BLOOMINGTON, IND.--Recently enacted Affordable Health Care legislation seemed to touch the biggest nerve in audience members who attended Monday evening's debate among Indiana 9th District candidates Baron Hill, Republican Todd Young and Libertarian Greg Knott.
Loud applause and a few groans and catcalls broke out when Hill, a Democrat and the current 9th District representative, said he was glad he had voted for legislation that, among other things, enables Americans with preexisting health conditions to obtain insurance. But even louder applause erupted when Young claimed the bill, which Knott termed a "monstrosity," would be funded by $500 billion from the Medicare budget and would lead to increased costs and premiums.
During the hour-long debate in front of a packed house of more than 600 people, the candidates answered questions posed by a moderator about issues ranging from campaign finance to Social Security reform and energy legislation. Here are some of the key points from the debate.
• Hill criticized the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows corporations and interest groups to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns. He proposed that Congress require corporations to get permission from their stockholders before spending their money on campaign ads. Young deferred to the court, saying corporations have a right to free speech, but said he would be open to asking stockholders and union members for permission to spend money on political campaigns.
Knott encouraged his opponents to sign the Fight Washington Corruption pledge, which would overturn the Supreme Court's decision.
• On the issue of extending Bush-era tax cuts, Hill said he was in favor of extending the cuts for people who make $250,000 a year or less, while Young said he would not support a tax increase and preferred to postpone the discussion until the country is out of its current economic slump. Young called the Democrat-backed Pay-As-You-Go Act or PAYGO, which requires Congress to offset tax cuts or increases in entitlement spending, "a ruse for spendthrift politicians." Hill, who voted for the measure, said PAYGO has a proven record.
Instead of tax cuts, Knott proposed cutting spending on the military and on subsidies to large agricultural businesses.
• Hill accused Young of wanting to privatize Social Security for people 55 and younger. Young denied the accusation, calling Social Security a "sacred compact." He said Hill's campaign ads criticizing his alleged stance on Social Security were not true.
Hill said he had signed a pledge not to privatize Social Security and handed Young a piece of paper asking him to do the same.
• The candidates disagreed on energy policy with regard to global warming, with Young and Knott questioning whether global warming is caused by human activity. Hill argued in favor of a cap and trade approach that he said would decrease carbon emissions, increase carbon taxes and bolster energy independence; Knott and Young said such a bill would kill jobs in coal-dependent Indiana.
• Young, a former U.S. Marine, said morale and battle readiness might be compromised if the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuality in the military were eliminated.
"Call me an old-fashioned Midwesterner, but sexuality is not a part of workplace discussion," he said.
Knott and Hill both favor repealing the law.
• On U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, Hill, who has visited the region, said U.S. troops were making progress in working with the Pakistani army. He said he trusted President Obama to start bringing troops home next year.
Young called Obama's withdrawal timeline arbitrary and political.
"If we're going to be there, we need to be there to win," he said.
Knott said the troops need to come home immediately, and military spending should be cut and invested in education.