Thursday’s District 2 Republican Debate

For those still looking for information on the candidates in the Republican Primary in the Second Congressional District, here is a report on a portion of the debate held last week in Warwick where moderator Russell Moore of the Warwick Beacon asked candidates Bill Clegg, Michael Gardiner and Mark Zaccaria about their positions on the basic issues that a Congressman will have to deal with. The links next to the summaries take you to the audio of the candidates’ answers. [Disclaimer: I arrived to the debate a few minutes late, so I missed the first few questions]
Question: What is your position on health insurance reform and specifically the reform that was passed earlier this year?

Gardiner: Obamacare is intended to move people to a ‘public option’. The US needs to create a nationwide market in health insurance through something like the uniform commercial code. Tort reform is necessary, but at the state level.
Zaccaria: Obamacare will crush the healthcare system as we know it. US needs to create a legislative environment where a marketplace in healthcare can operate. The ultimate goal should be some kind of health savings account, plus insurance that is available nationwide.
Clegg: Obamacare will send costs through the roof and uses bogus accounting. Solutions at the state and regional level need to be tried, before nationalizing healthcare. Insurance should be available across state lines.
Question: The Federal government deficit is approximately 1.3 trillion dollars. How would you address this problem, and can this problem be addressed without curbing entitlements or raising taxes?
Zaccaria: The deficit has to be managed without increasing taxes. Federal managers have to be asked to manage and deal with smaller budgets. Certain kinds of entitlement relief are necessary, including changes to social security where individuals retain control of their contributions.
Gardiner: Social Security is a foundation element of our lives. Improve the economy and raise payroll taxes so more money can be contributed to SS. Quit wasting 5% of GNP on healthcare spending.
Clegg: Social Security is a sound system, if not looted by Congress. Opposes privatization of Social Security. Raising retirement age by one year and reducing the annual cost-of-living increases would solve the shortfall.
Question: What is your position on immigration reform, and should the birthright citizenship provision of the 14th Amendment be modified?
Gardiner: Fence the border. “Comprehensive” immigration reform is code for not doing anything. Can’t round-up 12 million people, so grant amnesty instead. Birthright citizenship is a wrong interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, but it can be changed through Congress.
Clegg: Proper border security will reduce the problem, but Congress so far hasn’t given the necessary funding. Rewarding people for breaking the law undermines the rule of law and shouldn’t happen. Previous amnesty did not solve the problem. Fourteenth Amendment has been misinterpreted, judges that understand this need to be appointed to the court.
Zaccaria: “Comprehensive” immigration reform is an attempt to institutionalize the current lack of immigration law enforcement. Problem is economic in nature and a combination of border security and employer enforcement will reduce it. Supports taking a lawsuit to the Supreme Court to clarify the Fourteenth Amendment, but immigration needs to be solved in a shorter amount of time than amending the Constitution will take.
Question: Do you think free-trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA are good for the U.S., or is free-trade a bad thing that sends our jobs overseas?
Zaccaria: Free-trade works on a level-playing field, but NAFTA and CAFTA give advantages to businesses outside of the U.S., that don’t have to meet our OSHA or minimum wage requirements.
Gardiner: Free-trade does lower prices and helps raise the standard of living, but current system is not fair; other nations do not have the same environment and workplace safety regulations that the U.S. does.
Clegg: U.S. was built on free-trade and should keep trying to build a real free-trade system. However, current free-trade agreements have resulted in things like the World Trade Organization ordering the U.S. to pay cotton subsidies to Brazil. Congress should be working to correct this, but isn’t.
Question: Are we on the right path in Afghanistan, or is Republican National Chairman Michael Steele correct when he says the war is unwinnable.
Clegg: Afghanistan is not unwinnable, but what is our national objective there? Trying to make Afghanistan into a modern democracy is going down the wrong path. Mission should be training, and keeping enough of a presence to be effective against al-Qaeda in the region.
Gardiner: Fighting in Afghanistan is very expensive. We’re spending money in appropriations bills for costs related to the Vietnam war. We have got to have less war, and put the money to a different use, like building nuclear power plants.
Zaccaria: Mission creep is degrading our ability to do what we say were are going to do and contributing to a pattern of endless war. National command authority needs to be revised, to be more focused on what the military can and cannot do.
Question: Public pension plans are severely underfunded all over the country. Do you agree with the op-ed written by John Loughlin last year, who suggested a Federal bailout of state and local pension plans?
Clegg: We shouldn’t depend on others, including the Federal government to bail us out for our own errors. We need to elect officials who will say “no” to unrealistic spending demands.
Gardiner: Federal government should offer “bridge loans” to the states, for instance to help with pension reform or regionalization.
Zaccaria: Bailing out the states is not a Federal function. Previous bail-outs have failed to produce any long-term reform.
Question: In the interests of government transparency and freedom of the press, would you support a Federal shield law?
Clegg: No to a shield law. Journalists don’t need any special protections different from what others have.
Gardiner: Thinks that Jim Taricani’s stand was courageous, but hasn’t taken a definite position on a shield law.
Zaccaria: Gives credit to Jim Taricani for not revealing his source, but that is part of the risk that goes with the job of being a journalist. No to a shield law.

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David P
David P
11 years ago

A journalists’ shield law should be narrowly tailored to advance public policy. If a source discloses to a journalist that he has knowledge of illegal or unethical activity then the journalist should be able to protect that source’s confidentiality without fear of imprisonment.
However, if the disclosure is itself a crime, then the journalist is a material witness and I don’t think he should be protected. And this was the case with Jim Taricani. Joe Bevilacqua disclosed the Corrente tape to Taricani in violation of federal law concerning the secrecy of grand jury materials. The law shouldn’t, on the one hand, seek to protect the grand jury process by barring disclosure of evidence and, on the other hand, facilitate violation of that law by allowing people to leak grand jury material to the press without fear of discovery.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Clegg, Gardiner and Zacharia, otherwise known as Moe, Larry and Curly.
OldTimeLefty

David P
David P
11 years ago

How fortunate we are to have someone like OTL to raise the level of discourse on this site. Lord knows all of us ignoramuses (ignorami?) on the right couldn’t string two sentences together to save our lives.

Sammy
Sammy
11 years ago

No questions on the ALL IMPORTANT Social issues ?
The 3 G’s…God…. Guns..and Gays?
Inquiring minds, need to know
Also,would they charge rape victims….
for rape-kits??
like Sarah Palin did

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

David P,
As to raising the level of discourse, I count the president’s last name being used more than a dozen times as a prefix in articles submitted by AR’s blogstaff. You can count dozens more in submissions by people commenting on this site. Katz leads the way with five instances, two in “Primary Night”, two more in “Maybe I’m too Cynical”, and once in “So That Nobody Has Been Warned” Chartier, not to be outdone, uses it 5 times in “Arriving on TrackOne, Obamacare …”, Morse goes for the hat trick in Thursday’s District 2 Republican Debate” when quoting the Three Stooges in their debate.
Two can play the same game, so I joined in the spirit by invoking Moe, Larry and Curly. You are being very selectively sensitive. I’m sure that you are capable of stringing two sentences together, but you obviously have to work on stringing two thoughts together.
OldTimeLefty

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Andrew,
What intellectual value do you attribute to ideas expressed by poking malicious fun at someone’s name when what you are very consciously doing is lazily defining a program and throwing it out as raw meat to your small constituency?
OTL

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

You pick your Morse-als carefully as you Katzerwaul around the subject, wandering aimlessly. You need a Chartier to assist your Comtois state.
OldTimeLefty

David P
David P
11 years ago

OTL –
If you want to make fun of politicians be my guest. Most all of them deserve it. But the term “obamacare” isn’t meant to mock anyone. It’s simply a shorthand used by commenters left and right to refer to a policy with which the President has associated himself and which he has made a personal priority going back to the days of the campaign.
Maybe the Republican candidates in the second district are stooges. I don’t know as I haven’t followed that race very closely. But simply to call them Moe, Larry and Curly with no pretense of an argument is beyond childish.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

David P
Until you can point out the use of Obama as a prefix in a non pejorative way anywhere in this blog you have no point.
OldTimeLefty

David P
David P
11 years ago

What exactly is perjorative about “Obamacare?” One either favors the legislation or he doesn’t. Calling it Obamacare just associates the legislation with its most public proponent, like Romneycare or Clintoncare.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

David P,
Have you ever used the phrase “Romneycare” or “Clintoncare”? I have never seen it. Help me out here.
Is the corollary to Obamacare, RepublicansDon’tCare?
OldTimeLefty

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