thursday they will work to boot the federal government out of the classroom and citizens' pocketbooks.
The town hall forum was first in a series hosted by Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, for Republican candidates running in the race.
Limehouse, a Mount Pleasant resident and co-owner of hotels and a real estate management company, has served in the S.C. House since 1995. He is vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the panel that writes the state budget each year.
He plans to make passage of a balanced federal budget amendment -- similar to the law that requires South Carolina to balance its budget each year -- a top priority.
Asked where he would cut federal spending to bring down the nation's trillion-dollar deficit, Limehouse said he would get rid of "redundant" federal agencies -- such as the park service -- privatize the post office and reduce welfare rolls.
"President Obama has expanded our welfare rolls dramatically and I would reverse that, shortening the time people are allowed to be on these programs ... ," he said. He also called education a state rather than a federal issue.
Moffly, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 as the GOP candidate for state superintendent of education, echoed many of Limehouse's concerns.
Asked where she would cut federal spending, Moffly said she would eliminate the U.S. departments of education and agriculture. She said her frustration with federal education mandates under the No Child Left Behind law partially prompted her to run for public office.
She also said the federal government needs to ensure welfare recipients "needing temporary help are not victims of a system they can't get out of."
Moffly said she would collaborate with both Republicans and Democrats in an effort to break partisan gridlock.
"I believe in 'We the people'; not "we the Democrats' or 'we the Republicans'," she said. "What I've learned campaigning ... is people don't feel like they're being heard. What drove me to run for public office is a desire to serve and correct issues that are holding us back -- to fix our economic structure and be a voice in collaborating."
Nineteen candidates -- 16 Republicans and three Democrats -- have filed to run for the congressional seat vacated by Tim Scott, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate. That number makes it one of the most crowded U.S. House races in recent state history. The district spans parts of five counties, including a portion of Beaufort County.
The next forum will be at 6 p.m. Monday with former Gov. Mark Sanford and Teddy Turner.