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Iraq war, taxes are key issues in U.S. House race

October 27, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The race for Pennsylvania's Ninth District seat to the U.S. House of Representatives pits Republican incumbent Bill Shuster, running for a third full two-year term, against Tony Barr, a political newcomer who won the Democratic nomination as a last-minute write-in candidate in the May primary.

One issue expected to play a significant role in many races across the United States in the general election on Nov. 7 is the war in Iraq. Shuster has largely supported the Bush administration's policy while Barr said America should end its combat role.

"Right now, we're stuck in the middle of a civil war," Barr said recently. The goal of toppling Saddam Hussein has been accomplished and no weapons of mass destruction were found and "it's time for us to get out," Barr said.

"The Iraqi people will never stand up unless we stand down," said Barr, who likened U.S. involvement there to Germany or France trying to intervene in America's Civil War. "We had to put ourselves back together" after that conflict, he said.

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"If we don't prosecute the war to a victorious finish, we'll be very, very sorry in the future," Shuster said. "These Islamic fanatics ... want to re-establish a caliphate throughout a core part of the world."

"We're going to be in Iraq for sometime, although not necessarily on the front lines," Shuster said. The Iraqi people need continued American assistance to establish political institutions, security forces and a strong economy, he said.

On the economy, Shuster said it is important for Republicans to maintain control of the House and the party's tax policy.

"If the Democrats take control of Congress, there will be a $210 billion tax increase on the American people, because they will not extend the tax cuts" Congress passed in 2001 and 2003, Shuster said. If those cuts are allowed to expire at the end of 2010, he said, "a family of four earning a combined income of $50,000 will have a tax increase of $2,000 a year."

"Who would you rather have spend that $2,000, the federal government or you?" Shuster said. "If you raise taxes, I believe you're going to see the economy slow down."

Barr said the federal government needs to change its health care, energy and education policies to promote a healthy economy.

"We need to have health care for everyone and Medicare for everyone," Barr said. That would be less expensive than what taxpayers now do, footing the bill when the uninsured go to emergency rooms.

America needs to produce alternative domestic sources of energy that create jobs at home rather than "give our billions to countries that don't like us," Barr said. No Child Left Behind, while well intentioned, is about teaching students to take tests rather than learn the skills they need to succeed in life, he said.

Shuster, 45, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., was elected in 2001 after his father, Bill Shuster, retired from Congress.

Barr, 37, of Claysburg, Pa., is an 11th- and 12th-grade special education teacher in Bedford County.

The position pays $$$$$$ a year. The Ninth District covers all or parts of 16 counties, including Franklin and Fulton.

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