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It's business as usual at 1st District forum

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Mike DuPre'
October 22, 2008
— A new face was added Tuesday night in the race for Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District seat, but no new ground was broken when four hopefuls answered questions posed by the Janesville League of Women Voters.

A week ago, Greg Addie, former Janesville city councilman, announced a last-minute campaign as an independent and registered write-in candidate. He joined Rep. Paul Ryan, five-term Republican incumbent from Janesville; Democratic challenger Marge Krupp of Pleasant Prairie, and Libertarian challenger Joseph Kexel of Kenosha in the televised forum.


Addie said earlier that the prime impetus for his 11th-hour candidacy is his opposition to the financial recovery plan recently enacted by Congress, which Addie described Tuesday night as socialism.


The economy

The plan, termed either a rescue or bailout depending on political spin, was the topic of the first question asked at the forum. The candidates' responses:


Addie: Lawmakers of both parties supported the plan because they receive hefty political contributions from the parties responsible for the crisis—large financial institutions, banks and insurance companies.


Both major parties had a hand in creating the crisis, but no one acted to prevent it, he said.


"May our children forgive us for what we did," Addie said. "We gave them (institutions) another $850 billion to squander."


Kexel: He, too, thinks the federal government was at least partially responsible for the crisis through programs stretching back to the Great Depression, but the free market private sector could have and should fix it.


A free market solution should be to have the banks pay for the losses they incurred, he said.


The United States must reduce spending and taxes to improve overall economic health, Kexel said.


Krupp: Ryan and the Bush administration squandered a budget surplus and helped create the financial meltdown with deregulation and sending well-paying jobs overseas.


"Trickle-down economics does not work, and I'm tired of being trickled on," she said.


Subprime mortgage loans should not be allowed, Krupp said, and the $350 billion that remains uncommitted in the recovery plan should be spent on extended unemployment benefits and repairing infrastructure.


Ryan: He wrote the House Republican alternative to the administration's initial, sketchy proposal so that taxpayers would be protected. He voted for the eventually amended and expanded plan.


"It will not prevent a recession, but it was designed to prevent a (stock market) crash," he said. "A Wall Street problem turned into a banking crisis which turned into a Main Street problem. … People couldn't get loans."


The government's intervention was a once-in-100-year event, Ryan said, and more can and should be done to protect taxpayers.


Health insurance

What should the federal government's role be in health insurance?


Addie: Insurance companies should not be allowed to negotiate discounts for the people they cover while uninsured patients pay the full bills charged by health-care providers.


One rate should apply across the board, Addie said.


Kexel: "The federal government should not be involved in health care at all."


Health care should left to state and local governments and personal responsibility, he said.


Krupp: She said health care is a personal and passionate issue for her because her dying brother's last words in the hospital were: "How am I going to pay for all this?"


"If you want real reform, we need new leadership, not more of the same," Krupp said.


Ryan: He replied that he wrote legislation which would have provided universal access to health coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions and that would have provided transparency on the cost and quality of health care so patients could evaluate providers.


Patients and their doctors must make medical decisions, not insurance companies or HMOs, Ryan said.


Energy

What should the nation's energy policy include?


Addie: The United States should open closed areas for exploratory drilling because the nation has plenty of oil and natural gas.


Solar and wind power should be expanded, he said. "The answer has to come from private industry."


Kexel: More drilling should be allowed.


The federal government's current ethanol policy is unfair because it focuses on producing ethanol from corn instead of other, more cost-effective sources of ethanol.


"The free market will give the answer. It should be allowed to work," he said.


Krupp: Tax breaks should be taken from oil companies and the money invested in alternative energy forms.


She criticized Ryan for saying that the United States contains more oil than the entire Middle East. She cited a BP (formerly British Petroleum) review that, she said, concluded: "We don't have anywhere near the oil of the entire Middle East."


Ryan: He countered that the BP study ignores 2 trillion barrels of oil trapped in shale but which now can be gathered through new technology.


Ryan advocated "doing all of the above": more drilling in an environmentally safe way, wind, solar, biomass, nuclear.


"Let's stop consuming all this foreign oil," he said.


Immigration

How should we deal with illegal immigration?


Addie: "That southern border needs to be closed."


After securing the border, the status of illegal immigrants already in the United States should be reconsidered.


Kexel: Enforce the borders and create a guest worker program.


The constitutional provision of birthright citizenship—anyone born in the United States is a citizen—should be changed so that at least one parent is a citizen before the child becomes a citizen, Kexel said.


Krupp: Employers should share the legal responsibility of illegal immigration because they benefit from it and some recruit workers from south of the border.


Deportations should not be allowed to break up families, she said. "I believe in the sanctity of the family."


Ryan: The primary action is controlling the borders.


The legal status of workers must be verified, he said, and "we need a guest worker program to take the pressure off the border, to take the pressure off immigration."


But no amnesty should be granted to illegal immigrants already here, he said.


ON TV

The schedule for repeat telecasts on JATV of the Janesville League of Women Voters' forum for 1st Congressional District candidates is:


-- Saturday and Sunday: 10:30 a.m., 3:30 and 8:30 p.m.


-- Wednesday, Oct. 29: 9 a.m., 2 and 7 p.m.


-- Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 1-2: 11 a.m., 4 and 9 p.m.


The forum runs one hour.


JATV can be seen in Janesville on Cable Channel 98 and Digital Channel 994.



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