And oddly socialist Harry Mitchell made one true statement - “I’m a member of Congress and I think it’s dysfunctional” - of course we don't know if Harry Mitchell blamed the mess in Congress on himself.
Mitchell, Schweikert spar in Tempe debate
Congressional candidates continued lobbying attacks in a debate Tuesday afternoon at Tempe City Hall.
Republican David Schweikert and Libertarian Nick Coons joined incumbent Democrat Harry Mitchell in a debate hosted by Arizona's largest newspaper, with immigration, education and the economy becoming the main talking points in the race for Arizona’s 5th Congressional District.
Mitchell, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, is seeking his third term representing CD 5, a district that covers all of Tempe and Scottsdale, as well as parts of Chandler, Mesa and Ahwatukee.
Mitchell said he supported tax cuts, especially in the interest of promoting small businesses, and called Schweikert’s support of the FairTax plan a consumption tax in place of a federal income tax, as “ludicrous.”
Schweikert said it’s time to make a change regarding taxes for the benefit of visibility to the public.
“If we’re going to start growing our economy, we have to have an understanding of where we’re going, especially tax-wise,” Schweikert said. “The fair tax wouldn’t be much different from the system we have today.”
Coons stuck to a traditional Libertarian view on taxes.
“I really don’t support any taxes,” he said. “When you take someone’s property from someone without their consent, that’s theft. And I don’t support that.”
On the topic of education, Mitchell and Schweikert vehemently disagreed.
Mitchell attacked Schweikert for his views on reforming the education system.
He said that not only did Schweikert oppose Proposition 100, the 1 percent state sales tax increase to benefit funding of public education that passed in May, he also wanted to dismantle the Department of Education, which Mitchell, a 30-year teacher, said is “very offensive to me.”
“Mr. Schweikert spearheaded and was a co-sponsor to oppose Prop 100, which would have put local tax dollars into the schools,” Mitchell said. “Here he was not wanting the federal government to have any, and then asks people to vote against Proposition 100.”
Schweikert countered, saying the revenue from the sales tax increase went to the control of bureaucrats.
“I’m passionate about getting the cash out of the bureaucrat’s hands and into our neighborhood school districts,” Schweikert said. “It’s very simple. I want the dollars, and I want them here in my community.”
On the subject of immigration, both Mitchell and Schweikert said they wanted a fence built along the border, but Coons said he thought it should be easier for people to come to this country for opportunities.
“Anyone who wants to come here for opportunities should be allowed to come,” Coons said. “When people come here, they need to support themselves, and it should be easy for people to come here.”
Mitchell said one of the largest issues relating to illegal immigration is people overstaying legal work visas.
However, it’s very difficult for the federal government and immigration agencies to track those who overstay on visas, he said.
In response, Schweikert asked Mitchell, “Somehow Blockbuster can fine me when I’ve kept my DVD a few days long, but the federal government can’t fine people who have overstayed their visas?”
Schweikert said the technology and methodology of immigration agencies would have to be improved to counter such problems.
Moderator Robert Leger, an opinions editor for The Arizona Republic touched on the issue of negative campaign advertising, which Mitchell and Schweikert have both spent heavily on.
Schweikert said he was personally affected by Mitchell’s negative campaign ads, several of which said he was engaging in “predatory business practices” in a real estate company he co-owns with his wife.
“You turn on the TV, my wife comes in with tears in her eyes saying, ‘Why are they attacking us?’” Schweikert said. “We buy houses from people and fix them up as rentals. We thought we were the good guys.
“Because of what’s going on in the political environment, Congressman Mitchell is trying to destroy me as a person,” he said.
Mitchell said the accusations, including one that Schweikert’s company served a foreclosure notice on a 12-year-old child, were confirmed by court documents.
In closing statements, the candidates resonated the concern that there needed to be a change in directive, and maybe leadership, in Washington.
“I’m a member of Congress and I think it’s dysfunctional,” Mitchell said.
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