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Full debate recap; not much new in April 20 republican primary senatorial debate - Question 3

How small should government be?  

THIS small.
How small should government be? THIS small.
Photo courtesy of the Indiana Daily Student. Thanks Indiana Daily Student!

What follows is a full question-by-question recap of the April 20 debate between the five republicans competing for the right to hammer Brad Ellsworth in November. Read carefully and then check out the story about the debate being hosted by the Indianapolis Tea Party coming up on Saturday, April 24.

There will be no candidate introductions in this article. If you want to know biographical information, visit their websites. Links will be included for your convenience.

There are 10 questions. Each one will have its own article. This is question 3. The others will all be linked to here:

Question 1 – What does representative government mean to you and what is more important to how you will vote; the will of the people or your personal convictions?

Question 2 – What are you going to do about the lack of bipartisanship in Washington?

Question 4 – Are taxes a viable way to get out of debt and do you think limited government can exist in modern day American?

Question 5 – Would you support the recently signed treaty with Russia?

Question 6 – What is your stance on assault weapons bans, concealed carry reciprocity and a national gun registry?

Question 7 – How will you go about cutting spending?

Question 8 – By what parameters would you decide to support a nominee for federal office?

Question 9 – What is your view on NAFTA and other free trade agreements that allow American business to send jobs overseas and get tax breaks?

Question 10 (Final) – What makes you exceptional over the four other people that makes you worthy of our vote?

This intro will precede each question.

The Scoring System
Each question will be shown, then the responses summarized in the order in which they were given during the debate. The best two answers will then be selected along with a worst answer award. Here are the criteria:

1. First and foremost, they have to actually answer the question. Recitation of talking points will be counted against the candidates.

2. Originality will play in as well. Obviously many candidates have similar views, but if they explain them in a clear personal manner they will score higher than if they rely on buzzwords like “Reagan” or resort to repetitive attacks on the latest health care bill.

3. Delivery is key. The senator we elect must not only vote the way we want, but they must be an advocate of our views. If the candidate cannot speak in a relatively non-hostile environment like this past debate without bumbling and tripping over their tongue, we cannot expect them to articulately advocate our views on the floor of the Senate.

4. Honesty is also critical. If the candidate’s response is disingenuous male bovine excrement or attempts to tactically skirt the truth of a candidate’s history on a particular subject, the candidate will be called out.

5. Last but not least, the quality of the politics behind the answer. Answers that pass the common sense test and will truly help America being the healing process from the disease that is liberalism will get the highest marks.

Disclaimer- Unless contained in quotes, the candidates’ answers are paraphrases. Also, this is my subjective assessment of the candidates’ performances. I am not working on the campaigns of any senatorial candidate and I am truly undecided as to who I will support. That being said, I have by biases against certain candidates on certain issues and those will come into play.

Question 3 – If you are elected, what would be the topic and purpose of the first piece of legislation that you draft.

John Hostettler – Said that his first bill would have to deal with the deficit. Said it would have to balance the budget. Acknowledged that this would incorporate many different issues.
Since the question asked what the first piece of legislation he would draft was going to be, and he addressed a subject that was overarching and would have to incorporate dozens or pieces of legislation, this was basically a non-answer. Instead he threw out a please-everyone talking point that fails to distinguish him from any other republican.

Don Bates Jr. – Pointed out that the Bush tax cuts are set to expire next year and allowing them to expire would amount to the largest percentage tax increase in history (something I fact-checked and found evidence to support). Said that his first legislative priority would be to make the Bush tax cuts permanent to help rejuvenate the economy.
This is a great answer. He addressed a greater overall issue of rejuvenating the economy, but actually takes a principled stand to satisfy the spirit of the question, picking a topic that would be covered by a single piece of legislation.

Dan Coats – Said that he would propose a constitutional amendment to require the federal budget to be balanced in the same way that the states must balance theirs.
As common-sense as it sounds, the idea of a balanced budget amendment is not all vodka and cherries. Economist overwhelming declare that such a measure would destabilize the economy, aggravate the business cycle extend recessions and ultimately result in higher taxes. Coats probably knows this but felt compelled to throw this out there as a crowd-pleaser. For shame.

Marlin Stutzman – Echoed Coats’ sentiment about a balanced budget amendment and condemned Coats for voting to increase the debt ceiling.
Like I said, the BBA is a BAD idea. Stutzman may not know this. Either he does know it and is being disingenuous, or he does not know it and he should learn a lesson about recklessly echoing the answers of the guy he is running against.

Richard Behney – Ranted briefly about “too much legislation” before saying that his first order of business would be repealing the health care bill.
A damn fine idea and something that has to happen eventually. However, even if republicans win majorities in both houses this fall, they will not have a veto-proof majority and thus could not actually repeal the bill until Obama is replaced.

The Verdict
Top Answer: Don Bates Jr. – Answered the question with articulately and with conviction, and picked a target that could likely be passed. Enough democrats are inclined to support this move and those that survive the November bloodbath will be eager to
Honorable Mention: Richard Behney – He started his answer a bit off target but ultimately answered the question by providing a single piece of legislative action that he would work for. The only reason he did not win top answer is because the repeal will never be signed under Obama, so making it his first legislative priority would be a waste of time.
Worst Answer Award: Dan Coats and Marlin Stutzman – Another tie. Both candidates gave a single proposal but it was a terrible one. Suggesting a balanced budget amendment reflects either ignorance or dishonesty.

Check out the other questions by following the links at the beginning of the story!

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