By RYAN TRARES
Daily Journal of Johnson County
The candidates for Indiana’s 9th District seat in Congress have sparred for the past five months over the best ways to create jobs, stimulate the economy and rein in debt.
But on Tuesday night, incumbent Republican Todd Young and Democratic challenger Shelli Yoder exchanged ideas face-to-face in their first debate of the campaign. The candidates traded ideas, strategies and a few barbs during the debate conducted at Franklin College. They clashed on job creation, health care, energy policy and funding for Planned Parenthood.
Young and Yoder, both Bloomington residents, are vying for Indiana’s 9th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The winner of the election will represent Southern Indiana — including Clark and Floyd counties — for 2013-14.
Young has held the 9th District seat for the past two years. He is a military veteran and attorney and has served on the House Budget Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. He was among those responsible for overseeing the process of creating a spending budget for the federal government, setting how much money would go to every government program and office. In this role, he said, he was able to witness some of the inefficiencies and problems that he said are crippling the country’s economy. Young said the way to foster business and make new jobs is to scale back regulations and let the free market work.
“This campaign can be summed up in one word — trust. Are we going to trust our large, interventionist government to get our economy running? Or are we going to trust the American people,” he said.
Yoder agreed that the power to spark jobs lies with the people. She advocated more support for entrepreneurs and small businesses as opposed to big corporations. Public-private partnerships could be used to foster innovative new businesses in green energy and biotechnology. Where government could help would be to invest in infrastructure, including improving bridges, ensuring airports are sound, and helping get broadband technology to all people.
“It’s become a social justice issue that people have been cut out of the 21st century because of where they live,” she said.
While job creation has been the central point for both candidates’ campaigns, the initial question at the debate dealt with their approach to health care.
Yoder threw her support behind the Affordable Care Act, relaying her discussions with voters throughout the 9th District. She talked about how the legislation ensured that people who otherwise would not have received care were able to get the treatment they needed.
“Families and individuals are being helped by the patient protections by this amazing piece of legislation,” she said.
But while the legislation did help the uninsured, it also took money out of Medicare, taxed medical devices and imposed new costs on people, Young said. Worst of all, it took away some people’s ability to choose their insurers. That was why he had been part of a repeated effort to repeal the act.
“We were promised that everyone who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. We now know that isn’t true,” he said. “We also have to get our fiscal house in order so there are sufficient resources to invest in the future, instead of investing in government programs that are growing at an uncontrollable pace.”
Discussing the threats to the country, Yoder mentioned cyber-terrorism.
“We have almost no protection against cyber threats. It could mess with so much of our infrastructure, our banking and financial institutions, our way of life,” she said. “This Congress decided to go home and campaign instead of taking care of this very important security question.”
Young agreed that cyber-terrorism was important but brought up what he said is a more pressing matter — the national debt.
As the debate came to a close, both candidates returned to the issue of job creation. Young stressed how he would support small businesses with fewer regulations and less government involvement to get the economy humming again. He told a story about a couple in Seymour who fought through government bureaucracy and red tape to open a small brewery.
“Even during this difficult time, people are dreaming big dreams and working hard to make their dreams come true,” he said. “This is how jobs are built in this country.”
Yoder focused on moving the country forward. Instead of repealing laws and undoing progress that had been made in recent years, she would work to ensure America’s middle class again could prosper.
“The middle class for too long has gotten squeezed. We’re not getting squeezed out, we’re getting squeezed down,” she said. “We don’t want a handout, we want a hand up. We want a level playing field.”