Raw Video: Debate reveals contrasts among 4th Dist. GOP candidates on education, tea party

05/01/2012 06:00 PM

The seven candidates running in the 4th Congressional District Republican primary on Monday carved out different positions from each other over federal funding for higher education and preschools as well as the direction of the tea party.

They appeared at Northern Kentucky University at a forum sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Below is more than one hour of raw footage from the debate showing how the candidates interacted over congressional pensions, education, Social Security, taxes and the tea party movement itself.

Part I — Highlights of term limits and congressional pension discussion:

  • Thomas Massie says he will give the federal government his pension payments back, if elected (4:09 of the video) and explains why. Tom Wurtz calls that “political theater” (5:03) and says turning down benefits only encourages “rich millionaires” to run for Congress. Alecia Webb-Edgington says even state pension participation is mandatory for state lawmakers (6:02) and Marcus Carey breaks down the federal pension system (6:40). Massie responds (7:43).
  • Massie and Gary Moore would not self-impose term limits. The other five would. (Each candidate states his/her position between 0:01 and 4:08.)

Part II — Brent Spence Bridge discussion:

Earlier in the day, Republican Congressman Geoff Davis wrote that he was frustrated at the pace of the new Brent Spence Bridge construction. The project needed $65 million by this summer for the next design phase but the state legislature appropriated only $44 million.

None of the candidates favored tolls to help pay for a new Brent Spence Bridge, although Walt Schumm said he could support tolls in “public-private ventures” if a private company wanted to help finance the bridge as a last resort. (4:35)

Part III — Federal tax reform

  • Wurtz calls tax loopholes “crony capitalism” (0:40) and most of the candidates advocate some variation of reforms that include lowering the corporate income tax rate but closing such loopholes.

Part IV — Highlights of federal education funding:

  • (3:40) Four candidates — Moore, Webb-Edgington, Schumm and Brian Oerther — say they want the federal government to continue funding Head Start programs that help low-income children get pre-school education. Massie, Wurtz and Carey say no.
  • Massie argued that home environments have a bigger effect on students’ future capabilities than pre-school educations. And he said “big government has contributed to” the number of split homes. (5:30)
  • Oerther (3:50) and Webb-Edgington (7:35) come down on the side that it’s much less expensive for taxpayers to fund early childhood education on the front end than pay the cost of prisoners, who are typically less educated. To Massie, Webb-Edgington added: “I do not believe the federal government is forcing people to get a divorce.”
  • Massie says he would advocate for Northern Kentucky University but not for government funding because “if you’re asking me for pork tonight, I’m here to tell you the pig has been picked clean.” (0:25)
  • Wurtz also says the federal government only manages to “screw up” education funding (2:30). “All we’ve done is throw trillions of dollars down a rat-hole,” he said.
  • Webb-Edgington said she strongly opposed a state bill to allow the independent University of Pikeville to become a public university because of the effect it could have on NKU (1:15).

Part V: Highlights of discussion of student loan rates and Social Security:

  • Schumm explains his opposition to keeping interest rates on federal student loans at 3.4 percent (0:20). Wurtz elaborates on that position (1:16).
  • All of the candidates agreed that Congress should allow the rates to go back to 6.8 percent (2:27)
  • Each of the candidates gave his/her position on whether the retirement age for Social Security should go up and whether the system should implement means testing in which the wealthiest retirees would receive the least in benefits. (Discussion starts with Carey at 3:08)

Part VI — Debate over the tea party and Pell Grant discussion:

  • Watch how the candidates react to a question submitted by audience member Erin Parker, who asked how many of the candidates considered themselves to be part of the tea party movement (2:40).
  • Carey responds to Massie (3:12) by saying the tea party has been “co-opted” by a group that just wants to support Ron Paul. And Moore agrees that the movement has been “hijacked” (4:14). Massie responds at 6:05.
  • NKU President James Votruba submitted a question about the Pell Grant and G.I. Bill programs aimed at access to college, and he aimed it at the candidates who called for keeping the government out of education — Massie, Carey and Wurtz. (0:01 to 2:00).
  • Schumm favored changing the Pell Grant system (2:01).

Part VII — Closing statement highlights:

  • Moore takes a couple jabs at Massie (starting at 5:00) over economic development in Lewis County, although he doesn’t name Massie.
  • Massie calls himself “probably the most fiscally conservative person in this race” (1:15).
  • Webb-Edgington says looking at candidates’ education level is important (7:00).

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