Peters, Raczkowski find little common ground in debate over health care, jobs
Marisa Schultz / The Detroit News
Rochester Hills — Candidates for the 9th Congressional District seat sparred over health care, jobs and government intervention during the debate for one of the most hotly contested races in Michigan.
Incumbent Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, is fighting to retain his seat in the face of anti-incumbent and anti-Democratic sentiment here and around the country. Republican Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski, former state representative and Tea Party-backed candidate, is hoping to take the seat back for the GOP.
Peters defended his support of the federal health care bill, saying it will protect consumers from insurance being rescinded and bolster health care options for pre-existing conditions.
“I believe every American should have access to affordable health care — the same health care that a member of Congress has — and that’s what we have in this bill,” Peters said during the debate at Oakland University.
Raczkowski called the bill “dangerous,” saying women under 50 would not have coverage for mammograms because it’s not considered cost effective. He vowed to repeal and replace it.
“This bill is garbage. It will ration health care,” he said.
Also participating in the debate were Green Party candidate Douglas Campbell and Bob Gray and Matthew Kuofie, who are not affiliated with a party. Campbell said he would have voted against the health insurance measure because it isn’t health reform, but says he supports socialized medicine. Kuofie supports some parts of the bill, such as offering insurance to those with pre-existing conditions, but has concerns over how the bill will be funded. Gray doesn’t believe in national health care. “You don’t want the health care you shouldn’t have to take it,” Gray said.
Asked about the role of the federal government in job creation, Peters said the government does not create jobs, but private businesses do. However, small businesses have had trouble getting loans so while in Washington he’s worked to help them, he said.
“I’ve worked very aggressively on a small business lending bill that just recently was signed into law that will put money in the hands of our job creators, which are small businesses,” Peters said.
Raczkowski said the government creates problems for job creation when it gets involved in business.
“We need less regulation — less harmful regulation — less taxes and allow the entrepreneur spirit to create more of the enterprise in the United States,” Raczkowski said. “It’s the individual that actually hires and creates. It’s the individual that develops. There is no government in history that’s ever created a job.”
Peters and Raczkowski found common ground in immigration, with both favoring an E-Verify Internet-based system to allow business owners to easily check whether potential employees are documented. Peters doesn’t believe in amnesty for illegal immigrants and supports tougher border security and tougher penalties for employers who hire undocumented workers. Raczkowski doesn’t support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and wants English to be the official language.
The 9th District includes most of Oakland County, including Farmington Hills, Pontiac, Rochester Hills and Troy. The district is about 80 percent white, 11 percent black and 8 percent Asian. Twenty-six percent of residents have a college degree or higher, according to the 2009 American Community Survey. The winner of the election will land a 2-year term and salary of $174,000.
The debate comes as Peters and Raczkowski have been on the attack in ads and as well in the courtroom. Peters’ television ad that debuted in September highlights a lawsuit filed against Raczkowski, former chairman and CEO of Star Tickets, accusing him of a “concert ticket scheme that bilked his partners out of $6 million.”
In response, Raczkowski, a Farmington Hills resident, filed a defamation lawsuit in Oakland Circuit Court against Peters and Mark Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party.
On the issues, Raczkowski believes in reducing government, extending tax cuts for all and less government regulation to promote the growth of private businesses. Peters defends his votes for the auto bailout and stimulus funding. He said he’d vote to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for those making $250,000 or less, and a temporary extension for those making more than $250,000.
The debate, lasting nearly 1.5 hours, was sponsored by the League of Women Voters Oakland Area and Oakland University. It was moderated by Free Press Columnist Brian Dickerson. Also on the panel of questioners were Nolan Finley, editorial page editor of the Detroit News, Stephen Henderson from the Free Press and Roger Larocca, an assistant professor at Oakland University.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101010/METRO/10100315/Peters--Raczkowski-find-little-common-ground-in-debate-over-health-care--jobs#ixzz120YfvjLj