In a debate among 1st Congressional District candidates, Democrat Chintan Desai Monday (Oct. 8) criticized Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican, for being a “full-throated” supporter of President Trump’s tariffs he said have hurt soybean farmers. Crawford said farmers are finding other markets and the tariffs are a necessary tool to make China play by the rules.
The two along with Libertarian Elvis Presley discussed tariffs, health care, and other issues at the University of Central Arkansas during a debate sponsored by AETN. The debate was scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Monday.
Crawford, who has supported Trump’s tariffs, said China is the United States’ largest soybean export market and that it has no choice but to import directly or indirectly products grown in the United States. He said farmers are selling beans to other markets that then are selling them to China.
While there has been some “intermediate pain,” Crawford said the tariffs have been “an important tool to implement to force China to play by the rules.”
“If you want to see the field change, you want to see a good deal for farmers, then we need to understand that we have to play a little hardball,” he said.
Desai countered that the polices are hurting farmers and said other methods could have been used to change China’s behavior, such as working with America’s allies. He said the policies will hurt consumers.
“You’re going to see this tit-for-tat on these tariffs where China is going to come back, they already have placed these tariffs on consumer goods, and people are going to … pay more for those everyday goods at Walmart and Target,” he said.
Asked about helping senior citizens and low-income individuals afford health care, Desai said the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, has helped save rural hospitals and reduced medical bankruptcies. He called for expanding Medicare during the debate and during a press conference afterwards said he supports a national single payer health care system. He criticized Crawford for voting for the American Health Care Act, which would have replaced Obamacare.
Crawford said Desai wants a socialist system the country cannot afford that would result in rationed health care.
Desai criticized Crawford for voting to expand work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program beneficiaries. He said wages have not increased, and he criticized Crawford for opposing an increase in the minimum wage.
Crawford said states should decide about raising the minimum wage.
“I could back up a truck with a million dollars and dump it in (Desai’s) front yard, and he’d say I’m not doing enough,” he said. “That’s because he has no idea what this job entails, and the work that we do day-to-day helping the citizens across this district.”
Asked about the influence of lobbyists and political action committees, Desai said he would support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United campaign finance ruling. Crawford said more laws aren’t needed.
Regarding making college more affordable, Crawford said universities should have control over the intellectual property their research generates in order to raise revenues. Desai said college should be free for students from families earning $125,000 or less. Crawford said that proposal is unaffordable.
You can watch the full debate at this link.