6th District congressional candidates talk about bailout, education, health care and energy

October 09, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HALFWAY -- U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., and his two election challengers laid out their views on the financial bailout plan, education, health care and energy on Wednesday.

A Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Plaza Hotel in Halfway brought Bartlett, Democrat Jennifer P. Dougherty and Libertarian Gary W. Hoover Sr. together to talk about issues for just the third time, by Dougherty's count.

The general election is Nov. 4.

"Our government is too big," said Bartlett, who is seeking a ninth two-year term representing the 6th District, which includes Washington County. "It taxes too much, it spends too much and it regulates too much."

Dougherty, the mayor of Frederick, Md., from 2002 to 2006, said voters have a clear choice. If they know someone who lost a job or a soldier fighting in Iraq or a struggling business, they should replace federal legislators who are responsible, she said.


Hoover, making his first run for office, said Bartlett and Dougherty cannot make meaningful change because their parties created a mess in Washington, D.C.

"If you vote for either one of them, then you must like what's been going on for the last 30 years," he said.

Moderator Jeanne Singer asked the candidates a mix of questions they previously had been given and new ones handed in by audience members during the event.

Bartlett said he voted against the $700 billion bailout bill that Congress approved because he didn't think the government's rescue attempt was the right approach.

Dougherty said she wouldn't have voted for the first version of the bill, handing more power to the Treasury secretary, or the second version, which was loaded with pork.

Hoover said the market should have been allowed to take care of itself.

On energy, Bartlett reiterated that the U.S. needs to focus more on energy conservation before the oil supply runs out and must develop alternative fuel sources.

But Dougherty said Bartlett has had 16 years to cause change instead of making speeches about energy.

Hoover recalled President Jimmy Carter, in the midst of an earlier oil crisis, pressing for alternative fuels.

"That was 32 years ago," Hoover said. "Thirty-two years ago. Wake up."

Asked about spending enough money on infrastructure, Dougherty said Washington County needs steady highway funding instead of relying on local sources for federal projects.

Bartlett said he has secured almost $65 million for road projects, but almost all federal transportation money is distributed by a formula, while state funding is flexible.

Hoover suggested trying for Department of Homeland Security money since Interstate 70 would be part of a Washington, D.C., escape route if there were an emergency.

The three candidates were scheduled to gather again Wednesday night at a forum at Frederick Community College.

All three candidates also have committed to attending a candidate event sponsored by The Herald-Mail on Oct. 23 at Hagerstown Community College.

Other issues

Here's what the candidates for the 6th District congressional seat said about a few other issues that came up during Wednesday's candidate forum:

No Child Left Behind Act

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.: The U.S. Constitution says the federal government shouldn't be involved in education.

Democratic candidate Jennifer P. Dougherty: The act needs to be reformed. Local authorities should make decisions, but national standards, with funding, are OK.

Libertarian candidate Gary W. Hoover Sr.: It's "the most ill-conceived, underfunded act Congress has ever done."

Health care

Dougherty: Supports consumer choice. People could buy into plan offered to federal employees, creating competition. Supports universal health care coverage within five years. Those 18 to 24 years old can stay on family plans and those 55 or older can buy into Medicare early.

Hoover: Small businesses create the most jobs. They should be able to pool together for coverage. Open up the plan offered to federal employees.

Bartlett: Eliminate malpractice insurance costs. Favors health savings accounts. Encourage preventive health.

Economic measures

Hoover: Trickle-down economics hasn't worked. "We could have saved money on postage (for mailing stimulus checks) by sending that money to the oil companies."

Dougherty: The 6th District Congress office should have an economic development specialist instead of "just office staff to answer the phone and handle your flag requests."

Bartlett: The U.S. can turn around budget and trade deficits through new ideas and jobs as the world shifts away from using fossil fuels.

-- Andrew Schotz

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