The Huntsville Association of Small Businesses in Advanced Technology (HASBAT) hosted a Congressional Forum today featuring Republican Mo Brooks and Democrat Steve Raby. The Forum was attended by more than 80 local business people and covered by the news media including Dale Jackson of WVNN, Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times, and Trang Do of WAFF. In addition, I had the pleasure of meeting ‘mooncat’ of Left in Alabama – she got the forum on video and I hope she posts it – I can’t wait to see their comments…
The following is a summary of the forum which I hope gives you, our dear readers, insight into the candidate’s position on issues.
Brooks (R) = “facing a grave set of challenges”; “socialism versus free enterprise”; “balanced budget Constitutional Amendment”
Raby (D) = “don’t like the direction of our country… or what is going on in Washington”; “problem-solving standpoint”; “I believe in capitalism”; “reduce budget deficits”; “independent-minded”
QUESTION 1 = Jobs: what can the federal government do to create jobs in the private sector?
Brooks (R) = private sector funds government; extend Bush tax cuts; get Feds “out of the way”; “fewer taxes, less regulation”; “fair trade, not free trade” example China currency manipulation; “free the entrepreneur”
Raby (D) = we have “economic instability”; businesses are sitting on cash waiting on tax policy; Constitutional requirement for defense so “no one in this town should have to apologize for working for the government”; coordinate State / Federal economic development efforts
QUESTION 2 = Taxes: do you favor extending the Bush tax cuts and regulatory relief?
Raby (D) = most regulations are drafted with good intentions but twisted by administrators; “stabilize tax policy”
Brooks (R) = “this is a defining difference between me and my opponent”; for extending Bush tax cuts; “you know what you’re going to get” if you vote for me
QUESTION 3 = Economy: unsustainable national debt?
Brooks (R) = “two years ago, Steve contributed $2,000 to my campaign” [each candidate praised the other - they're old friends]; “46% of operating expenses is borrowed money”; can’t keep borrowing from children; balanced budget except for crisis or war
Raby (D) = “I agree with Mo”; “greatest threat to our economy is continued deficit spending”; “for balanced budget amendment… except for capital projects like highways…”; the $2000 contribution to Mo ”wasn’t the first time”; bipartisan; “I’ve given $48,000 to Republicans”; “going to take a centrist approach”
QUESTION 4 = Do you support Obamacare?
Raby (D) = “No, I do not”; “wasn’t done in a transparent way”; hospitals say it will increase costs; Doctors won’t accept patients; “pre-existing conditions should be dealt with”; Medicare Part D doughnut hole should be dealt with; individual mandate “will not work”
Brooks (R) = “the issue is cost”; “socialized medicine is the end game for these people [Democrats]; “interstate competition”; “tort reform”; eliminate hospital Certificate of Need requirements; take legal bills out of health care costs; illegal aliens add costs; “a strong economy empowers us to pay for the health care we need”
QUESTION 5 = Defense: do you favor a “phased adaptive approach” to missile defense? [the guy who wrote the question later said he wished the question had been clearer]
Brooks (R) = overall the economy allows us to pay for defense; “fed is taking $2.7 trillion out of capital markets, denying it to business”
Raby (D) = Constitutional requirement for defense; ”move money to R&D”; “prepare for the next war”
QUESTION 6 = Illegal immigration?
Raby (D) = “gather information”; “federal responsibility”; secure Southwest border and ports of entry; focus on employers e-verify
Brooks (R) = “Thank Arizona”; secure borders; e-verify; make it expensive for employers to hire illegals
Raby (D) = “I’m on team Tennessee Valley”; “I don’t want to be grouped with these folks” [specifically trial lawyers but in the context of the Democratic team]; “the other team” pledged not to accept earmarks so Redstone Arsenal got $0 for Military Construction while Bobby Bright (D – AL02) got money for military bases in his district; “I’m not part of a political team”
Brooks (R) = politicans choose ideology (team); first vote in the House is for the Speaker of the House, it’s for a team; “bipartisan when it comes to mutual agreement”
Politics is a ‘team’ effort. This is displayed by the very first vote each Representative casts for Speaker of the House. Do you want two more years of Nancy Pelosi?
I thought that Mo Brooks did a great job. Brooks was passionate and noted (often) that he has a record of fiscal leadership. The only question he didn’t directly address was the missile defense question (it was too much inside baseball), but he gave a good answer. Disclosure – Mo was a contributor here until the contested GOP primary and I have a ‘Brooks for Congress’ bumper sticker and yard sign.
I’m trying to figure out Steve Raby – I know many people who like him and I can see that. Raby seems to be running away from the national Democratic Party (can’t fault him for that) – he said the word “independent” several times. Raby dodged the Bush tax cut extension question, which was obvious to the crowd of small business people who will see their taxes rise on January 1. I don’t doubt his concern for the Tennessee Valley.
I made the offer to Raby’s Finance Director that if they send us press releases, campaign event notices, or opinion pieces that we will post it.
Lisa Williams attended the forum with her husband State Representative Phil Williams (R – 6). Lisa is one of my 10 year old niece’s favorite people – they met at a GOP breakfast – Lisa was very sweet and patient with her.
Thanks to HASBAT for a nice lunch and a great event!