The Daily Mail editorial board will be meeting with candidates running for U.S. House in the 2nd Congressional District. We’ll live blog the discussion beginning at 11 a.m.
Democrat Howard Swint is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito in the race.
Swint is a commercial real estate broker in Charleston, Capito has represented the district in Congress since 2001 and is seeking her seventh term in office.
Well, that’s the end of our time today – thanks for joining us!!
Swint: Would not support Romney-Ryan because of the Ryan budget.
Said it didn’t reflect values of West Virginians.
“I think that the programs that would be cut…under the auspices of balancing the budget would hurt West Virginians at the end of the day.”
“I think at the end of the day, the affordable care act will benefit West Virginians. I believe at the end of the day the environmental regulations that are coming out of the Obama administration, while controversial, are at the end of the day on balance going to benefit West Virginians.
Said he would not allow the coal companies to run the state’s economy.
Said Don Blankenship gave Capito money – Capito immediately corrected him to say, ‘No!” – Swint said he say opensecrets.org that Blankenship contributed to a PAC that gave to her campaign. Capito said she did not know who had given to any PACs.
Capito: “I think Gov. Romney knows how to work with the economy and creating jobs.” Said if we’re looking at cutbacks in coal, we’ve got to look at transitioning our base into something new, and education system is needed for that.
Agrees with Paul Ryan that government has been burdened with debt, stimulus not effective.
“It shows you have to grow your economy from the private sector, the small business people. People who need to have confidence in your taxes, the regulatory environment…I think the Romney-Ryan ticket understands those people.
“On the contrary, I think the president has flown over WV, has flown by WV and as a result does not understand how his policies affect WV.”
Question: Who do you support for President and why?
Swint: Said he favored restrictions on chemicals going into the Chesapeake Bay. Said they right now aren’t testing for chemicals that are poisoning waters and affecting the fish in those waterways.
“It’s sound science, it’s very sound science.” Said 20 years ago if you fell in a river there you had to go to the hospital and get shots. Said the Clean Water Act is helping to alleviate that.
Agreed with Capito that “it is Congress’s jurisdiction to create that law. I consider it an overreach when the executive branch makes laws, I’m an Constitutional purists in that point.”
Capito: “Underground mining has its hazards too. I don’t think we have to remind each other what happened at the UBB mine or Sago mine. Again, you have to try to achieve some kind of balance, and have to say that underground mining is not easy, it’s not cheap, it’s not always the safest environment and it can be a hazard.
In Kanawha Valley, people concerned about EPA and coal mining. In eastern panhandle, it’s EPA with the Chesapeake Watershed. People concerned they’re too stringent.
Swint: Agreed that EPA revoking a permit after the fact is wrong. “I think it’s an unlawful taking for a coal company to come in, purchase land and have the environmental regulation come in and take that away…said it should be grandfathered in that allows them to proceed in the process.”
But also said on balancing economy and jobs:
“If this was all about jobs, we wouldn’t have mountaintop removal.”
Favored banning it.
“I think it’s an environmental crime. I would challenge the congresswoman to increase the number of jobs by eliminating mountaintop removal mining technique.”
“I think it’s a shame, I think it’s a disgrace. I think the grandeur of our beautiful state – the Mountain State – is being ruined.”
Capito: Every time we’ve talked we’ve tried to weave a balance between the environment and the economy.
Market forces, with the low cost of natural gas – which is a win for WV, because we have a lot of natural gas here – are definitely at play here.
But said those forces are cyclical and natgas could get more expensive and coal could get cheaper in the future as the markets work.
“We need an all of the above, we have to have coal as our baseline.” Said there needs to be more investment in clean air technology research. Worried that research & development not coming online fast enough to utilize coal as its market is declining.
“What I’d like to talk about here are the 1,200 people who lost their job last week…the people in Clay County are just yelling at me, ‘Stop the war on coal.’”
Said regulations should be addressed.
“We are supposed to legislate this – these are decisions that are to be made in Congress, not by an administrative cabinet position. That is where I have a problem.”
Swint: I think market forces are driving the price of coal. As long as we have good metallurgical market for coal, we will have a future for the coal industry in West Virginia.
Said he believed that some regulations could provide a future of coal in WV. Mentioned the John Amos Plant and its scrubbers – “Because they’re there, there’s going to be good demand for that coal right here in West Virginia, not to mention we’re going to have cleaner air and less mercury in our air and water.”
Now question about where they see the future of the coal industry.
Swint: If I had my way we wouldn’t have gone down the path of the Affordable Care Act, we would have just expanded the existing system that is called Medicare.
“I hope that no one will have to go through the experience I had with my father and the cost of his end of life care.”
Said his father was treated like inventory in the hospital system for two months before being shipped to a rehab center where he died.
“There’s a great deal of money that I think could be saved by having a panel of experts including religious people that could say things like…‘Don’t you think that your father or mother would be better off at home?’”
“We need to have a mature and grown up discussion about late in life care.”
Capito: Agreed that ultimate goal is to get everyone insured. “But having an individual mandate is not the way to go.” Need to broaden availability and affordability.
“I don’t have all the solutions here…Howard brings up the preventative medicine and I think he’s right there…if you are healthier, you will have cheaper health costs.”
Mentioned the demographic factors pushing costs up too.
“When I look at our aging population, it scares me. People are outliving their bodies, the care you have to provide is very expensive…I think you should take all your money and put it to Alzheimer’s research, because that’s where the money is going.”
Swint: Agreed that there are a lot of uncertainties that are problematic, did not like the Medicaid costs for the states. Do believe there are benefits to getting insurance to 50million uninsured, “Because who pays for them today? We do, through higher taxes, higher costs and fees for services.”
Now will be able to get preventative services for insured instead of more costly emergency services for those who are currently uninsured. Will lower costs in the long run. “I believe at the end of the day there will be advantages associated with that.”
“I believe that on balance it is a good program on virtue that it brings all of those uninsured onto the program.”
Capito: Have voted against it multiple times. Now companies are assessing costs of health care coverage versus costs of the legislation. “I have not found one single person in that position does not know that the cost of that penalty is less than the cost of health care they’ve been providing over the years.”
“When you start looking at the bottom line – it’s going to be too expensive and everyone’s going to be thrown over to the public exchange…it puts more government ahead of your doctor.” Mentioned the Independent Payments Advisory Board which she opposed because of the control it gives to cut costs.
Also mentioned the cuts to Medicare and Medicare advantage. Mentioned that her parents are on those programs. “I know the benefit that provides…I want to preserve it.”
“It doesn’t do some of the things I think that could have been done to lower costs.” Said needed tort reform aspect because the state had seen how important that was with medical malpractice insurance reform.
“I don’t think we have a real cost of this. I think another thing that was sold falsely to us that this will save money..” Said it doesn’t look that way.
“I do like some of the things that have already started, they very brilliantly built in the good things first – keeping your kids on your program til 26 and eliminating pre-existing conditions.” Called the Medicaid provision a “budget buster for states.”
“I know we need health care reform, and I like some of the good things (including being able to buy across state lines) but I don’t think this is it.”
Now asking thoughts on the Affordable Care Act.
Swint: Said he was in favor of reinstating Glass-Steagall to separate investment and regular banks. “These banks are still unwinding their toxic assets.” “This was the result of the absence of regulatory oversight from Congress.”
Glass-Steagall repealed under Clinton, and noted that Capito was not there, but said it was a huge mistake to repeal it.
Capito: I think over the years there were obvious regulatory gaps, unregulated lenders that we began shining the light on in the early 2000s. Obviously it was not as enough…we could have done a better job of highlighting the weaknesses.
Mentioned push in late 1990s the push to widen the ability of Fannie and Freddie to play a larger part in the housing market. “There’s plenty of blame to go around.”
“I would say learning by mistakes, we’ve passed legislation to tighten restrictions on mortgage brokers and qualified appraisals….I think it was a perfect storm of a lot of different things.”
Swint: Rather focus on making sure the country has enough revenue to function.
“I am in favor of allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire.” Said Bush administration created “massive increase in financial debt.” Also favored rolling back spending to a level in the Clinton administration. Believed that was a big part of fixing the debt and deficit.
But did say that conservatives were tied by signing things like Grover Norquists’ anti-tax increase pledge. Believed in what Alan Simpson said that people wanting to avoid raising taxes in any way should not be in Congress.
This is about making the tax code more fair and progressive…right now it is extremely regressive.
Said needed to eliminate virtually all deductions to get back to a starting point. “The tax code is nothing but an encyclopedia and a chronology of special interest lobbying in Congress.”
Said Simpson-Bowles is a good starting point. Would simplify the tax code, free up the burden of an “army of professionals” doing accounting work.
Would not be a tax increase because eliminating the tax deductions would raise revenue and allow government to reduce overall tax rates. Said the deductions benefit primarily the middle and upper income Americans.
“Because of the government meddling into the housing market with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, easy money policies at the fed….I would suggest to you that was a part of the financial crisis, was the government’s interference in the housing market.”
“House financial service committee at the end of the day did not do their jobs” Allowed predatory lending practices and let people go out and get loans they shouldn’t have. “It was the wild west, it should have never have happened.”
Capito: “I don’t think the time now is the time to do it.” Washington has neglected to care for economy have neglected to take care of the economy, “I think if we raise taxes on the higher level, it’s like 60% of small business owners filing that bracket.”
Said broad tax reform needed. Some of the ideas in the Simpson-Bowles proposal to eliminate tax credits and deductions are good. Mentioned the Wind Farm story in today’s Daily Mail.
“We can’t keep propping up through the tax code, winners and losers….I think that would be the best way to address taxes then letting one set of individual rates expire.”
Moving on to the Bush Tax Cuts that are set to expire, do they support letting them expire?
“If you’re happy with the way things are in Congress, you should send Shelley Moore Capito back to Congress.”
Said she was right about the debt, but said he can arguably better represent conservative fiscal policy. Supports balanced budget amendment, campaign finance reforms and tax reforms “I really do believe that Congress is owned lock, stock and barrel by special interests – that’s reflected in our tax code.”
Believes in term limits. “I believe in government oversight of the financial industry” Also believes that the EPA has benefited us with clean air and water.
At the end of the day, her standing with the Bush administration represented a betrayal to conservative fiscal policy.
“The silence of the house financial services committee ahead of the financial crisis was a breach of the public trust.” I believe if they had done their job and regulated the financial industry, crisis would not have happened.
In a strange twist, I believe the democratic nominees is the most fiscally conservative, good government candidate for the second Congressional District.
Capito: “Send me back to Washington to try to deal with the uncertainly we have right now.”
8% unemployment, $16trillion debt,
“Job creators are telling me that there’s so much uncertainty…first being the regulatory environment.” It’s not just environmental, but the financial regulatory environment stalling investment and lending. Also uncertainty on future tax policy and health care costs.
Uncertainty in Congress: “We’re not getting things done…we absolutely have got to lay down the arms and get things done.” Said she’s been known as able to reach across the aisle to work together.
We’re starting now – asking candidates to just an intro question, why should voters pick you?
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