Former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays, the Democratic candidate for the Second Congressional District, said today that he wouldn’t have voted for the Affordable Care Act. His Republican opponent, banker French Hill, said the rise of ISIS in the Middle East is partly the fault of President Obama. Libertarian Debbie Standiford said the United States shouldn’t be involved in the fight against ISIS at all.
The three candidates faced off Monday morning during the first of nine debates sponsored this week by AETN. The debate was live streamed on AETN’s website, can be viewed at this link, and will be televised at 7 p.m. tonight. The Senate debate between all four candidates in that race was to start at 2 p.m. and will be televised at 8 p.m.
The Congressional candidates answered questions about the following topics:
Education. Hays suggested student loans should be the same interest rate as what the FDIC charges banks. Hill said the federal government’s many workforce training programs should be consolidated. He said the funding should perhaps be block-granted to states, or employers could be given tax credits for employers who do their own training. Standiford said she supports more school choice for K-12 students and less government subsidies for college, which she said has inflated the cost of an education.
Health care. Hill said the Affordable Care Act is too big and complex and that the federal government instead should have used existing avenues for reform, including pre-existing condition pools operated by every state. Standiford said government regulations and subsidies have inflated the cost of health care. She called for reforms such as letting insurance be sold across state lines and encouraging the creation of health savings accounts, both of which Hill seconded in his rebuttal. Hays said the Affordable Care Act is too complex and costly, but he said he supports the state’s so-called Medicaid “private option,” which uses Medicaid dollars to buy private insurance. Hill said that was an inconsistent position.
The national debt. Standiford said the military should be significantly reduced and called for the elimination of the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Interior. Hays suggested reducing wasteful spending, which he said he had done as mayor of North Little Rock. Hill called for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and a line-item veto so a president can veto specific items without having to veto an entire budget.
Immigration. Hays called for securing the nation’s borders and encouraging guest worker programs. Hill said securing the border is the top challenge on this issue and that the country should make it easier for people to immigrate to America legally. Standiford said America’s borders should be more open.
Minimum wage. Hill said he opposes raising it at the federal level and said minimum wage jobs are stepping stones into the workforce. Standiford said government should not involve itself in private contracts between employers and employees. Hays supports raising the minimum wage.
ISIS. Standiford said American policies had given rise to ISIS and said the United States military should be used for national defense, not offensive intervention. Hays said the world is so connected that the United States must be involved. He said the United States must build partnerships with countries in the affected areas. Hill said President Obama’s policies have worsened the situation. Now the country must create a coalition and a strategy and then offer leadership in dealing with the enemy, he said.