12 questions for District 19 candidates; election Tuesday
On Tuesday, voters in Broward and Palm Beach will head to the polls to replace U.S. Congressman Robert Wexler in the 19th District, who resigned effective January 4, 2010. Three candidates have stepped up to replace the outgoing Democrat: Ted Deutch, Edward Lynch and Jim McCormick. BrowardNETOnline.com had the chance this week to sit down with all three candidates and ask them a few questions in advance of the elections. In addition to the questions below, you can learn more about the candidates at their respective Websites (all in alphabetical order).
1) Tell us briefly about your background and how that qualifies you to be a U.S. representative. What do you bring to the table that is unique?
Deutch: I’ve spent 20 years as a business lawyer and involved in the business community. I’ve spent all my adult life working for organizations, volunteering for community organizations that help seniors and kids live decent lives. I’ve spent thepast four years in the Florida state senate where worked across the aisle with Republicans and Democrats to deliver results—I’ve stood up to special interests and have gotten things done. That’s what people want—they want Congress to put people first and that what I’ve always done.
Lynch: My experience in having a business, in the number of people I’ve hired, creating jobs, fighting against the federal government, that’s experience others don’t have. We don’t need another attorney as a politician in Washington D.C.—there are enough of them.
McCormick: I’m a Florida native—the only one in race, a small business owner, father and I think right there that should give me a very good reason to run for U.S. Congress. I’m tired of the out of control spending in Washington, with no plans for reducing the national debt. I decided enough with that and that I was going to run.
2) Have you read the health care bill in its entirety? Tell us briefly what you like or don’t like about the bill. Once in office, how will you help your constituents understand its impacts?
Deutch: I did read the health care bill. I like that for seniors it’s going to close the donut hole and make prescription drugs more affordable, crack down on insurance company abuses, provide coverage for 100,000 people in the district who don’t currently have any and provide tax credits to help small businesses provide health insurance. I hope at this point, rather than going through another nasty debate about whether to repeal all of worthwhile provisions, I hope to work to help create jobs, not spend another year working on health care when what we ought to work on is helping to create jobs.
Lynch: I’ve read all three versions and various versions in-between. Congress has two jobs—one to educate constituents what a bill means and then listen to what they say. This health care bill is not about health care—it’s about control and power for the federal government. It’s going to decimate care for seniors, plus we can’t afford it. The bill has to be repealed. I understand we need affordable health care. Our plan costs nothing—allow companies to sell across state lines, eliminate pre-existing and introduce competition—a pool and spread the risk.
McCormick: I have not read it in its entirety, though I’ve skimmed through most. It is a really tough read and we weren’t told really what was going to be in it till the end—we had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it which frightened me as a voter. You would never go to a car dealership, pay for a car and then tell me what car I’m going to get. The fact that it cost nearly a trillion dollars—they gave the CBO (Congressional budget office) some very generous numbers, but when it all comes down to it, it’s going to cost 2-4 times what they say it will cost. Truly this will eventually ration senior care. If you cut 500 million, the doctors stop taking it, and they will not have choice. There are some good things in it—children on parents’ insurance until 26, annual wellness visits for seniors, closing the donut hole, but it wouldn’t cost if negotiated with drug companies, which the administration is not doing.
3) Obama just opened new areas for offshore-drilling, right off the coasts of Florida. What is your stance on this issue? How will you work to ensure minimal impacts on our coastlines and tourism? Do you think we should be doing this or should we continue to focus on investing in sustainable energy solutions?
Deutch: I’ve actually worked on these issues (by) filing legislation in the state senate to slow down this rush to drill three miles off our coastline without first learning what the potential impacts would be on our coasts and our economy and that’s the same thing we ought to do on a federal level. Before we rush into a decision to drill, we need to know whether the tourism industry in Florida is at risk (it’s a deep part of economy) before going forward. So many businesses are growing around solar/wind/biofuels, we ought to be focused on encouraging that growth. We need to become energy independent and stop relying on oil altogether—it’s already started and that’s where the focus ought to be.
Lynch: First of all, if you are talking drilling, it’s not impacting Florida. We’re looking at feasibility, and it will be past 12 miles from shore—no one will see it—it won’t impact tourism…..but we should definitely look at sustainable to—we have too—like the solar energy generating plany in DeSoto County that provides energy for 3,000 homes and cost $150 million. There’s nuclear energy. You can see Turkey Point from Miami Beach and it hasn’t hurt tourism at all. We have to use our own resources.
McCormick: Tourism is our biggest industry, right up there with construction, but it should have no problem with offshore drilling. There are very, very, stringent regulations and the companies take extra precaution to make sure there are no issue. We haven’t had a rig spill in I don’t know how long. With Katrina, none of the rigs spilt a drop of oil. They’re going out three miles from one rig in all directions and it makes common sense to be tapping resources here at home. That’s the first place we need to start, then as time goes on, slowly move into renewable—wind, wave generation and all kinds new technology in a smart fashion like a business would.
4) Concerns have been raised about your predecessor not being active in his district. Will you spend more time communicating directly with constituents in your district? What can we expect in terms of open communication?
Deutch: Again, this is where I have a record. I’ve served in the state senate for four years and my office is busy all day, every day providing constituent services. I live in West Boca Raton, and I will be home every weekend and every day not in session. I’ll be home so much, they’ll get tired of seeing me, I’ll be so accessible.
Lynch: We do this every day. Our office is open to the community. They call and we take care of a lot of issues constituents are facing—we’ve already been helping people and we plan on living here.
McCormick: Sure. I’m a proponent of a new plan out there called “Bring Home the Politicians.” They want to use current technology to allow Congress to communicate from various districts and state … stay here in this district which has a number of advantages—the cost of travel, seeing constituents is not a problem and national security. Terrorists can’t attack just one target if they spent most of their time in the district not Washington. I don’t think Wexler represented our district as much as special interests, and he’s recommending someone do same. He said he was doing something with Middle East peace, but what he’s doing with it. He wouldn’t leave his post in the middle of his term and cost thousands for a special election if there wasn’t something shady.
5) What is your stance on issues related to Israel? How do you feel the current administration is handling the situation? And what would you do differently?
Deutch: My position, and again, I have a record of accomplishment, is not just political, it is personal. I’ve been a leader in the pro-Israel community since high school and wrote legislation in the state senate to crack down on Iran. I was recently invited to speak in front of 8,000 people in Washington D.C. about pro-Israel activities. Currently, the administration should focus more on stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons than pressuring Israel to stop building in Jerusalem. I look forward to being leader on these issues in Congress just as have been whole life.
Lynch: The current administration and anyone that supports it is doing a serious injustice to use. It’s an insult how they’ve handled it. They’ve imposed a most stringent standard against Israel if the dare build on their own property. And with Iran, they’ve talked economic sanctions and it’s clearly not working, but they’ll take weapons away from Israel.
McCormick: The current administration is showing it’s lack of experience with Israel. We should be trying to get people together and learn to negotiate with those parties instead of trying to tell those parties what to do. The current administration is muscling Israel, but not pressuring Palestine and we should pressure both evenly. Israel should not give up an inch of land—let Israel decide what Israel wants to do and stop meddling.
6) Immigration is a huge issue in South Florida. Do you support amnesty or deportation? How will you address this issue so that taxpayers aren’t carrying those unwilling or unable to contribute to the system?
Deutch: Right now, the fact is, the taxpayers do wind up carrying the burden. What we need to do is bring those here illegally out of shadows and acknowledge they are here and reform the system to make sure those shouldn’t be leave the country, and those here and productive members and pay taxes, they move to the line and establish a process. I don’t support amnesty or rounding up 11 million people and putting them on barge out to sea—we have to take a rational approach. We have to look at the whole immigration issue, including secure borders and cracking down on employers who knowingly violate the law.
Lynch: Immigration is not a problem—illegal immigration is a problem in Florida—it cost about $3.4 billion last year, which was the budget shortfall. I don’t support amnesty—my grandparents came here legally and worked hard. We’ve been seeing a ton of attrition from the unemployed, but we need to secure the borders. Anyone who has done something illegal, then deport them because a $100 one way ticket is cheaper than the prison system.
McCormick: I think the current system does not work the way it should, so we need to fix the current system before talk amnesty or about illegals here. No amnesty to people who came here illegally, or are currently criminal. We need to document the people who are here—the business owner, home-owners that are part of society and get them integrated by issuing the proper permits with a plan how to go forward in compliance with whatever new regulations are set forth for legal immigrations. We’re giving benefits to illegal immigrants that come over here such as Social Security that Americans have paid into 30-40-50 years. I do not see why the US pays everyone else who comes here and gets free benefits. We should have temp assistance that runs out for them, than they have to have a job or make some tough choices.
7) How will you use your position to help improve the local school district? What changes can be made at a federal level to improve schools, both in education and safety?
Deutch: First of all public education is key to economic success. I’ve spent the past month and a half fighting this terrible legislation in Tallahassee that will require more tests for our kids and pay our teachers less money than they are receiving now. I have a long history of standing up for public education in the state senate. My opponents believe the Dept. of Education should be shut down, but they play a critical role in addressing the ability of our kids to compete and in ensuring safety in schools, both issues that are key in Broward County.
Lynch: We need to get rid of the federal Dept. of Education and put a little bit of that money investing in a solution—but the only thing that will work is getting parents involved. Nothing else matters.
McCormick: I think one of the problems is getting the Federal government out of the education system. It’s a state right. We can set national standards, but don’t use funds allocated to the state in a blackmail sense. Allow the states to make those choices and fund the education system however they see fit. Ronald Reagan once said, if you don’t like your state, you can vote with your feet, but we won’t be able to because every state will be the same.
Why should voters trust you after all the corruption we’ve seen in our county recently?
Deutch: I’ve fought legislation in Tallahassee that gave legislators the ability to collect limited money from special interests. I have vowed to take action in Congress to help overturn recent Supreme Court decisions that give corporations the ability to fund campaigns. I’m the only one who has talked repeatedly about getting special interests out of politics so Congress can listen to constituents.
Lynch: Because I’m one of them. I’m not a politician. I’m going to Washington D.C. to fight, not to become a part of the political class. My opponent’s going because he’s part of the system, and will do what Obama wants. I want to fight the political system and stop them from running rip shod over citizens. I’ve taken on several federal agencies with personal hardship because they were wrong.
McCormick: That really is a rough question because how do you know anyone. You don’t trust anyone, just give someone a rope and keep an eye on it at all times. Someone like Wexler was away, not even living in this state, and he did what he did because people weren’t paying attention. People are getting more knowledgeable and becoming more awake. I am a small business owner and I always pay my bills. During this whole campaign, I’ve told the truth and not about to start lying now.
9) Did you support the stimulus package? How has the stimulus impacted or not impacted Florida? What projects are underway in Florida that you know about?
Deutch: As member of the Florida Senate who has to balance the state budget, I can tell you firsthand that the stimulus package and the billions of dollars that Florida has received, helped balance the budget. There are thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers doing jobs today who would be out of work without the stimulus. I know the important role it played in making sure kids are taught and the streets are safe. Before the stimulus, the economy was shrinking and now it’s growing at almost 6 percent.
Lynch: I didn’t support any stimulus, whether it was under Bush, and the latest stimulus I didn’t support at all. I knew it was all folly. We gave money to the federal government who takes out their cut to pay off special interests. The federal government has no business stimulating the economy. I’ve not seen the projects, nor jobs saved except for adding more federal jobs to the roll. That’s not creating a job, that’s creating an entitlement.
McCormick: I did not support, and I still don’t—I don’t think it’s done much of anything other than fund some areas that didn’t need funding anyway. I don’t know any project that the stimulus had impact on get economy moving. All I’ve seen is a website that isn’t reporting correct facts. The definition of shovel ready comes into question – if it was, it was already fully funded since states can’t run a deficit. Let the free market take care of itself. Capitalism is a good thing, just legislate the best way we see fit to stop corruption and hold Congress accountable for what they do as well.
10) Have you reviewed the last few years’ federal budget proposals? What are your thoughts?
Deutch: I think every dollar Congress spends ought to be justified. I think we spent billions of dollars on a war in Iraq that we shouldn’t have fought and now we’re fortunately looking at troops coming home from Iraq. The money going towards Iraq can be used help pay down deficits and debts. The Democrats in Congress are the only party who has had a balanced budget under Clinton, so it’s back to fiscal responsibility.
Lynch: I constantly review it all the time—they’re not all that different. This year’s budget is the same as last year’s budget except it’s jacked up with COLA (raises). We need to start with zero. We don’t know the money coming in and out—and it’s nothing but graft and political payback. If we’re talking about Medicare, we need to talk about the money to investigate fraud. We also need to stop the use it or lose it attitude—I saw it at the VA when they would buy wheelchairs and walkers just to throw them out because if they didn’t use the funding, they would not get as much the following year.
McCormick: Part of the federal budget, it gets allocated how the president wants it allocated. I don’t think anyone has gone through the federal budget in quite some time and decided what we don’t need. Currently there is a $12.7 trillion debt and still no plan how to reduce that debt. We don’t need to just snip, but come in with a machete and cut that budget. The president took a good step with PAYGO (pay as you go) legislation, but said he’ll do it in 2011. It’s like saying I’ll go on a diet tomorrow—it’s probably not going to happen. Then they call for a two percent increase for federal workers—my wife has not had an increase in 3-4 years, I’ve not had one, but in this deep recession, to give that kind of increase to federal workers shows they don’t really get it.
11) How do you feel about our international strategies? What do you like or dislike? What would you change? What is your stance on Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan?
Deutch: A nuclear-armed Iran is the greatest threat not just to Israel, but to allies in Europe and this country. It is such a national security issue. The president made the right decision to move forward in Afghanistan, though I’m concerned about the government’s commitment to support its people.
Lynch: I don’t ever believe in telling your game plan to your enemies. One of the most moronic things I’ve ever heard of is to tell your enemies that if they attack, we won’t attck, even if you mean it. Like Afghanistan, we said troops would be out in 18 months. Even if that’s a goal of the administration, they’ll just lay low for 18 months. The president’s policies are absolute folly, especially with Israel.
McCormick: I don’t think we have a very good plan foreign relations wise except for maybe Iraq—we’re finally coming to the end of what has been a long, long war, but need to let Iraqi government take control and move forward in that direction. With regards to Iran, the current government is not giving Iran enough sanctions or (they extend days or drop them). We need to stop up. As for Afghanistan, I’m even sure if we know why we’re there. Initially, it was to root out terrorists, but we’ve found them. I don’t remember establishing a government there being a part of the plan. That’s my thing—make a plan, finish it. Our boys need to come home. They have more and more restrictions on rules of engagement and they have none. We need to stop being the world’s police and bring our boys home.
12) Anything else you would like to mention that we haven’t gone over?
Deutch: No, I think you’ve covered it all.
Lynch: I believe that this election will set the tone for the national tone for the upcoming elections. It’s important that people’s voices start to be heard and not politicians. We need to hold politicians accountable.
McCormick: People say they want a change in Congress—that they want a regular guy, not a career politician. That’s me …and we need more No Party candidates to stop the partisan things going on now. If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will pay if we don’t get the debt under control, a clear-cut foreign policy, and oil independence. We’re approaching 90 percent of our GDP (gross domestic product) and if we do that, it will decrease (America’s) credit rating, our interest rates will go up and we will have serious problems at the point. Stop increasing spending or putting a value added tax to everything we purchase—we tax everyone for everything and it’s a huge burdens on senior who have to cut back even more than they already are because the federal government needs more money. They’re not looking to stop spending, but to get additional money. I find irresponsible and a very bad thing.
- Deutch wins congressional seat
- An Interview with Edward Lynch (R), Congressional Candidate, Florida District 19
- Congressional candidate Lynch disputes Deutch endorsement
- Early voting starts today in special election for Wexler’s seat
- Election dates to replace Wexler set
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Thank goodness for the sensible voice of Ed Lynch. We in Florida are fed up with career politicians, especially when they are only going to DC to toe the party line. Ed Lynch has been vetted by iCaucus and will be held closely to that high standard.