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Full debate recap; not much new in April 20 republican primary senatorial debate - Question 7

My government is smaller than your government.
My government is smaller than your government.
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 7. 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 3 – If you are elected, what would be the topic and purpose of the first piece of legislation that you draft.

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

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 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 7 – How will you go about cutting spending?

Richard Behney – Starts out by calling himself the “Tea Party guy.” Said he would like to rip out “all” the spending, however since our economy is on life support that is not possible. Still, nothing should be left off of the table. Cited his business experience and said that the nation must ask what it is willing to give up. Said that nation must make difficult spending cuts.
Non-answer. He says that he is going to cut spending, which is presupposed by the question. He does not say how. Furthermore, while Behney founded the Tea Party, he is not currently involved with its organization and can hardly fancy himself “the tea party guy.” The ‘tea party guy’ is everyone who wants limited, more responsible government.

John Hostettler – Said that spending cuts must be conducted using a layered approach. Pointed out that the philosophy in Congress must change. Said that first you stop new spending, then you stop increases in current spending, then your reduce spending “everywhere except national defense.”
Solid answer. Not quite as specific as I would have liked, but addressed the core issues of step-by-step cuts and a philosophical transformation. Good on him for exempting national defense, however I am concerned that he is using his support for military funding to serve as a smoke screen from the fact that he intents to adopt an isolationist posture a-la Ron Paul.

Don Bates Jr. – Said that the first step is a five percent pay cut from every member of Congress. Then move on to reforming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Good answer. It is not secret that the entitlement programs that he mentioned are in desperate need of reform and the addition of the pay cut is great. Many Americans have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts because of the actions (or inactions in come case) of Congress. It is about time that they pass legislation that affects their pocket book for a change.

Dan Coats – Said we must refrain from any new spending, even if it is good. Repeated that the federal government does too much and a lot responsibility can be given back to the states or the people. Also supported line-item veto as a means of reducing earmarks. Ended by saying that we must include defense funding in the cuts and phrased it in such a way that made it seem like weapons-systems would be a target for cuts in his mind.
If we need new spending that is ‘good’ then we find some that is not as good and we cut it to make room for the smarter spending. You cannot say ‘no new spending, no matter what’ because too many unforeseen things could cause you to eat your words. Just ask George H.W. Bush about unequivocal ‘never’ statements. (Read my lips, I need to fund the Gulf War.) I am with him on the line-item veto and the attack on earmarks. If something needs federal money, let that spending be passed on its own merits in a separate bill. The biggest part of this answer that bothers me was his sudden and deliberate focus on defense spending at the end of the answer. What is his intent; to make decisions about what gear we ‘don’t really need’ to fight our wars? Is he going to go the Obama route of pathetic pay increases that keep soldiers behind the civilian market in wages? This is not to say that there is not a penny that can be cut from defense spending, but the manner in which he phrased his declaration was disconcerting to say the least.

Marlin Stutzman – Said that we should cut earmarks and shrink the bureaucracy by forcing the administrators of the bureaucracies to trim their own fat.
Not a bad answer, but not detailed or specific enough to be a great one.

The Verdict
Top Answer: Don Bates Jr
. – Pay-cuts for Congressmen and entitlement reform. What is not to like?
Honorable Mention: John Hostettler – Covered all the bases and took a stand on defense spending, even if I am skeptical of his willingness to make the tough decisions to keep this nation safe.
Worst Answer Award: Dan Coats – Drew an unrealistic line in the sand and took a stand on defense spending. . . but it is a questionable stand that makes you wonder what defensive cuts he would potentially include.

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

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