Congressional candidates go negative at forum

September 30, 2010

— Education, health care reform and climate change were among topics of discussion by candidates seeking the 3rd Congressional District seat at a forum last week.

Democrat Stephene Moore, Libertarian Jasmin Talbert and Republican Kevin Yoder appeared Sept. 21 at the Johnson County Public Policy Council’s candidate forum in Overland Park. The district covers Wyandotte and Johnson counties and includes a part of Douglas County. The incumbent, Dennis Moore, is not seeking re-election.

Yoder said it was important to elect someone who would not support “the status quo” of greater government spending and regulation and raising taxes.

“I believe our country is off-track,” Yoder said, noting the national debt, unemployment levels, layoffs and other factors. “ … Things are very, very challenging in this country right now economically, and I think we have to change course. Washington is not helping.”

Talbert admitted she had no political ties or experience, but she said it was time for someone with that type of background to be elected.

“We need to put somebody in office who’s not afraid to make the hard choices, make the deep cuts that do go against the status quo and may not be very popular,” she said.

Stephene Moore, Dennis Moore’s wife, said she was not a career politician either, and she promised to work as a moderate with members of both parties.

“People want quality, good-paying jobs; they want our government to live within a budget just like we do here in our own homes in Kansas; and they want to ensure that our children have quality public education,” she said. “I know that I’m the only candidate in this race that will get the job done for the people in this district.”

Tax cuts, health care

Candidates were first asked whether they would support extending the tax cuts passed by Congress in 2001 and 2003, often called the Bush tax cuts, which will soon expire.

All candidates said they would support an extension. Talbert and Yoder both said they supported making the tax cuts permanent. Moore was more tentative, saying the government should extend them but should wait and see what is going to happen with the economy.

On health care reform, Moore said the reform act was an important start. She disagreed with repealing the act because she supported how the act helped insure those with pre-existing conditions, provided tax incentives for small businesses and allowed children to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26.

Yoder said he wouldn’t have voted for the health care bill and didn’t agree with something that didn’t receive bipartisan support, so he supported repealing it and replacing it.

Talbert agreed she would repeal health care reform. She said she liked the idea of providing everyone access to health care, but she didn’t think it addressed out-of-control spending. She said she wanted a system based on free enterprise.

Climate change

Another difference in viewpoints concerned how to address the issue of climate change and energy production, including the system of cap and trade, a proposal that would limit overall emissions linked with global warming while allowing flexibility in how businesses comply.

Moore said she would support cap and trade, because like health care reform, she saw it as a starting point. She said Kansas should capitalize on wind energy production.

Yoder said he doesn’t support cap and trade because he believes it will hurt the economy. He said a comprehensive energy plan was needed.

Talbert said she didn’t support cap and trade because she doesn’t like getting people to change through punishment rather than incentives. She said the government should give tax incentives and price breaks on green technology.

One of the areas all candidates agreed on was not reinstating the No Child Left Behind Act. Candidates also agreed that they would not support a second stimulus act suggested by President Barack Obama.

Moore and Yoder took time in many of their responses to make negative points about each other.

Moore often made a point that the state budget Yoder suggested would have slashed education funding and noted that he voted to raise sales and income taxes in 2003. She also said he would support outsourcing of jobs.

Yoder said Moore had supported the tax increase at the state level this year and would vote for Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House if elected, supporting higher taxes and more government spending.

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