Vote 2012: Congressional District 9 Debate

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A live half-hour debate for the candidates seeking to represent Arizona’s new Ninth Congressional District. The candidates are Vernon Parker (Republican), Kyrsten Sinema (Democrat) and Powell Gammill (Libertarian).

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to this special vote 2012 edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Tonight's show is a debate. We'll hear from candidates running to represent Arizona's 9th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. As with all of "Arizona Horizon" debates this is not a formal exercise, it's an open exchange of ideas, an opportunity for give and take between candidates for one of the state's most important offices. As such interjections and at times interruptions are allowed provided those that are interrupted get a chance to respond. We'll do our best to see that that happens. This is a new congressional district located entirely in Maricopa County. It includes Tempe, and parts of Phoenix, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Three candidates are in the race to represent CD-9. They are Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema, a former state legislature, Republican, Vernon Parker, a current councilman and current mayor of Paradise Valley, and libertarian Powell Gammill, a retired microbiologist, who's making his fifth run for Congress. Each candidate will have the opportunity for a one-minute opening statement. We drew numbers to see who goes first. That honor goes to Powell Gammill.
I differ from the other two candidates because I'm not here to rule over you but to advocate for our personal freedom. I live by a single principle, that it is wrong to initiate force or fraud on others. And I expect everyone else to live by that same standard. That is what the founding fathers were trying to give us, a system that maximizes personal liberty and profit and minimizes the cost to optimize our life by providing the freedom to keep and enjoy the fruits of our labors, and not to let a bunch of thugs in fine suits come along and steal from those labors by rule and confiscation. Tonight is really about the only two choices you have. You choosing who rules over you or you choosing not to participate in that process. It's wrong to initiate force or fraud upon others.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. For the next opening statement we now turn to Kyrsten Sinema.
Good evening. Thanks so much, Ted, for having us here this evening. I'm running for Congress because I believe Congress is no longer serving we the people. All across this great country, folks are struggling, especially here in Arizona, to get jobs and keep jobs and take care of their families. We have a Congress more interested in political bickering, taking partisan ideology swipes at each other and solving real problems. I believe we deserve better. Across the state folks who don't have jobs are trying hard to get them and make it to the middle class. Folks who have jobs are struggling to keep them and prepare for their kids' future. We need folks who are willing to work across the aisle to help solve problems. I have a record of doing just that. In the seven years I-served in the Arizona state legislature, I built a reputation of working across the aisle with folks on both edges of the political spectrum to solve problems. Folks like Mo Udall and Barry Goldwater provided great opportunity for us to fill those roles and carry on that great tradition in Arizona.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. Our final opening statement is from Vernon Parker.
Vernon Parker: Thank you all for tuning in. Our country is going through some very difficult times. We have out of control spending, we have unacceptable unemployment. When I served as mayor I had to make some very difficult decisions to one, raise taxes, or to cut our spending. I worked with Republicans, Democrats and Independents and we cut our spending by 30% and our town was better off for it. If you send me to Congress I promise you that I will work across the aisle to work with Republicans and Democrats to make sure that we get America back to work, that we get the middle class back to work, and that we have a health care system that is second to none. Education system that is second to none. That we restore the $716 billion that have been raided from Medicare. I promise to work and put the American people first and do not put Republicans or Democrats in front of the American people. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. Let's get to it here. Krysten we'll start with you. How best do we create jobs in Arizona, in America?
That's an important question. I put out a 12 point job plan that talks about specific ways that Congress can help create a better job climate in Arizona and throughout the country. We don't have time to talk about those 12 points but I will mention a few. First right now companies actually get tax rewards for shipping jobs overseas which leaves Americans out of jobs and short changed. I want to switch that tax code around so we provide tax incentives to businesses that hire folks here in America. Number two, I want to support businesses and give them tax credits and incentives to hire veterans who have served our country and have great skills we can put to use here in Arizona. A third example, the research and development tax credit. When I served in the state legislature I helped shepherd through a research and development credit that brings highs tech, high wage jobs to Arizona. We need to do that federally in the long term to bring those jobs right here to America.
Ted Simons: Vernon, how best to get jobs in Arizona, in America?
Vernon Parker: I have a 16-point plan. Maybe mine is four point better than Ms. Sinemas, I don't know. However, the first thing we should do is we should freeze the current tax rate. If we do that, Ted, we would put $4,000 in the pockets of middle class Americans. The second thing, we must become more competitive on the global scene. We can no longer have the highest corporate income tax in the world. Right now we're in the high 30s. If we lower our corporate income tax to 22% we will create 2 million jobs here in America. Also if we reinvest, make sure that the research and development tax credits, if they are extended by 25%, another 500,000 jobs. The next point is I fully support building I-11 from Las Vegas to Phoenix because that will create jobs. I would also advocate that we keep Luke Air Force base open. That provides 17,500 jobs to this economy with a $2.2 billion, which Ms. Sinema proposed we shut.

Ted Simons: Respond to that, please.
Kyrsten Sinema: Not accurate at all. Actually this is something I find offensive. My Grandpa is an Army veteran. He served in World War II, got a purple heart. My dad served in Vietnam. I have a big brother who served in the Marines and little brother who is currently serving in the United States Navy as a gunner's mate. So, lots of guys in my family are military and I have a strong record of supporting military families and veterans. In fact I'm the only candidate this evening who has a record ongoing Luke Air Force base. Over the course of seven years in the state legislature I voted eight times to protect and preserve Luke Air Force base. Unfortunately -- [speaking simultaneously] Just another piece of -- [speaking simultaneously]
Vernon Parker: Did you ever advocate closing Luke Air Force base?
Ted Simons: Did you advocate to close Luke Air Force base?
Kyrsten Sinema: In 2002 when I was first running as an independent, I grew up in a Republican family, so it took me a while to become a Democrat.
Vernon Parker: Green party or independent?
Kyrsten Sinema: Independent. When I was younger I had thought based on some information I was told it would be a good idea, but my brothers taught me the most important thing we could do is to keep those jobs open. That's why I passed legislation to protect military families and veterans throughout this state.
Ted Simons: Al, I want to get you in on this, creating jobs in Arizona and in the country.
Powell Gammill: Seriously, this is how reduce the debt that we're in is keeping an Air Force base open? Come on. Jobs. How do you get jobs into the state? Jobs are created when businesses have surplus money and needs. They almost always have needs. How do they get surplus money with the federal government ripping them off left and right with high taxes got to basically go in there to gut that. My personal opinion is we eliminate all federal taxes and corporate taxes at the federal level. See how good the banking skills of these two are now. Before you jump on that, the other thing I would like to jump on is we need to get rid of all the regulations and mandates that government puts on businesses that crushes the life out of them. You do that, you suddenly have surplus money, in those businesses, they will start to hire people.
Ted Simons: Vernon, the idea of supply side economics, some would argue that why would we return to that particular ideology, philosophy, what have you. When some see that as one of the reasons we had the great recession in the first place. How do you respond to that?
Vernon Parker: I respond by saying that we must be very competitive on the global sense. Once again we cannot have the highest corporate income tax in the world. We must reduce our corporate income tax. Our number one export now, we are exporting jobs to China, we are exporting jobs to India, and I firmly believe that in order for us to be more competitive that we must take a look at our current tax structure.
Ted Simons: What do you think about the idea that cutting taxes is best way to stimulate the economy and that the idea that tax cuts will eventually pay for themselves?
Kyrsten Sinema: Some tax cuts make a lot of sense. For instance I support the bush tax cuts continuing for middle class families. Because right now, Ted, those families are struggling just to put food on the table, get gas in the tank, and prepare their kids for the future. But Vernon and I have a fundamentally different idea how to help middle class families get back on their feet. He suggests the number one way is to cut corporate taxes. I think the number one way is to support middle class families. For instance, I believe we should stop the bush tax cuts for the richest 2% in our country. If we continue those tax cuts for the richest 2%, it will add $1 trillion to our country's deficit over ten years. I don't think we can leave that for our kids and grandkids. That's not the legacy we want to create for them.
Ted Simons: What about that top end tax rate?
Vernon Parker: Let me respond. Ms. Sinema, she has proposed in the past that we raise taxes on middle class families who make $75,000 or more. She has also proposed that we tax services such as barber shops, hair dressers, and she proposed we tax plastic bags 25 cents per bag. That will put an enormous burden on middle class families. Look, when people talk about let's not cut taxes, when you cut taxes on people making $200,000 or $250,000, those are small business owners. Those are LLCs, though are S-corps. They are paying at the individual rate, they are hiring Americans. So the notion that someone who makes $200,000 or $250,000, that they are rich and wealthy and that they should not receive tax breaks, that's unimaginable.
Kyrsten Sinema: Well, for one thing I would like to respond to is just to clarify my record. In the seven years I served in the Arizona state legislature I never once voted for a tax increase on middle class families. I think the record is very clear. But Vernon has highlighted a real difference between us. He wants to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans and I think we need to give toes to middle class families and those struggling to get to the middle class. You know Ted, when I was a kid my dad lost his job and we ended up homeless for a few years. We worked hard to make it back to the middle class. If it had not been for programs like the low end tax credit that help folks like me with Pell grants we wouldn't have made it.
Vernon Parker: Just 30 seconds. The reason why she did not raise taxes is because the legislature was and is controlled by Republicans. So she never had the opportunity, but she had advocated tax increases. That's a little unfair to say that she didn't vote for tax increases because she never had the opportunity to.
Kyrsten Sinema: I do believe --
Vernon Parker: Would you raise taxes in the federal government?-
Kyrsten Sinema: I do believe that the richest 2% in our country should pay their fair share and I think most Americans would agree we should pay our fair share.
Ted Simons: Respond to that because we've heard that in the presidential debate and debates all around the country. The idea that $250,000 plus a year folks need to pay more of their share should pay more of their share. Valid?
Vernon Parker: Those are individuals that people -- you must understand this. Those are individuals, small business owners who have S-corps and LLCs they pay at the individual rate. They hire people, Ted, so if they are taxed at that rate they won't have the resources to reinvest into our community. They won't have the resources to create more jobs. So it's unfair to tax those individuals who are supplying 90% of the jobs in this country.
Ted Simons: Quickly.
Kyrsten Sinema: He's doubling down on trickle down economics which doesn't work.
Vernon Parker: She's doubling up.
Kyrsten Sinema: I'm worried about the folks that are teachers, nurses, doctors. He's worried about millionaires and billionaires. It's just a real big difference between us.
Vernon Parker: I don't think people who make $250,000 who hire many Americans across this country can considered to be a millionaire. That is totally incorrect.
Ted Simons: Get in on this.
Powell Gammill: All right. One, I never got a job from a poor person. So don't take away their money and expect rich people's money an expect jobs to go up. Expect it to go the opposite way. Secondly no corporation or business in this country pays any tax. All those taxes that you woo-hoo out there we're sticking to the rich, sticking it to the corporations, guess what? That gets passed on to the products that that company manufactures. So it effectively you are basically taxing yourself when you sit there and cheer the business man getting hammered.
Ted Simons: All right, we move to health care. Would you have voted for the affordable care act?
Kyrsten Sinema: Ted, I would have voted for it. As many folks in Arizona know I worked hard to help shape that law to make it fit Arizona's needs. I'm the first to say this law is not perfect. There's a lot of stinkers in that legislation but there are important parts of the law that must be protected. Protection for kids with preexisting health conditions like autism or down syndrome, for folks diagnosed with diseases like breast cancer so they don't get kicked off their insurance. What we need is not a repeal. First of all that's not very practical, it's not likely to happen. What we do need is bipartisan action to come together and fix some of the parts of the law that don't work well for America's small businesses and families.
Ted Simons: How would you have voted?
Vernon Parker: I would not have -- look here. This topic is very personal for me. My wife, she had third stage breast cancer. We lost our insurance because we could not afford it. But she recovered, and she recovered, why, because we have the best doctors in the world, the best health care system in the world, but it's not affordable. The affordable care act did several things that I believe went too far. For example. it's too expensive. It will cost us $2.6 billion. But the one provision that I think is just reprehensible is that it robs Medicare of $716 billion. When I get to Congress I will fight to make sure that those cuts are restored and third, this is a single -- we are going to have bureaucrats in Washington D.C. destroying the doctor-patient relationship, telling us when we can see doctors, how we can see them. Fourth, I'm sorry, but fourth, look, it will destroy small business. Never before in American history have we said if you hire more than 50 people and they work more than 39 hours per week you will be penalized.
Ted Simons: Too intrusive, too expensive, too damaging to small business.
Kyrsten Sinema: A wholesale repeal of the law is neither practical nor realistic. We need to work together to create more affordability for mid size businesses. Businesses between 50 and 200 employees. One thing I want to point out that I was concerned about what Mr. Parker said, it's a story repeated over and over in the media and been debunked as a lie from the beginning. That is the cuts, the massive cuts to Medicare. The affordable care act cuts out waste, fraud and abuse. I would think we would agree we all want to cut that out of our system. The concerning thing is his support for the Romney Ryan budget. He recently said that he supports their approach to entitlements. Now that budget would voucherrize medicare and cost seniors like my grandma $6400 a year. And my grandma can't afford that increase.
Vernon Parker: I'm on record, I have never said that I supported the Romney Ryan budget. I have never said that. Let's get back to this health care. Look. I agree with certain aspects. One, that we should be able to purchase insurance for our children up to the age of 26 and God knows we need it now because these kids do not have jobs. Two, we must address preexisting conditions. Now, in order to drive down those costs we must, must be able to purchase insurance across state lines but this is a very important point. Doctors, they practice defensive medicine. When my wife had third stage breast cancer we had to pay for the tests an so we told the doctor. The doctor said you need this test, this test and this test. I said, I have to pay for this. He said you don't need this one and this one. I said why did you prescribe it? He said I'm afraid I will be sued. That's not medicine. That is --
Ted Simons: Okay. Powell, why don't you get in on this.
Powell Gammill: Health care. Is there any greater example for why the constitution and the federal government are completely at odds with one another? The constitution is supposed to limit federal government. There's nothing in the constitution about health care or permitting Congress to pass health care laws but they do all over the place and mandates. A, I would have voted against it, and I think this shows more of a difference between myself and the other two candidates than any other issue because I completely oppose the federal government having any say in any aspect of people's medicine,e specially the mandate provision.
Ted Simons: Social Security, should it be privatized, contributions going to stocks, these sorts of things? Medicaid, should med there be a radical relook at these programs?
Kyrsten Sinema: That's a great question, Ted. This is another area where Vernon and I differ. Earlier this year he told a tea party audience that he was interested in the Romney Ryan budget as it relates to entitlements.
Vernon Parker: That's not true.
Kyrsten Sinema: There's three areas where that really matters. That's Medicaid block payments. Block payments to Arizona would cause us to lose more than half the funding for health care in Arizona. That hurts Arizona's kids. It also means that those tax dollars are going to other states. That makes no sense. If Arizonan's are paying those taxes we should get those dollars back. In terms of Social Security and Medicare these are very personal to me. My grandmother was widowed when she was in her early 20s in Tucson. She raised three kids on her own working minimum wage at Fur's cafeteria in south Tucson. When she retired all she had was Social Security and Medicare. So schemes that Republicans in Congress are proposing to privatize Social Security or voucherrize mode I care, those are dangerous programs. Dangerous ideas.
Ted Simons: Dangerous ideas for these programs.
Vernon Parker: Absolutely. I will tell you I have never advocated privatizing Social Security. I am on record for continuing saying that we must uphold our commitment to our seniors. We must preserve Medicare. We must preserve Social Security. Now, the system is broken. So we're going to have to do something to fix the system. When I get to Congress I will sit down with Republicans, with Democrats to make sure that in the future that we resolve the issues surrounding Social Security and Medicare.
Ted Simons: What about returning Medicaid to the states?
Vernon Parker: I have problem with that.
Ted Simons: You have no problem with that? So, you think that's a good idea?
Vernon Parker: I do.
Ted Simons: Returning Medicaid to the states?
Kyrsten Sinema: This is a real area of difference between us because medicate were returned to the state as a block grant we would lose over 50% of the funds that we currently get. This means low income workers, people with disabilities and seniors. You know that seniors make up 65% of the folks who benefit access in this state. Making those block cuts means my grandma wouldn't get care, kids with disabilities wouldn't get care.
Ted Simons: Some would argue states and the governor certainly made that argument we can't afford what's going on with access.
Kyrsten Sinema: The truth is we can't afford to not do it. When we don't insure that folks have access to affordable health care they show up for healthcare anyway in the emergency room. You and I both know it costs 12 times as much to see a doctor in the emergency room than to see a doctor in his or her office. It doesn't benefit Arizona to cut this program.
Ted Simons: Last word.
Vernon Parker: Last word is that this is a clear difference because Ms. Sinema will continually throughout the entire night believe that big government is the answer, that the federal government should be in control. I believe that decisions should be made at the state level. A lot of these decisions should be made at the state level because we are here. We don't need Washington D.C. telling us how to do business in the state of Arizona.
Ted Simons: Social Security, Medicare, returning Medicaid to the states, what do you think?
Powell Gammill: I'm appalled you would toss your grandmother out in the street because she doesn't have health insurance. Which is what I just heard you say. I would think you would come up with money and help her out. I guess instead you would rather put a gun to every American in the country and fleece them of their hard-earned wages.
Ted Simons: Do you believe there are people who simply that don't have the means to take care of themselves?
Powell Gammill: Absolutely. What used to happen up until the 1950's was that we had charities, etc., that would take care of such people. Church groups, etc. And the federal government has basically come in and run them out of the business of doing that appeared taken over on its own.
Ted Simons: All right.
Powell Gammill: At any rate as you can guess Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, zero all across the board. It's a tax, nothing more.
Ted Simons: Is man made climate change real? Do you believe in that?
Vernon Parker: Look, I don't believe Al Gore invented the internet either. Man made climate change, we must be good stewards of our environment, we must make sure that we protect our environment.
Ted Simons: Is man made climate change real?
Kyrsten Sinema: Climate change is real. There's a lot of evidence, overwhelming evidence, that man's impact has made a difference. That's why I support plans to help create solar energy and improve alternative energy here in Arizona. It's part of my jobs plan. Ted, it's not only important to help address the issue of climate change, it's also important from a national security perspective. The faster we can become more dependent on renewable sources right here in Arizona like solar energy the less likely were going to continue be dependent on volatile markets in the Middle East.
Ted Simons: How hard do you push for renewable resources in Arizona?
Vernon Parker: Very hard. But here's the problem. We have the largest oil reserve in the world. If we tapped into that reserve believe me our economy would take off. So we have to make sure that we as someone said that we -- our president does not bow down to a Saudi king. We have the reserves. We must utilize those reserves. I'm in favor of nuclear, I'm in favor of clean coal, in favor of solar. So whatever it is that gets us away and gets us full independence we need to pursue it.
Ted Simons: Quickly, the idea drill more, finds more resources within America?
Kyrsten Sinema: I do believe it's important for us to keep all of our options on the table but we can make more clean energy using solar technology at a cheaper rate than in the past without endangering some of our greatest wildlife resources and some of our greatest natural resources.
Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there.
Powell Gammill: Shucks, we were just having fun.
Ted Simons: WE we're just getting going. Each candidate will give a one-minute closing statement. Going in reverse opening of the opening statements. We start with Vernon Parker:
Vernon Parker: First shall be last and last shall be first. Thank you, Ted, thank you, guys. This was a lot of fun. I'm asking you today to support me, send me to Congress. We must get our economy going. We must put the middle class back to work, and we must protect our seniors, protect Medicare, protect Social Security. We must have an education system that is second to none. You have my commitment that I will work with Republicans and Democrats because right now we have a Congress that gets nothing done because they are more concerned about pinning the tail on the donkey or trying to lasso the elephant. I can tell you right now the American people, they have been lost. I will work hard to make sure that we keep the prosperity of this country and that we work to ensure for future generations that they have a future. Please send me to Congress. I will work for you.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. Our next closing statement is from Kyrsten Sinema.
Kyrsten Sinema: Thanks, Ted. As I mentioned at the beginning of our debate I'm running for Congress because I think we deserve better. I'm a native Arizonan. As I mentioned earlier, my family faced tough times when I was a kid. When my dad lost his job we lost everything, yet as I was homeless for a kid for two years thanks to this great country and the opportunities afforded us, and a good public education system, I was able to get back on my feet and make it to the middle class. I want that same opportunity for every kid and every family in this country. I'm running for Congress because I believe we can keep those doors of opportunity open. When we combine hard work and assistance to help each other make it through, we can create a country that we are all proud of every single day. Back in the day Arizona was known for its pragmatic common sense solutions and we can be known for that again. I'm the only candidate with the history of working across the aisle to solve problems and I promise to do that same thing for you if you send me to Washington D.C. Thank you so much.
Ted Simons: Our final closing statement is from Powell Gammill.
Powell Gammill: Another two years and yet another opportunity to either vote for a whole bunch of offices, for candidates or one candidate is obviously going to win and therefore your vote doesn't count or where an R and a D are both unacceptable, where once again you get to choose between the lesser of two evils. Choosing evil is still evil. The only alternative is to choose not to participate in what I a voluntary process. Don't vote. You have better things to do than reaffirm the process where a bunch of thugs get anointed to divvy up your stolen labor in a 60-40 split. Either candidate is acceptable to them. What they need is your participation and your consent in the anointing. Deny them both by finding better things to do this election.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. Thank you for joining us tonight on this special edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. That is it for now. You have a great evening.

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