By DANIEL SUDDEATH
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Indiana’s 9th District U.S. House race pits a self described grassroots challenger who supports national health care and ending tax cuts for the wealthy against a fiscally conservative incumbent who backs what some consider strict budgetary measures to balance spending.
Republican Todd Young is seeking his second term in the House, while Democrat Shelli Yoder is attempting to unseat the incumbent and serve for the first time in Congress.
During a debate in Corydon last week, Yoder said she’s reached out to residents and learned of their concerns through talks in town squares, parades and festivals around the 9th District.
“I celebrate grassroots movements, and that’s exactly what this campaign is about,” she said.
During the same debate, Young said people want tangible plans as to how their elected officials propose to go about fixing the economy and creating jobs.
He said it’s not enough to simply criticize the opponent.
“This election is about trust,” Young said.
Obviously both candidates want to represent the 9th District for the next two years, but their views on several key issues are different.
Young voted to repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act multiple times while serving in the House, though the legislation was upheld in the Senate.
He said health care reform is needed, but that the Affordable Care Act fails to lower costs and that’s the most important issue when it comes to medical coverage.
There are new taxes with the legislation and premiums could rise by as much as 75 percent when the individual mandate begins in 2014, Young continued.
“There are a number of different problems with the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
Yoder supports the act, and has criticized Young for his votes to repeal the legislation. She said instead of looking back and attempting to tear down that which was created, Congress should be focused on improving health care.
“We can make this very important legislation work for the American people,” she said.
Medicare has been linked with the health care debate. Yoder has criticized Young as she’s labeled him a supporter of privatizing such services as Medicare.
Young has countered that many important programs for seniors such as Social Security and Medicare are running out of money, and something has to change in order for them to be sustainable.
“We need to reform how the largest programs of government work so they can remain,” he said.
In her 10-point jobs plan, Yoder proposes turning the 9th District into a leader in clean and green technology, increasing funds to re-train unemployed workers and to bring together business leaders to create a regional job creation strategy.
She said she would push for more support for university and private research that could lead to more well-paying jobs. Private funding isn’t always enough to back such initiatives, Yoder said, as she added the government needs to play a role in developing technology for manufacturing and industry.
“Who’s going to make sure that we’re on the cutting edge of research,” she asked.
Indiana needs good infrastructure, strong educational facilities and a skilled work force to lure more manufacturers into the state, Yoder said.
One way for the government to afford more funding for research is to end the Bush-era tax cuts for people earning $250,000 or more annually, she said.
Ending the tax cuts to boost the economy and middle class is an idea that divides Young and Yoder. He said even Obama has over the past two years encouraged congress not to raise taxes when the economy is down, which Young added is still the case.
Eighty percent of small businesses in America file under the individual tax status, which means they are susceptible to an increase in levies for those earning more than $250,000 a year, Young said.
He proposes simplifying the tax code while tightening loop holes and “tax shelters.”
The country also must address its deficit if the economy is to ever truly rebound to pre-recession levels, Young said.
“In recent years, I think Washington has gotten in the way by creating more uncertainty in the economy,” he said. “We need to come up with a detail specific and workable plan to ultimately reduce the size of the annual deficits that we’re running then pay off our debt.”
Yoder is also calling for an end to tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and for protection of student loans and grant programs.
She recently criticized Young for his vote to reduce the number of Pell Grants offered to pre-stimulus levels.
Iran and national defense
The U.S. must persuade Iran that it’s serious about preventing the country from obtaining a nuclear weapon, Young said, as he added that’s the only way diplomacy will work.
“We need an administration that’s very serious about sending unambiguous signals that every option is on the table,” he said.
The Obama administration sent mixed signals about Iraq, and now the Middle Eastern country is now susceptible to Iranian influence, Young said. He also has criticized Obama for his relations with Israel, as Young said the administration’s relationship with America’s ally has been clouded with uncertainty.
Yoder said the country isn’t interested in a “decades long war against Iran” after what has transpired over the past 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with troops finally coming home.
“I know for sure that we are war fatigued,” she said.
Diplomacy is the answer in Iran, Yoder continued. She said an attack by Israel or the U.S. against Iran would likely only delay their capability to produce a nuclear weapon by two to four years.
To protect and improve the country, Young said she would focus on home-building and domestic issues.
“And make sure we have a strong middle class,” she said.