Debate for the 8th
Reichert, Porterfield have first go-around at WVC
Originally published October 2, 2012 at 10:34 p.m., updated October 3, 2012 at 8:54 a.m.
The debates continue
A second debate sponsored by The Wenatchee World and KOHO Radio will feature state 12th District representative candidates Cary Condotta vs. Stan Morse and Mike Armstrong vs. Brad Hawkins. It starts at Wenatchee Valley College’s Van Tassell Center at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
WENATCHEE — Karen Porterfield warned Tuesday of more “partisan politics and gridlock” if U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is returned to Congress from the newly formed 8th District, while Reichert said he’d use his seniority to enhance trade for NCW ag products.
The two campaigners — Reichert, an Auburn Republican who represented the 8th from 2005 until its redrawing to include Chelan County and East Wenatchee this year; and Porterfield, an Issaquah Democrat and management consultant who’s challenging him for the seat — met in a debate for the first time Tuesday at Wenatchee Valley College, organized by The Wenatchee World and KOHO Radio. The hourlong debate took place before some 100 onlookers and an audience viewing through the newspaper’s website.
The give-and-take ranged through topics including budget deficits, illegal immigration, national health care and legalized marijuana. While Porterfield worked to link Reichert to “the failed agenda of the Republican leadership,” Reichert defended his record and emphasized points where he departed from the House GOP course — such as his 2005 vote against a measure to let federal courts decide whether vegetative Florida patient Terri Schiavo should be maintained on life support against her husband’s wishes.
“I walked in and voted no and said, ‘You know what? The government should not have a role in deciding what happens in Terri Schiavo’s life,’” Reichert said. “That should be a decision made between God, and their doctor, and the family.”
Porterfield criticized the House failure to act on the expiring Farm Bill, the job recovery bill and other budgetary and economic matters.
“Congressman Reichert sits on Ways and Means,” Porterfield said. “That is their primary focus, and they haven’t done their jobs.”
Reichert said while Congress does act slowly, President Barack Obama has presented flawed legislation and budgets. “He has spiked our deficit to a point more than any other president in the past, and in fact, more than all presidents in the past combined, in the last four years,” Reichert said. (That popular Republican talking point has been debunked by Factcheck.org: Obama’s budget deficit is greater than Ronald Reagan’s, but less than George W. Bush’s.)
The two candidates gave their views on:
Immigration: Both agreed immigration reform must be comprehensive, but protect agricultural interests that rely on migrant pickers — the vast majority hailing from Mexico.
Reichert proposed teasing apart two key visa classifications — H-2A for seasonal farmworkers and H-1B for skilled specialists — “from the rest of the immigration problem.” Porterfield said the pathway to citizenship for working immigrants needs to be streamlined, and he H-2A category needs to be a priority.
The two differed on topics such as the DREAM Act, which proposed residency benefits for some children of illegal immigrant families, and President Barack Obama’s executive order to defer deportation of such young aliens after the act failed multiple times to pass into law.
“The DREAM Act is long overdue, and I am so glad that we have it in place,” Porterfield said incorrectly, referring to the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program set up by the executive order.
Reichert voted against the DREAM Act, and said Tuesday it lacked any mechanism to enforce the immigration changes it would have made.
“The entire immigration system is broken and needs to be totally reformed,” said Reichert. “We can’t solve the immigration problem through executive orders.”
He went on to say, “By the way, if you don’t know, people who join military service and serve our country become citizens. That’s already the law.”
(In fact, military service can expedite the citizenship process, but citizenship is not automatic.)
Taxation: The Tax Policy Center says “nearly 9 of every 10 households would pay higher taxes” if temporary cuts instituted under Obama and President George W. Bush are allowed to expire. Porterfield said Republican strategies have prevented a fair rate of taxes.
Currently, she said, “Capital is taxed at a lower rate than labor. This might have been good in 1980, when we were dealing with a supply issue and didn’t have enough capital to produce the goods and services we needed.” Today, she said, “Those corporation are awash in money, and they don’t know where to put it.”
Reichert also argued for fair taxation — including the effective tax rate for corporations, which he proposed lowering from 35 percent to 25 percent, “so that they can be competitive across this globe.”
“Yes, some may have to pay a little bit more,” he said.
Social Security and Medicare: Porterfield said Social Security’s threatened insolvency — due to arrive sometime between 2036 and 2041 — “is a problem of the Baby Boom bubble, and once we get past this bubble, we have a program that’s solvent.”
Porterfield wants the Social Security tax made more equitable, so that high earners pay into the fund at the same rate as middle- and lower-income citizens. Currently, employers and employees pay 6.2 percent and self-employed people pay 12.4 percent up to a wage base of $110,100; income beyond that level is not taxed.
Reichert said reform of both entitlement systems is crucial.
“Medicare goes bankrupt in 2024, Social Security has till 2038,” he said. “The only reasons Social Security remains solvent at all is because we continue to put IOUs in the Social Security bank for money that we borrow from China.
Medical and personal cannabis: Porterfield supports I-502, an initiative to legalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Reichert, sheriff of King County from 1997 to 2005, opposes the measure, and broadened his answer to include medical marijuana, which is legal under certain circumstances in Washington.
“I might feel better about medical marijuana if it was prescribed by a doctor in pill form,” said Reichert, whose late mother got some pain relief from prescribed tablets that included cannabis. “But to smoke marijuana for medical purposes, to me, is a joke.”
Representing NCW: The two west-side candidates acknowledged the redrawn 8th Congressional District — the first in Washington’s history to cross the Cascade Mountains — poses a big territory to represent.
“We are more alike than we’re not,” Porterfield said of the district’s two halves. This is a rural district. Our largest city is Auburn. We are an agricultural district. Whether we’re on the east side or the west side, we care about agriculture.”
Reichert noted that his son Dan Reichert lives in Monitor and runs a Cashmere business, and the Congressman has kept a part-time home near Lake Chelan since 2002.
“That’s my connection to this community, and I intend to represent it with the same fervor, the same energy and the same heart of a servant that I have on the other side of the Cascades,” he said.
Jefferson Robbins: 664-7123
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