Estimated read time: 8-9 minutes
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In this Sunday Edition, a conversation with candidates for Utah's 3rd Congressional District. On Nov. 2, Democrat Karen Hyer will take on freshman incumbent Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz. Chaffetz and Hyer outline their qualifications and state their positions on critical issues facing Congress with KSL's Bruce Lindsay.
Chaffetz and Hyer were given the opportunity to make an opening statement:
Chaffetz: "I'm Jason Chaffetz and it is truly an honor and a privilege to serve in the United States Congress.
"As I was coming in here, somebody said to me, 'Well, how are things in Washington, D.C.?' And I said, 'It's a mess. It's a disaster.' I mean, look, we have unbelievable unemployment, we are $13 trillion in debt, we are spending $500 [million] to $600 million a day just in interest on that debt, we now have more than 130,000 additional federal workers since Barack Obama took office -- that's not the prescription this country needs.
"And so I wake up every morning fighting for fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability and a strong national defense. Those are the things that are going to get us back on track, and those are the things that I'm fighting for and why I ask for your vote come November 2nd."
Hyer: "I'm Karen Hyer and I am running for Congress because I think our nation is at a tipping point where we really need to solve some problems. We can't have anymore rhetoric about them.
"I was asked to run. I was recruited by some very conservative Democrats, even though I have been a lifelong Republican. I have conservative values, but I can think outside of the box. I can work with other people to truly solve these problems. I have had a lot of world experience and I will apply that experience to these problems.
"I am hoping that I can help you to help me to make this economy better, and so I need your vote."
On fiscal responsibility:
Chaffetz: "The low-hanging fruit here is changing Social Security. For older generations, we're going to have to live up to those obligations. For younger generations, we absolutely have to change the equation as soon as possible, because we are running out of funds in that area.
"And as far as Medicaid and Medicare, again we have to change that. It starts with repealing Obamacare, because that is not going to save this country money. It's going to actually raise the cost of health care in this country.
"There are about $100 billion in waste, fraud and abuse. It doesn't take the Congress to actually legislate and say, 'Go clean up that $100 billion.' We need tort reform. We need all of these types of things that will have substantial multi-billion dollar changes to the equation.
"And look right now what we are doing with our current budget. We need regulatory stability. We don't have regulatory stability. The marketplace is resistant to make capital investments because they don't know what the Congress is going to do. You have these tax cuts come January, are they going to be re-instituted? Are they going to be changed?"
On health care reform:
Hyer: "I'm not in favor of repealing [Obama's health care reform bill]. If I had been there, I would not have voted for this law. I would have spent a lot more time on the cost factors.
"... Now that it's there, there are several things in it that we need to investigate. Some of the things were good that came through that bill, but many things are going to be more costly.
"Now we don't know exactly what those things are going to be yet. We have some ideas, but some of the predictions have not been accurate.
"So, I was amused at the Pledge [to] America because they are going to repeal everything and take us back to square one, and then they're going to put back exactly some of the same things that were taken out. So I think it's foolish to take it out in the first place. Let's work it over. Let's work together and work it over and quit trying to be partisan.
"I don't want to be partisan about something that is so important to the American people as a health care program. This is something that touches everybody in the country. We need to put all of our brains together and work together. We can't be doing this grandstanding anymore."
On Pledge to America:
Chaffetz: "It's not a party platform. It's a starting point to say, 'If you allow the Republicans to come back into office and have control of that speakers gavel, this is what we intend to do.'" And line by line, it's very specific about what we would do.
"Two quick examples: We want to, yes, repeal Obamacare. We talk about ending the stimulus. If you end the stimulus right now, that's $200 billion. If you go back to just the 2008 spending levels, which wasn't very long ago, that saves another $100 billion."
On the recession:
Hyer: Well, we were talking about a depression; and had I been back there, I probably would have voted for that TARP.
"Most of the banks have paid back their initial investments that were made into them, and we have not had a depression here. But some of the stimulus money did not go down to where it should have gone.
"The average American person, the middle class, is being hammered here, and we haven't handled the mortgage problem. That's pulling the whole economy down.
"We have people on the street who are well educated people who should be employed. So, I think jobs are one of our most important situations, and I think the federal government can assist in that. But we need to facilitate, we need to facilitate the development of new businesses."
Candidates discuss earmarks:
Chaffetz: "I campaigned on the idea that we need openness, transparency and reform. I have not yet asked for an earmark. In fact, I am proud of the fact that I helped lead the charge in the House with all the House Republicans now have taken a pledge saying, 'We will not ask for earmarks.' That is the policy of the House Republicans, unlike what the Democrats are doing. So no, we have to change the way we do business.
"I was widely criticized by [Sen.] Orrin Hatch and others who said, 'If you're not asking for earmarks, you are not doing your job.' To which I said to the senator, 'With all due respect, I'm not here to perpetuate the status quo. I'm here to help change the way we do things.'
"But the House of Representatives, per the Constitution, does have the duty, role and responsibility to appropriate funds. But the bills that I have passed -- for instance the Magna water and the project down in Provo, in Utah County, for the hydroelectric facility -- they weren't done through earmarks. They were done through regular order, through a bill. That's the way they should happen."
Hyer: "Well, earmarks were set up to keep track. When you cut an ear on a cow, you want to keep track of that cow; so it was a tracking system.
"Earmarks amount to about 1 percent of that non-discretionary area, and we are not going to ... by not asking for earmarks, all we are doing is tossing it back into a pot that maybe the executive can use, and you have bureaucrats deciding what's going to happen with it.
"I think when Utahns are paying taxes, they need to get something back for it. But I do agree that they need to be transparent and they shouldn't be used to pay back campaign donors or special interest groups. And I think that's where some of the problems have occurred, bridges to nowhere and that sort of thing.
"But the concept of earmark itself was set up so we could track, so we know; it could be more transparent."
Chaffetz and Hyer also explained their views on immigration.
Each candidate offered a summary statement.
Chaffetz: "It's an honor and privilege to serve in the United States Congress. I'm still pinching myself that I get to represent Utah to Washington, not Washington to Utah.
"I'm working hard every day, fighting to support the Constitution, fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability, strong national defense.
"I've cast nearly a thousand votes in the United States Congress. I hope that you've found that I have represented you properly, that you can be proud of the way we've done it.
"We've done it with a smile on our face but with an energy level that's unparalleled, and I would appreciate your vote come November 2nd. I would like to return and keep fighting for those things."
Hyer: "We have serious problems. We need to elect people who are prepared to actually deal with those problems back there.
"We can't continue with this rhetoric. We don't want to go the rule of professional politicians because they always have these little games to play so that they'll stay in office and maybe get a higher office and go even higher than that, so we have them there for 30 years.
"We need to actually send people back who will solve the problem. That's what I want to do. I want to look at the fiscal situation, ethics, and I want to help my constituents."
Segment 3: Coming Up on Sunday Edition
Through the month of October, we will bring you, each week, conversations with candidates for other major political offices.
Next week, Sunday Edition continues its election series, "Conversations with the Candidates" with candidates of Utah's 1st Congressional District: Rob Bishop and Morgan Bowen.
"Conversation with the Candidates" schedule:
- Oct. 10: 1st Congressional District candidates
- Oct. 17: Utah gubernatorial race
- Oct. 24: U.S. Senate race
- Oct. 31: 2nd Congressional District candidates