Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, and Democratic challenger Kevin Boyd agreed Friday evening that the United States should enlist allies, pursue diplomacy and impose sanctions before going to war against another country.
They differed on most other issues during a freewheeling but civil debate at IPFW’s Rhinehart Recital Hall.
A clear contrast came when the candidates were asked whether employers and their insurance companies should have to provide coverage for contraceptives as stipulated by the federal health care law.
The government is forcing entities such as Catholic schools, such as small businesses, to provide health care to their employees. That should be a choice between the employer and the employee. That should not be a mandate by the government, said Stutzman, a LaGrange County farmer and former state lawmaker.
I think there has to be a standard for insurance as we move to insure more people, said Boyd, a Presbyterian minister in Fort Wayne and an insurance company employee. And to let each individual employer decide what will be covered and what won’t be covered for their employees actually is more of a feudal system where you have serfs and lords who rule over it.
The debate sponsors – IPFW and its Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics and WFWA PBS 39 – and moderator Jeannette Dillon stuck to a format that stressed short, specific answers by the candidates on a wide variety of topics.
Should the health care law be repealed or amended? Boyd said he would work to fix it where it needs to be fixed, but not repeal it. Citing the $1.7 trillion cost over 10 years of the Affordable Care Act, its new taxes and the way it was shoved through Congress, Stutzman said the law should be repealed and replaced.
There are parts of it we can keep, said Stutzman, who was elected to the House in 2010. Those things can transfer to a new process, to a new bill.
What should Congress do to improve the northeast Indiana economy? Stutzman endorsed revamping the income tax code so it flattens tax rates. Boyd pushed for a Democratic jobs bill blocked by congressional Republicans and more money for infrastructure.
Boyd charged that federal lawmakers haven’t passed any infrastructure improvement acts. Stutzman pointed out that Congress this year approved a surface transportation bill that will increase Indiana’s share of revenue.
Should the Bush-era tax cuts be allowed to expire? Boyd said yes, especially for people who earn more than $250,000 a year. Stutzman said, We should try to protect every American from tax increases, not just one bracket or another.
But later, Stutzman said he favored letting President Obama’s payroll tax cut expire. That tax funds Social Security.
What industry should northeast Indiana embrace for future jobs? Boyd named advanced manufacturing, such as new battery technologies. Stutzman mentioned advanced manufacturing and life sciences.
What program should the government eliminate to reduce the federal deficit? Stutzman identified energy subsidies and direct payments to farmers, while Boyd said Republican efforts to increase military spending should be thwarted.
Stutzman slipped when answering a question on Iran.
President George W. Bush talked about the axis of evil, and Iran was one of those countries, along with Venezuela and North Korea, he said.
Bush’s axis of evil in 2002 included Iraq, with whom the U.S. went to war, not Venezuela.
In any case, Stutzman said, We must stand with Israel against Iran and its nuclear ambitions, and we should not be counting on the United Nations to be leading in this endeavor.
Boyd countered, While we do need to protect our ally Israel, we cannot allow Israel or any other nation to dictate the foreign policy or military policy of the United States.
Stutzman shot back, I do not believe we should let Israel dictate our policy, but we should be standing with Israel when and if a case ever comes up where Israel would have to defend itself against Iran.
About 150 people attended the debate. The candidates sat in chairs behind a table. Boyd, who ran for Congress in 2006 and for City Council in 2011, had surgery recently for a foot infection and was wearing a medical boot.
The 3rd District covers the northeast corner of Indiana and includes 10 counties and parts of two others.