Third District Congressional Candidates, incumbent Republican Adrian Smith, Democrat Rebekah Davis and Independent Dan Hill sparred their way through an onslaught of questions Friday in front of a standing room only crowd at the Broken Bow County Club.
Moderator Mike Groene of the sponsoring Western Nebraska Taxpayers Association introduced the candidates summing up the purpose of the afternoon.
“We hope to learn by the end of the debate who to vote for.”
Questions ranged from the Federal Estate Tax, Social Security, illegal immigration and the Environmental Protection Agency, to asking what would be the first piece of legislation the candidate would go after if elected.
Federal Estate Laws
Rebecca Davis - does not support reverting back to the 2002 standards for the Federal Estate laws. - “The original intent was to keep small businesses intact - we need sensible estate taxes with a sensible threshold,” she said.
Don Hill opposes estate and death taxes. “You either believe you own the property or the government owns the property”,” he said.
Adrian Smith also opposes estate and death taxes. He advocates a total repeal of the estate tax because he feels it is double taxation.
Smith and Hill both oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“Amnesty is the wrong way to go,” said Hill, going on to say that current laws need strengthened and that workplace enforcement is the key.
“Turning a blind eye to the employers who hire illegal immigrants is wrong … you can’t blame the immigrants for wanting to make a better life for themselves.”
Smith supports the need for a fence, but also feels that the laws currently in place need enforced.
“We cannot afford to have policies in place which encourage illegal immigration.”
Davis believes that the intent should be part of the process and that we need a better functioning system in place to enter legally
Adrian Smith says he believes in a state’s sovereignty when it comes to education and healthcare stating that the federal government has overstepped its boundary when it comes to those two issues. He is not in favor of the current healthcare law because it forces an individual to purchase a product just because the government thinks it is best.
“It is stifling creativity,” he said.
Rebecca Davis says she strongly believes we get the government we deserve. She said the secret to having a better government is being involved and electing better representatives.
“We need to advocate for folks to turn up to vote.”
Dan Hill agrees with Adrian Smith when it comes to the role of the Federal government in Education and Healthcare. There are over 800 federal grant programs - congress is attempting to micromanage the states.
“It’s too easy to take federal dollars and spend them in ways we wouldn’t spend “local” dollars - we need to realize they are our dollars. Control needs to be bushed down to the local level. It is a lot easier to change out a mayor or city council member than to change out a president or congress.
Yes and No Questions
The candidates also answered a series of yes and no questions.
Smith and Hill said they would vote to repeal current Cap and Trade legislation, Davis would not.
None would remove the word navigable from the Clean Water Act and all three believe that the deficit is endangering the future of the United States. Each said they would vote yes for a government-wide ban on the federal funding of abortions.
Smith and Hill would vote to repeal the current Healthcare Bill, Davis would not. Hill and Smith would eliminate the Federal Department of Education, Davis would not. Davis would also not vote to extend the Bush tax cuts where Hill and Smith would.
On Social Security, Smith said the United States is clearly on a collision course. He felt we need to encourage citizens to invest on their own and keep all of the options on the table. He would not support privatization.
“The longer we wait to reform,” he said, “the harder it is going to be.”
Hill said she believes in Social Security, because it has served our country well. She believes if we had better uniformity in our tax code we wouldn’t have a problem. “The overhead cost is less than 1 percent,” she said. “You don’t’ see that level in the private market.’
Hill believes we have a problem and would like to see the availability of having individualized accounts. “The government is taking in less than what we are paying out, this is a problem,” he said.
In order to get people more involved in the voting process, Hill believes that we need to change the type of candidate who goes to Washington DC.
If you run for office and don’t show up as a leader you have a problem, said Hill. He also said that he was disappointed with the questions presented at the forum. “Real leaders run toward the problems. Conservatives need to challenge conservatives.”
Smith agreed saying that Nebraskan deserve better government than they have been getting. “I was concerned then (when he was in the unicameral) and I’m concerned now.” He believes the ‘government knows best mentality’ has been coming for far too long.
What would be your first piece of legislation?
When asked what would be their first piece of legislation …
Smith replied that it would be to repeal Obamacare. “The sooner we can reduce unemployment the better,” he said, explaining that there is hesitation from the employers brought on by Obamacare, cap and trade taxes and the repeal of the secret ballot in the workplace. These issues are causing problems. He also pointed out that he spent much of his time fighting bad bills.
Davis said one of the primary reasons she is running for office is that she can no longer sit by without doing something. Her first piece of legislation would go after campaign reform
Hill said that Medicare would be one of his primary concerns because the current structure is going to break the bank.
“In the next 5-10-15 years, the US faces the equivalency of bankruptcy. Are we going to sit by and wait? We need to get rid of congressional pension and healthcare - there is not enough money to bail out the US.”
Why run for office?
The answers to the final question and concluding comments centered on why each of the candidates was running for office and the attributes they would bring to the position.
Davis said she is willing to work for the other side. “We have an alternative to apathy,” she said. “Republican or democrat doesn’t matter. The question is ... are they doing the right thing?”
She entered the race over the Fair Pay act. It had bipartisan support but when Smith voted against the legislation she decided to get involved. “I do not believe that fair pay or the pursuit of fair pay is frivolous,” she said.
Since 1035 only one term has been served by a Democrat. This is the first time there have been three candidates for the Third District in the general election.
Hill said it is not necessarily about how you vote - it is about leadership. Republicans are going to take control but they aren’t going to have 60 percent. Legislation is going to have to be done by caucus. It’s necessary to stick to the facts.
Hill said he entered the race because of concern, grave concern for what was going on. He is asking voters to get informed and to keep your mind open.
Smith said he appreciate the opposition because they come from a different perspective. He said has been honored and humbled to be able to serve. He takes his responsibility seriously and comes back to the district often to talk issues with the constituents. He said he finds this very productive and is grateful for the dialogue. He was influenced by his grandfather, a Democrat, to go into public service.
“We have a participation government where individuals come together, he said. No where did our founding fathers say campaigning for office every two years would be convenient, nor did they say it would be easy.