Wednesday, October 22, 2008

debate coverage

Unfortunately, only the first hour is available at present-- and it's not yet on-line (although it was streamed live by VU).

But there was nice coverage of the debate in the C-J and the IDS...

Excerpts from Lesley Stedman Weidenbener's article in the C-J...

A debate about the so-called "fair tax" and the "flat tax" emerged as one of the largest differences among the three candidates running in a rematch in the 9th Congressional District....

The candidates also disagreed on congressional term limits, with Sodrel arguing they're a good idea and Hill saying they're unnecessary.

"We've got term limits now and they're called elections," Hill said.

Term limits shift power away from elected officials and to lobbyists and bureaucrats because lawmakers can't build up power and expertise, Hill said.

But despite the fact that he defeated Hill four years ago, Sodrel argued term limits are necessary, in part because incumbents are able to raise so much money they become nearly unbeatable.

He got a laugh from the crowd when he said there are three parties in Washington, D.C.: Republicans, Democrats and incumbents.

"America has a deep enough bench," Sodrel said. "We don't have to have the same people serving for two generations."

Schansberg said he could support term limits. But he said the debate about that issue misses the larger problem that Republicans and Democrats are too much alike and aren't taking the steps necessary to get spending in check and reduce the size of government.

"We need to go back to a place of fiscal sanity," Schansberg said. Term limits "don't really speak to that."

And from Lauren Clason in the IDS...

The audience at Tuesday night’s congressional debate was small, but the crowd was fierce.

Once the candidates for Indiana’s 9th Congressional District dealt with the pre-written questions from the participants on stage, they had to face inquiries from the local residents themselves.

Issues such as abortion, energy, the national language and the appropriate tax system had constituents’ patience stretched to the breaking point. One man lashed out at what he said is corruption among politicians and groups like the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and a Bloomington resident argued with Democratic incumbent Baron Hill on abortion.

But the main concern was the effects of the current tax system and its repercussions.

“I would support either a flat or a fair tax, either would be better than what we have now,” said Libertarian candidate Eric Schansberg, who is also an economics professor at IU-Southeast New Albany.

Republican candidate Mike Sodrel said he is also in favor of either tax, although he prefers a fair tax, which he said would help knock out foreign market competition....

Hill favored the current system, saying the fair tax and its goal for revenue neutrality would drive the deficit up.

When it came to the state of the economy and one audience member’s retirement fund, he believed things would soon get better.

“Some economists are saying we’re going into a depression, but I don’t think that we are,” Hill said. “If you can hang on, I think eventually it will all come back. These things are cyclical.”

Schansberg agreed things won’t get as bad as some might fear.

“Unless the government does a lot of the bone-headed things it did in the ’30s, we won’t go there again,” he said.

One thing all of the candidates agreed on was the bailout plan...Schansberg agreed, commending Hill for his vote against the plan.

“When the Republicans are leading the charge for that kind of spending, who’s left?” Schansberg said.