By AMANDA GRAY
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Three candidates will compete Tuesday for Indiana’s U.S. House District 2 seat, which does not have an incumbent. Current District 2 representative Joe Donnelly is running as the Democratic candidate for Indiana’s open Senate seat.
As of Jan. 1, District 2 will include all of Elkhart County. Currently it only includes a small portion of the county.
Democrat Brendan Mullen, Republican Jackie Walorski and Libertarian Joe Ruiz have answered questions for The Goshen News, and their answers follow:
Do you feel U.S. spending is a major issue and if so, how would you go about changing it?
Mullen: Irresponsible spending by career politicians has driven the debt through the ceiling and it’s unacceptable.
We need to responsibly balance our budget by closing tax loopholes that reward companies that ship jobs overseas and ending tax breaks for Big Oil, while keeping the promises we’ve made to our seniors, protecting Social Security and Medicare. We need to cut out the waste, fraud and abuse in our federal government, to create a climate for job growth. I will cut Congressional pay and benefits until both sides of the aisle come together to find solutions, do their job, and balance the budget. I also support eliminating Congressional perks like free healthcare and pensions. The only way to get our debt under control is to hire middle of the road problem solvers who are willing to come to the middle of the table.
Walorski: Yes, government spending is a major issue and Congress must work to get our fiscal house in order to restore fiscal prosperity in our country. I will support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and will work across the aisle on a bipartisan plan to cut wasteful spending. I support an audit for all federal agencies to ensure they are operating efficiently. The federal government needs to live within its means, not just the Hoosier families.
Ruiz: Spending is the most significant issue in this election. Our national debt has reached over $16 trillion with the U.S. Government spending approximately $40,000 every second. For many Hoosiers that is an entire year’s salary (if not more) being spent in the blink of an eye. Regardless, Congress continues to propose spending increases annually. These practices are unsustainable. Continuing to spend more money than we bring in risks dependency on other nations for borrowing purposes, as well as dependency on our own printing presses to create more U.S. Dollars. Neither is a safe practice. Spending cuts across the board are imperative. However, we must do so in a way that upholds the contracts which we have made with current Social Security recipients and United States Veterans. As your Representative I will never vote to increase taxes or the U.S. Debt Ceiling, but I will challenge our spending practices fervently.
What is your position on the Affordable Care Act (leave it alone, refine it, repeal it)? Please explain.
Walorski: I support the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. As it stands, Obamacare promises to cut over $700 billion from Medicare and will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.7 trillion. I do not support appointing an unelected board of bureaucrats to make health care decisions that are best left to a patient and their doctor. There are provisions in the health care law that are particularly harmful to Hoosier businesses, such as the 2.3 percent medical device tax that will decimate the orthotic industry in Kosciusko County. The Affordable Care Act is projected to hurt small businesses and middle class families, and must be repealed in full. I will support a bipartisan step-by-step initiative in Congress to find common sense solutions to our health care challenges. It must be done responsibly and efficiently to create reforms that will help American families.
Ruiz: People deserve honest and affordable health care. Unfortunately the Affordable Care Act does nothing to honestly address the problems that we are facing. Rather it is more of a shortcut, upheld by the Supreme Court, which uses a massive overhaul of the U.S. Health Care industry to fix a problem that could have been solved in a much simpler fashion. The Affordable Care Act must be repealed. I will work hard for that. I will also work to allow insurance companies to compete across state lines. This will increase competition amongst insurance companies and the cost of health insurance will naturally be driven down as businesses attempt to create more quality coverage plans for the most affordable prices. And why would they do that? They’d have to, or they’d be out of business. In a free market consumers are empowered by choices. In a government controlled market, consumers have none.
Mullen: As a small business owner and family man, I believe we have a long way to go to make this law fair for small businesses and health care affordable for our families. We need to work together to address the potentially damaging pieces of this legislation such as the burdens it would place on individual taxpayer and small businesses. At the same time, we need to focus on ensuring our families are protected from insurance industry abuses that would drop a family’s coverage because of a pre-existing condition or deny preventive care to our seniors. One of my first priorities would be to eliminate the tax on medical devices and redefine the role of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). Such a tax will cost Hoosiers jobs, especially in the 2nd District, which we can’t afford.
How would you suggest the two parties work together in the future?
Ruiz: A better question would inquire as to how the three parties would work together in the future. Under the Republican and Democratic system congressmen (and women) have (unfortunately) become more concerned with serving the needs of their parties than the people whom they are supposed to represent. As a Libertarian, a vote for me breaks the cycle. I will prove to be the trend setter in Washington. Rather than serving the needs of a political party, I will seek to find coalitions on specific issues with other members of Congress. It doesn’t matter which party they’re from. Setting common goals on behalf of the people that we represent, and working together to capitalize on those agreements is how good government is supposed to function.
Mullen: When I was in serving in Iraq , one of my jobs was to train the Iraqi officers. Mentoring these officers and soldiers took extraordinary patience and willingness on both sides to trust one another and work cooperatively toward a common goal. In a lot of ways, it was good training for how Congress should work. We can start fixing our problems by reaching across the aisle and realizing that no one party has a monopoly on good ideas. A common-sense approach to government that puts Hoosier first, not party platforms, will help us break the gridlock and move our country forward. If elected, I’ve pledged to serve no more than 3 terms. I look at this journey as another deployment: get in, make a difference, and get out. I will be looking to work with anyone willing to roll up their sleeves and strive towards solutions for Hoosier families.
Walorski: Bipartisanship starts with teamwork, and requires a group of willing lawmakers who want to come to the table and discuss real solutions that will help the American people. Party affiliation cannot be a factor, and Congress must be willing to put politics aside to talk about the issues. During my tenure in the Statehouse, I was an independent voice for our communities and helped pass meaningful legislation on issues such as economic development. My voting record shows I voted for passing, bipartisan legislation 75 percent of the time. I plan to use the same approach in Congress, and will also concentrate on forming working relationships with all members of the Indiana delegation so we can vote to help Hoosiers.
How will Hoosiers, specifically those in your district, benefit from you time in office, if you’re elected?
Ruiz: The other two parties — the Republicans and the Democrats, have different priorities than I have as a Libertarian. Republicans and Democrats have obligations to their parties while my only obligation is to the people of District 2. The Libertarian Party gives me the freedom to serve as Joe Ruiz, not as Libertarian Joe Ruiz, Democrat Joe Ruiz or Republican Joe Ruiz. I’m just a guy who has spent the last six years serving my family and the people in our community. All I want is to continue to do that, only now it will be in the capacity of District 2 Representative. At the end of my first term the people will be able to look at my record and see that I have voted with honesty and consistency as relates to the idea of limited government. I want the people of District 2 to feel empowered.
Walorski: I am focused on creating jobs and improving the economy. I have a voting record that proves my success in achieving real solutions to help Hoosier families. Working as a team, Indiana balanced the budget, turned a $1 billion debt into a surplus, and restored our AAA bond rating. I will vote to pass a balanced budget amendment and cut wasteful spending to work toward the same goals on the federal level. In respect to economic development, Indiana passed meaningful legislation — such as the creation of the Indiana Economic Development Council — to provide incentives and tax credits for new businesses. In the midst of a recession, Indiana created jobs and is now rated the best Midwest state to start a business. I believe through bipartisan teamwork, the same is possible in Washington. I am committed to finding real common sense solutions to tackle the issues slowing our economy to restore prosperity.
Mullen: If elected I promise to go to work every day with one mission: I don’t care if it’s a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, if it creates jobs, I’m going to do it. I will not make decisions based party or politics. I will always do my job, and do what’s best for Hoosiers. I will be a common sense voice for our home. I share the same values as those I seek to represent and those are the values and experiences I will take with me to Washington. I am a small business owner, Hoosier family man, and soldier. We have seen what happens with career politicians with partisan positions are elected to Congress. I fight to break the gridlock and bring individuals from both sides of the aisle together to work towards finding solutions for the problems Hoosier families face.