Iott, Kaptur prepare for Oct. 11 debateWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rich Iott, a Republican, fed up with the way federal government is being run, and encouraged by his wife Chris, entered the Congressional race.
While, Democrat Marcy Kaptur, who has served for 28 years, said seniority is her “only weapon.”
Both Congresswoman Kaptur and her opponent Iott hope to represent Ohio’s 9th Congressional District for the next two years come Election Day in November.
Iott boasts that he’s not a career politician and believes there are a number of first-time politicians seeking office around the country this year just like him.
“I think people have woken up and see it’s become the government. It’s the government telling us what to do and how we’re going to live our lives. But it’s not the government, it’s our government. We need to take our government back,” he said.
Iott is a supporter of term limits and said seniority is “overrated.” If elected Iott pledges to only serve three terms.
“[Seniority] is part of the problem,” he said. “We have people who have lengthy relationships of you vote for mine, I’ll vote for yours… that’s exactly what gets us into earmarks for bridges to nowhere, teapot museums and so on.
“When you go there not as a career politician but as a citizen statesman, for lack of a better term, you look at things in a whole different light … You look at [a piece of legislation] and say ‘I’m here to represent the people in my district, how do people in my district want me to vote?,’” Iott said. “No. 1, is it constitutional? Are we supposed to be voting on this at all, is it any business of the government? [No. 2] is it moral? There are a lot of things that are right and legal, but aren’t necessarily moral …And No. 3, what do my constituents want me to do? After you answer those three questions then you vote.”
Iott doesn’t care what the individual’s intentions are, no one can be in Congress for an extended period of time without getting sucked into the system, he said.
“For a region like ours, seniority and getting re-elected to two year terms continuously is the only weapon we have. Endurance is the only weapon I have in my quiver that can get us some equity when the playing field is so unlevel nationally,” Kaptur said.
The Ohio 9th Congressional District is different than other districts around the country — it’s not a capital or a financial hub, Kaptur said. The district doesn’t receive as much federal funding as other areas of the country, so when the economy is down
the area faces it head-on, she said.
Kaptur said her life is a “constant fight to get any type of equity for this region.”
A high-ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Kaptur will rise to No. 2 if re-elected. Her position on the committee gives her power to help the district, she said. Kaptur can contact government agencies and have a phone call returned right away versus if she was just a regular member of Congress, she said.
“I get a really good response … they are very interested in working with the legislative branch and the people that sit on the committee that their administrative powers rest on your appropriating power,” Kaptur said.
Kaptur said she stays in touch with her constituency by coming home every weekend and attending a variety of functions. Kaptur meets with various groups, businesses and individuals keeping her up-to-date with the districts concerns.
Through the years, Kaptur has tried to promote and assist high-tech industries in the region.
“If I find a high-tech company that I think has potential we try to help it grow. If its growth path is impeded by lack of research dollars, which is what we faced with the solar industry, we try to help them reach the level of competition,” Kaptur said.
Kaptur has tried to help the University of Toledo expand its research departments in an attempt to create more high tech jobs in the region.
“I’ve tried to help our university get stronger in development because we know that 60 percent of the technologies that result in new jobs are born in university research,” she said. “Whether it’s plant sciences, whether it’s automotive industry, whether it is medical pharmaceutical, whether it’s positioning ourselves as a multi modal transportation and distribution hub … we’re picking sectors where we think we have strength to help create the jobs of the future.”
Iott believes the federal government is not supposed to fund the development of business. As an example Iott cited the development of solar and wind technologies.
“We keep throwing billions and billions of taxpayer dollars into [solar and wind energy], but those business have proven to not be commercially viable,” he said. “And for an individual or any group of individuals in government to say, ‘I like this. This is the newest fad I’m going to make this work.’ You can’t make it work in the free market. The free market has to make it work. As soon as someone can make a buck doing it, it’s going to happen.”
Iott believes the government should get out of businesses and let businesses do what they do, he said. Iott said government can’t create jobs, but can create the environment for business, which can then create jobs.
Iott said one way to help businesses is to cut taxes and regulations.
“With U.S. taxes and regulatory compliances, all the hoops and alphabet soup agencies, why would you build a plant here? People say we have [government] incentives for business to go overseas. I haven’t seen any evidence of that. We do incent them to go overseas with taxes and regulation. The cost of doing business here is what’s so bad, not the labor,” he said. “Let the free enterprise system work. If you can’t work within that and you fail that’s real life.”
Iott has criticized Kaptur for her support of earmarks. He said earmarks actually hurt the creation of jobs and contribute to the out-of-control spending in Washington.
“The Harvard business school released a study just this spring that definitively lays out the fact when you have federal money coming in for projects what ultimately happens is you stifle private investment. When the federal money goes away, guess what? The jobs go away,” he said.
Iott argues that for every check Kaptur brings back to the region she’s voted for thousands of dollars being spent elsewhere in the country.
“Bottom line is we’re broke. We have to stop spending. It’s just that simple,” he said.
Kaptur has stated previously that “I have the right to fight for my district. I have the right to fight for my state and I do. When they say earmark … earmark has come to be kind of an ugly word. For me, it’s actually supporting the advancement of something in my district — an interest in my district and that’s my job.”
Kaptur agrees with Iott that the government needs to try and cut government spending. Kaptur, who was part of the group that helped balance the budget in the 1990s, understands what needs to be done.
“I know how that can be done. It’s very hard to do it when two wars are being conducted and because of what happened with the housing meltdown, you have a great recession,” she said. “Now’s the time when government has to be a partner with the American people, not abandon them at the time of greatest need.
“So the spending has gone up yes, for three reasons; one, because of unemployment; two, because of the wars; and three because the housing crisis has created such a downdraft across the entire economy because the cost of that was placed on the American people.”
Kaptur said the government needs to help the economy now and then withdraw as it picks up again. She said to combat the deficit the rate of expenditures should be brought down and believes nothing should be off the table for cuts, including defense.
Kaptur said the government is contracting many services the military could do in-house for cheaper. Kaptur is also a supporter of PAYGO, if the government adds a program it has an offset for the funds, she said.
While both Kaptur and Iott believe tax cuts should be extended to the middle class, Kaptur thinks the cap should be only $250,000 for joint filers and $200,000 for individuals and Iott believes all of Bush’s tax cuts need to be extended.
“If those tax cuts aren’t reinstated we effectively have the largest tax history … It’s not going to cost the government any money. They don’t get any of that money now. There’s no cost involved in extending those,” Iott said.
Kaptur argues that if tax cuts are extended to those who make more than the $250,000 cap, it would contribute $700 billion to the federal deficit.
What needs to be done
If elected, both candidates’ main focus will be jobs. Iott’s second concern will be repealing the health care bill, while Kaptur will focus on fixing the housing industry.
“We have to repeal the heath care bill. The majority of people want that done …We’re seeing things happen I think the administration didn’t think was going to happen for a year or two as insurance rates skyrocket, Iott said. “They’re bracing for the cost that they see coming from this … And businesses are sitting on their hands right now. They don’t know what’s going to happen and want to be in a cash strong position next year.
“We have to repeal it. If we can’t, we just shouldn’t fund it and let it starve to death.”
Kaptur believes if the issue of housing is dealt with the economy will grow.
“I think anything we can do to help the economy grow, the private economy grow and deal with the housing crisis, we should explore,” she said. “I don’t know of any recovery in modern history that hasn’t been led by real estate.”
Kaptur believes the executive branch and the legislature are ignoring the true reality of the housing industry and it needs to be addressed.
“I don’t believe it’s only the fault of the individual homeowner. I think Wall Street built a scheme to bilk people. I think our government at the highest levels should investigate those companies aggressively and create a counter pressure for them to renegotiate these loans for those that can be saved,” she said.
Kaptur said Congress needs to explore its options to help the real estate industry recover. She currently has a bill that would allow individuals in trouble with their mortgage to explore a rent-to-own option with their lenders, she said.
On Oct. 11, Marcy Kaptur and Richard Iott will meet for their final debate hosted by Toledo Free Press and FOX Toledo.
The debate will start at 7 p.m. in FOX Toledo’s lobby. Seating is limited, with each candidate receiving 20 tickets to distribute. The debate will air live on FOX Toledo.