Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Pastor, a Chicken Farmer, a Veteran, and -- The MI-07 Debate



Let me say again, the debate last night was quite a sight. It was a diverse set of candidates (as seen in the title), and very animated, in contrast to the debate immediately preceding it.

As the candidate's discussed their views on the issues, I was writing notes on each question and each answer at a frantic pace. Not quite live blogging-- there was no internet connection, but I didn't have a laptop anyway-- but it's the next best thing.

I've tried to keep my editorializing to a minimum, presenting the questions and answers as clearly and honestly as I can. Anything in quotation marks is an actual quote, with perhaps minor human error on my part. Questions are abbreviated, but the intent is preserved. It's not as nice as a transcript would be, but hopefully it'll give you a fair idea of how the debate progressed.

Questions came from two panelists, one from Adrian's Daily Telegram, the other from radio station WLEN. Each question was addressed to a specific candidate, who had three minutes to answer, and then each of the other three candidates were given one minute for a response or rebuttal. In addition, each candidate was given an opportunity to give an opening statement and closing comments, in most cases pre-written statements.

If you don't like my coverage or doubt my objectivity, feel free to check out the other media coverage:
The Daily Telegram - "Sharp lines drawn as Renier attacks Walberg"
The Jackson Citizen-Patriot - "Congress candidates square off in Adrian"

Now, the 7th District Debate:

Opening Statements

Robert Hutchinson
- Read personal resumé.
- Born in 1923, graduated high school in 1941 and joined the Army Air Corps. Distinguished career of service through World War II.
- Has been active in politics since high school, but this is his first run for office. Why now, at age 83? Service.
- Hates to believe that lives have been lost for nothing, and, rather than running against the other three candidates, is running against a failed, bipartisan 50-year-old foreign policy.
Timothy Walberg
- Described record of service, including 16 years in the Michigan House of Representatives, 57th District.
- Stands for low taxes, life, traditional marriage.
- Dedicated to "cutting spending that's threatening liberty."
David Horn
- [Note: Mistakenly thanked Spring Arbor College for hosting the event; actual host was Siena Heights University]
- Has witnessed a downward trend for the country over the last two years.
- Stands against curruption, spending.
- Believes the people ought to decide life, marriage issues, not the unelected courts.
Sharon Marie Renier
- Described herself as a farmer, businesswoman, and mother.
- Hopes to send a message-- American people are not satisfied with Iraq, corruption, the Foley scandal, and President Bush.
- Source of trouble is the protective attitude of Washington Republicans, protecting the "good old boys"; Walberg is just another one of them.

Questions

In order to combat the debt, what would you do and what programs might you defund?
Hutchinson
- Stop being the "policemen of the world"
Walberg
- "Well, where to begin?"
- Cut No Child Left Behind, eliminate the Dept. of Education as sources of wasteful spending (noted that local control of education was preferable)
- Cut earmarking, pork-barrelling
Horn
- Noted he had the same reaction as Walberg-- "Where to begin?"
- Would also cut corporate subsidies-- they don't benefit individuals
- Eliminate Dept. of Health and Human Services and Dept. of Labor (and, presumably, others) as there's no constitutional basis.
Renier
- Support a Balanced Budget Amendment
- Support a line-item veto-- especially with defense bills, unrelated pork is added to bills that will pass to "support our troops"
- "Get Iraqi politicians off American welfare."

Do Americans have a right to universal health care?
Walberg
- "Absolutely not. It's not a right, it's an opportunity we have."
- Get rid of third-party pay system [Note: get rid of insurance companies?], encourage personal responsibility.
- Tort reform-- fewer lawsuits
- America has the greatest health care known to the world
Horn
- Agrees with Walberg
- Universal health care would force health care professionals to work without adequate payment
Renier
- Notes the "amazing hypocricy" of Walberg-- the state of Michigan gives him free health care
- Pay for universal health care by eliminating Social Security cap of $87,000
- Admits that it's a tax increase, but only on the wealthiest 1 percent-- "Bill Gates has made $87,000 in the time we've been sitting here" and everything after that is currently untaxed.
Hutchinson
- Similar to No Child Left Behind-- "You can't make all students geniuses"
- Must accept that death, illness are a part of life.

Should the federal government work to ensure safe, secure housing for low-income and minority citizens?
Horn
- At the federal level, there's no authority for that
- State, local government offers an opportunity for such work
Renier
- Agrees that it's more a state issue than a federal issue, but feels that more must be done
- If Halliburton, etc. can profit off of war reconstruction, why not profit off of a positive endeavor?
- "Instead of making bullets, make nails to build"
Hutchinson
- States that he agrees with Horn.
Walberg
- Notes that he's always scared by those who want to redistribute wealth.
- From living in Chicago, saw project homes which were later torn down [audience led to believe he opposes housing projects]
- Nation thrives best when left to the private sector to solve problems.

Do you support a withdrawal from Iraq? If not, what future course do you see?
Renier
- Get Iraqis off American welfare
- Not a "cut-and-run Democrat" despite what opponent might say.
- Best thing to do is to get the American face out of Iraq-- we're polarizing figures in the region
- Bring in an international peacekeeping force
- Iraqis won't protect themselves because they know that we're there for them; they'll only take responsibility if they know we're leaving.
Hutchinson
- America should leave Iraq as soon as the American people want it.
- Wrong to blame everything on Bush-- the current situation is the result of a bipartisan foreign policy.
Walberg
- "We too easily forget 9/11" [Audience begins booing], "We too easily forget the bombing of the USS Cole"
- Terrorism still an important issue
- No cut and run, must stay in Iraq
- The Iraqi army is working
Horn
- As he sees it, two options face America-- commit to specific objectives, or immediately withdraw
- A timetable would be no different than withdrawal, but would put troops at risk
- Supports identifying specific objectives to be achieved.

Aren't taxes payment for living in a free country like America? (Audience-submitted, directed at Walberg)
Walberg
- No. In Constitution, the government is responsible for less than it does now.
- Current taxation goes beyond what the country was formed on.
- Rights have been given away
- Big government is all-powerful, and we depend on it for everything-- we shouldn't be "sheep"
- Taxes are a necessity, but current levels are too much; government abuses its money.
Horn
- States that he agrees with Walberg
- Adds that prior to the 16th Amendment, tariffs and excises funded the government, thus limiting power of the government by the strength of the economy.
Renier
- "No one wants taxes" but they're necessary
- Renier plan would eliminate taxes on all those who make less than $20,000 per year
- Notes that government must have a presence because everyone expects help after disasters like Katrina, which are too much for the individual
- Supports a "strong, silent government" that's there when you need it, but not intrusive.
- If Walberg has his way, "big, expensive government on the left will be replaced by big, intrusive government on the right."
Hutchinson
- Country was founded on "No taxation without representation"
- Only people taking part in the political process can stop high taxes
- Urges involvement in party conventions, policy-making

What should the government to help revitalize Michigan's economy?
Hutchinson
- Asks for clarification: "The federal government?" Moderator: "Yes, the federal government." Hutchinson: "Sounds to me like it's Michigan's problem!"
Walberg
- "He's almost exactly right"
- 49 other states are fine, only Michigan has problems.
- Result of high taxes, big government in Michigan
- Supports tax cuts, and letting the private sector act.
Horn
- States that he agrees with Walberg.
- Adds: eliminate all personal, business income taxes.
Renier
- Lived whole life in Michigan, loves the state
- Ought to protect jobs here before they're claimed by outsourcing.
- Personally working with an inventor/businessman (who's in the audience) to bring 2500 jobs to the district.
- Wants to work toward job retraining for those facing job loss.

Name one change you'd like to see in the current immigration policy.
Renier
- Wishes she could have warned us last year about the Katrina trailers, but heads up-- if you want to get back some wasted tax dollars, buy stock in the company contracted to build the fence with Mexico.
- Must prosecute those companies/businessmen that hire illegal aliens.
- Must allow citizenship to those who have followed the law and have waited first.
- Distinguishes between illegal aliens and her experiences with "wonderful" migrant workers-- American citizens and legal residents who "just happen to speak Spanish."
Hutchinson
- Just hit 300 million-- when will it be enough?
- You're not a citizen with rights until you're a citizen. [Note: I'm not sure exactly what his point was with this statement, but he said it with passion, so it must be important.]
- If you want a place in America, you must learn English.
Walberg
- Quotes Ronald Reagan [Note: 3rd time referencing/quoting Reagan], arguing for a fence/wall between US and Mexico.
- Must secure the border; no amnesty; reduce bureaucracy; promote English language.
Horn
- Agrees, and adds: don't just focus on southern border, northern border too.
- Canadian immigration policy is lenient, dangerous people may immigrate to Canada and come across the border.
- Fences both North and South.

Closing Comments

Hutchinson
- Repeats-- not running against the other candidates, but against US foreign policy
- Looking for a genuine debate on "the money, the lies, the war."
Walberg
- Notes his legislative experience-- quotes Alexis de Tocqueville: "America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." [Note: Minor complaint-- Wikiquote says this wasn't actually said by de Tocqueville.]
- Supports life, marriage, and values.
- Claims a consistent record, not "bough and paid for by the good old boys"
Horn
- Lots of similarities between him, other candidates, but some differences.
- Are the differences important enough to you to vote for a candidate who may not win?
- Notes his differences with Schwarz in 2004, and his performance in that election.
- Asks that one vote for the candidate that reflects your values.
- Hopes to "restore America".
Renier
- Notes that she's a member of the NRA and pro-life-- not a "liberal," as Walberg would claim.
- Fiscally responsible-- has to be, considering the low income on which she raises her family.
- With her, "What you see is what you get."
- Walberg was "bought and paid for," only voted no in the state legislature except for his own pay increases-- voted against helping people, for "fattening his own piggy bank."
- Promises to put Walberg's voting record and Congressman Joe Schwarz's FEC complaint on her website.

With that, the debate concluded.

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Comments:
Way to go!!! Im so glad that someone is doing something for Sharon Renier! I love this website and visit it daily.

Nick
 
Wow! Great work, thanks Fitzy!

Man, reading this just makes me realize that Walberg really IS that nuts. Renier did a pretty good job of answering the questions. Based on this and Nirmal's interview with her, she seems like a great candidate. I just hope she has enough oomph to take Walberg out on election day.

Keep up the great work.
 
If I can't vote for Joe Schwarz, I guess I'll have to vote for Renier. She isn't my prefered candidate, but Walberg is far from mainstream.
 
Great job! I wish every voter in the disrict would read this if they couldn't be there.

I hope the Detriot News Libertarian endorsement doesn't take votes from Renier. He's not a credible candiate, he's a good man, but even he say's he's not really up for it.
 
"I think they're telling people not to vote for Walberg because he's a kook," she said. "I think that they've figured out not to vote for him, and they generally endorse Republicans."

Renier's quote from the Battle Creek ENQUIRER regarding the Detroit News endorsement of Libertarian Hutchinson.

She certainly doesn't mince words!
 
Also in this year's race is U.S. Taxpayer candidate David Horn, who continually tells voters to vote for Walberg.

Also, here is the ENQUIRER's last "oh by the way" sentence on David Horn. ie: Walberg's "Mini-Me"

Here's the link:
http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061021/NEWS01/610210313/1002
 
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