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House candidates discuss issues in the 1st District

October 27, 2010
Daily Press

Gary McDowell

Democrat

How should we address Social Security concerns?

I am committed to protecting Social Security, which is why I pledged to oppose any and all efforts to privatize it, reduce benefits or raise the retirement age. During the Reagan Administration, Democrats and Republicans looked at the challenges facing Social Security and worked to make it more sustainable for the future. We can do the same thing again to ensure that the Social Security system remains available without turning it over to Wall Street.

Do we need another stimulus package to aid the economy?

The best economic stimulus we could have is putting Americans back to work so I would support policies that help the private sector hire workers. One of the most important investments we can make to create jobs in the near term and lay the groundwork for future economic growth is in our infrastructure, such as roads. We need to create a sustainable, long-term plan for these investments that does not add to the deficit.

Would you have voted for the President's Health Care bill?

There are a lot of good things in the health care bill - prohibiting insurance from dropping people with pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, prohibiting insurance from dropping individuals when they become sick - and there are things that might not work that will need to be changed. What I can't support is going back to a system where we are all at the mercy of the insurance companies.

What would be your number one priority if elected?

My number one priority throughout this campaign has been creating and sustaining the good-paying, middle-class jobs that drive our economy and strengthen our communities. There is no "silver bullet" to accomplish this goal but I will work everyday to ensure that our federal laws help businesses create these jobs right here in northern Michigan.

Would you support energy drilling in the Great Lakes?

Absolutely not. The federal ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes must remain in place. Additionally, I would aggressively work with our Canadian neighbors urging them to adopt a similar ban on drilling. The Great Lakes are a shared resource and as long as anyone is drilling in them we are all at risk.

How would you balance environmental concerns with job creation?

Protecting our environment has to be a priority, but we have to approach the issue with jobs in mind. I would oppose the current cap and trade proposal because it would result in higher energy costs, which would stifle job creation. But our pristine environment is itself an economic driver, particularly with regard to our tourism economy, so I would also work to further protect the Great Lakes against invasive species such as Asian carp.

How would you deal with Iran and its growing nuclear capability?

We have to remain engaged in international efforts to monitor and curtail Iran's nuclear capability, while reserving the right to act on our own if and only when it is clear there's no other option. Economic sanctions are an appropriate first step. This is a global problem that will be best solved by a coalition of our global partners but if those efforts should fail the United States has the right to defend its interests.

Would you extend unemployment benefits any further?

Given the slow pace of the economic recovery it is something that should be considered, perhaps with additional safeguards to ensure that those who have already maxed out their unemployment benefits are actively seeking work.

Dan Benishek

Republican

How should we address Social Security concerns?

There should be no reduction, freeze, or changes in the benefits provided existing retirees. This is a promise made by the government, and it must be honored 100%. However, reforms are needed to ensure the program's solvency. Younger workers should have the option of placing a portion of their Social Security taxes into guaranteed personal accounts, like those available to federal employees. This would allow workers to pass on these assets on to their heirs.

Do we need another stimulus package to aid the economy?

The first federal stimulus package - containing nearly $1 trillion in spending - failed. Michigan still has a 14 percent unemployment rate. A better way to aid the economy would be for Congress to cut spending, cut taxes, and cut government regulation. Until these steps are taken, there will be continuing uncertainty for businesses in Northern Michigan. We need to create an atmosphere of certainty where businesses are confident and can begin to hire again.

Would you have voted for the President's Health Care bill?

No. America has the best health care system in the world - a system that needs fine-tuning, but definitely not a government take-over. As a physician, I know that we need to focus on free market reforms, which will decrease costs. ObamaCare should be replaced with a bill allowing health insurance to be tax deductible, portable, and sold across state lines. Tort reform is also needed to rein in skyrocketing costs associated with frivolous medical lawsuits.

What would be your number one priority if elected?

Bringing jobs back to Northern Michigan would be my top priority. Michigan was recently rated the hardest state in the country in which to find work. That is unacceptable. To fix the problem, our best hope lies in the private - not public - sector. In particular, we need to support small businesses, which are the real engines of job creation. Government should step aside and let the free market work by reducing burdensome regulation and taxation.

Would you support energy drilling in the Great Lakes?

As a life-long Northern Michigan resident, I know that the Great Lakes are one of America's greatest national treasures. Every effort must be made to protect them - including a ban on drilling in the Great Lakes, which I support - so they can be enjoyed for generations to come. Furthermore, polluters should be held fully accountable for the damage they do to our environment.

How would you balance environmental concerns with job creation?

As an avid outdoorsman, I understand the need to protect our environment. The lakes, woods, and wildlife of Northern Michigan must be preserved for future generations. However, a proper balance must be found. The logging and mining industries, for example, provide good jobs for Northern Michigan residents. Excessive government regulation threatens to stifle economic growth and make the unemployment situation in Michigan even worse.

How would you deal with Iran and its growing nuclear capability?

The United States must continue its role as a leader in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons would destabilize the region and directly threaten the United States and our allies. Careful oversight is needed to ensure that Iran's nuclear capabilities are for peaceful purposes only.

Would you extend unemployment benefits any further?

Unemployment benefits provide an important short-term safeguard for those who lose their jobs, and I support that safety net. However, these benefits should be temporary, with the purpose of aiding unemployed individuals while they search for new work. America was founded on hard work and ingenuity, and that same entrepreneurial spirit - rather than government bailouts, spending, and regulation - is what will bring jobs back to this country.

 
 

 

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