On major issues, candidates far apartIf there were any undecided voters among the 1,800 who attended Tuesday’s congressional candidate forum in Duluth, they were hard to spot. Most came wearing stickers, shirts or hats with their candidate’s name.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
If there were any undecided voters among the 1,800 who attended Tuesday’s congressional candidate forum in Duluth, they were hard to spot. Most came wearing stickers, shirts or hats with their candidate’s name.
For those hard-to-spot undecided voters, though, Chip Cravaack and Jim Oberstar had a chance to stake out positions on the key issues that separate them.
When asked what their first priority would be if elected to Congress, Republican Cravaack said he would “get rid of Obamacare,” to shouts of glee and applause from his supporters.
“I want to make sure that never happens,” DFLer Oberstar snapped back, adding that he would work to protect health-care reform. He said his top priority would be to pass a federal transportation funding bill to put construction workers back to work rebuilding the nation’s highways, rails and airports.
The differences on health-care reform were stark.
“It’s going to be a job killer,” Cravaack said. “It’s going to put a bureaucrat between us and our doctor.”
But Oberstar said the health-reform package “that I proudly voted for” will guarantee coverage despite pre-existing conditions, guarantee coverage won’t be cut off, end caps on benefits and, eventually, reduce the cost of health insurance while covering more people.
Oberstar countered that “health insurance company bureaucrats” already are standing between patients and doctors, denying coverage and looking after corporate “bottom lines” rather than patient care.
The candidates also were at opposite ends on whether the federal economic stimulus efforts have paid off.
Cravaack said no, that the increased federal spending has put the nation further into debt with little to show. Democrats vowed the stimulus would keep unemployment at 8 percent or lower, Cravaack noted, but it now stands at 10 percent “and it’s 13 percent in Brainerd.”
The stimulus has increased the federal debt that future generations “will be paying for for the rest of their lives. Did the stimulus bill work? No,” Cravaack said. “The United States government does not create jobs.”
Cravaack said the government would create more jobs by cutting business taxes.
“Get rid of the regulations and restrictions,” Cravaack said, adding that “I trust you with your money. He (Oberstar) trusts government with your money.”
Oberstar countered that the stimulus bill and related federal economic efforts helped slow job loss in the nation while providing
private-sector jobs rebuilding roads, bridges and buildings nationwide. Oberstar said the new federal spending created 13,000 construction jobs in Minnesota alone and will help pay for new airport terminals in Duluth and Brainerd and 535 miles of highway reconstruction in the state.