Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

October 22, 2008


Host: Ted Simons

Congressional District 5 Debate

  |   Video
  • Democratic incumbent Harry Mitchell faces off against challengers Republican David Schweikert and Libertarian Warren Severin in a debate of Arizona's Congressional District Five candidates.
Guests:
  • Harry Mitchell - U.S. Congressman and Democratic candidate
  • David Schweikert - Republican candidate
  • Warren Severin - Libertarian candidate


View Transcript
Ted Simons:
>> Good evening, and thanks for joining us tonight on "Horizon." I’m Ted Simons. In the news today, Wall Street took another big fall, as investors worry about a weakening global economy. The Dow Jones fell 515 points, or about four percent. Several signs pointed to a weakening global economy. A jump in the dollar, falling -- discouraging profit forecasts.

Ted Simons:
>> For years, Arizona’s congressional district five was largely a safe republican seat. That changed last election when a democratic wave helped unseat the Republican. This year, Democrat Harry Mitchell hopes to retain his seat. Mitchell is an Arizona native. The former teacher has served as Tempe mayor, in the Arizona state senate, and now in congress. He is married and has two children and five grandchildren. Republican David Schweikert has served in the Arizona house, as Maricopa county treasurer, and as chair of the state equalization board. He is married and lives in fountain hills, where he and his wife run a real estate business. Libertarian Warren Severin is a resident of Ahwatukee. He is a computer engineer. Severin has run for office before and has held positions within the libertarian party. He is married, has three children, and two grandchildren, with a third on the way.

Ted Simons:
>> We drew lots just minutes ago to determine the order of our one-minute opening statements, and we begin with Harry Mitchell.

Harry Mitchell:
>> thank you very much, Ted. I appreciate being here. I appreciate channel 8 and “horizon" offering this public service so people can get to know what is going on with the election. This is an election time that i think most people are excited about. We have seen record numbers of people voting in presidential primaries, record numbers of people registering to vote, and record numbers of people watching the presidential debates. There is a tremendous interest, and as it should be. With all of the concerns facing this nation and this state, it is great to be here, and I thank everyone for their opportunity to be here and discuss the important issues of this campaign.

Ted Simons:
>> Thank you. David Schweikert.


David Schweikert:
>> Ted, always one of those joys to be on "horizon." I’ve had the pleasure of being in the leadership of the state legislature, chairing the board of equalization, and county treasurer. Running for congress, you realize what an incredibly important election this is, and the issues we have tried to focus on is number one, the economy. How do you deal with this sort of job situation, with the crash of our retirement savings, what is our future going to be like, and how do you bring back an environment of ethics to this congress. And that is our goal is to try to tell that story.

Ted Simons:
>> All right. David, thank you. Warren.

Warren Severin:
>> I want to thank you for including me in this debate. I want -- I hope that people will learn a little about libertarian philosophy as they go through the discussion this evening. As a libertarian, i believe in personal freedom, tied with personal responsibility, strong national defense, free markets, limited self-government -- limited government, self-ownership, and live and let live party. We are going to see how that philosophy works into government tonight I hope.

Ted Simons:
>> thank you very much. Let's get the questions started. Congressman, we will start with you. The government's reaction to the financial crisis. What is your take on it?

Harry Mitchell:
>> Well, I think we all know that we are at a real crisis, real emergency situation, the government had to do something. What was important, of course, we passed a bill. This bill I might add was passed on a huge bipartisan support. Limited the excessive amounts of money that corporate financiers were getting. This is important. We put oversight and accountability measures in the bill. The important thing, this wasn’t really a wall street problem as it was a credit problem. We need to bring out confidence in our markets, people trusting each other and borrowing again. It affects small businesses, homeowners, students, it is not just Wall Street. It affects Main Street.

Ted Simons:
>> your take on the financial crisis.

David Schweikert:
>> in some ways this is the single most important issue that has been in front of this congress in decades, or of our lifetime. I wish congress had taken a big breath and not necessarily added another trillion dollars of debt to the backs of taxpayers and there are better ways to do it. If you hear us talk about, well, it is a problem on main street, but if you look at the way the bailout has been done, not enough has been designed to help main street. Yes, we had to do things in liquidity, i think the package was fairly poorly designed.
Ted Simons:
>> There were two versions, first version, second version. How would you have voted?

David Schweikert:
>> I would have voted no on both of them. Version two was version one with pork.

Harry Mitchell:
>> what I did with version two, and i think it is important, if you had voted against the second version, which was a vital one, you would have been voting against halting the a.l.t., alternative minimum tax. If we had not done that, 22 million taxpayers would have had a heavier tax burden. You would have voted to increase big oil subsidies, you would have voted to decrease, not extend solar tax credits. This was an important bill that was important for not only our valley, but our state. It did more to i think try to encourage people to have confidence, it had tax credits, not only for businesses, but for -- for individuals as well as all of the alternative sources of energy. This was important.

Ted Simons:
>> Was the first version so flawed that it deserved a no vote? A lot of money minds were something has to be done. Just do this and we will vote on it later.

Harry Mitchell:
>> We got a 100 page bill within 24 hours to deal with $700 billion. That wasn't enough time to look at it or have any kind of input. It was too quick. We voted no. What was good about it, there was a two-day break. People came home, there were changes made in the senate. We came back after finding out what was going on at home, looking at the reaction of the market, 58 people changed votes, Shadegg, Kyl, McCain all voted in favor of this.

Ted Simons:
>> is there anything that the government can still do now that would pass muster with you?

David Schweikert:
>> Absolutely. Back to one of the points there. Those enhancers, sweeteners, they had already passed through the house. That is a little bit of a con. Pack them into one bill and make it more palatable to vote for something that many of the congressmen had already said no to. One of the things i really wish congress had taken a look at were ideas such as taking part of your home mortgage interest, a little portion of it, and make it a tax credit. One of the crises we're having right now, the underlying commodity, our home values, continue to fall. We must address stabilizing home values, or the bailout today has another bailout tomorrow, because mortgages continue to go into foreclosure.

Ted Simons:
>> Government’s reaction to the financial crisis, how do you see it?


Warren Severin:
>> I tell you what, i wouldn’t have voted for either of the packages the way they passed. I think it was way overly hasty. Wall street ran into a problem, ran to Washington, can I have a whole lot of money, please. Washington, sure -- that is going on the national debt, we will take it from 10 to 11 trillion. We never got to see what creative people faced with their own self-preservation on wall street could have come up with to alleviate their own inner borrowing situation. I would have loved to have given that a little longer and seen what came out of it.

Ted Simons:
>> All right.

Harry Mitchell:
>> I was going to say, I think what we have seen is how this trickles down and affects individual jobs. Unemployment going up. Bill herd Chevrolet in Scottsdale, they had 14 dealerships around the country, and they closed the doors. No credit. They couldn't buy inventory. Customers couldn't get credit. 148 jobs lost in Scottsdale, 2,800 nationwide with that one company. What is important to make sure that we had credit. This is going on day by day. I think this is the only way that we might have -- there might be other ways, but the important thing, tax credit where people can start borrowing.

Ted Simons:
>> Last point on this. Would it have been better if government had done nothing?

David Schweikert:
>> Oh, no, government had to inject here. The reality of it -- Bill Herd Chevrolet went out of business. The proof is in the pudding. I believe over time it is going to get better. You see Paulson moving towards one of the alternative proposals, which is purchasing of preferred stock because of the multiplier. That was one of the things that got shot down in the original discussion. It is amazing how you see the migration to what were some of the alternatives.

Ted Simons:
>> Let’s move to energy. Can we drill our way out of dependency on foreign oil?

David Schweikert:
>> oh, of course not. But we can drill our way into a much higher level of sovereignty. Today you have OPEC meeting to restrain supply. Remember, OPEC is a cartel. Crude oil is not a true free market commodity. OPEC today is literally allowing production equal to what they were doing 20 years ago. We have restrained product. Why wouldn't you bring your own supply to market so that you are not beholding to folks on the other side of the ocean?

Ted Simons:
>> How much should offshore drilling, anwar, all of these places, should that be a part of our future?
Harry Mitchell:
>> We need to expand -- i voted with the majority, continue a resolution. There is no ban whatsoever now on offshore oil drilling. Three miles out, they can drill today. That's there. But I think the important thing is to wean ourself off of foreign oil, to invest into alternative sources, and better than right here in Arizona talking about solar. In order for us to become energy independent, which means it is in our own national security, we have got to invest. What we have just done -- people say they would have voted against this recovery package. What they were saying is we don’t want any more tax credit for solar. I voted seven times for solar tax credit. It finally got passed in the last vote we took before our recess. That's important.

Ted Simons:
>> Dynamic between alternative energy and drilling for oil.

Warren Severin:
>> We can have energy independence, we can have it right now, within a reasonable development period, we don’t have the guts to do what it takes to do it. We can continue to develop nuclear. We stopped developing nuclear 30 years ago. The technology has changed. The rest of the world has gone on and developed clean, safe nuclear. We can take oil shale and find proper ways to process that. Tons of oil off the slopes, and we can have net energy independence, but we have to get government regulation out of the way.

Ted Simons:
>> Get to alternative energy in this mix as well, and your ideas there as opposed to in conjunction with drilling.

David Schweikert:
>> I’m a fan of you do everything. I'm a huge fan of solar tax credits. We should be the Mecca of solar energy. There is a little fraud played on the American people. Drilling may be allowed, but there is so much litigation that stops it, often you may hold a lease and never be able to tap that resource. If you are going to bring resources, it is everything from you are going to have to build a litigation model that builds times, incentives, and also that move us toward changing our vehicle fleet to plug-in hybrids and other alternatives.

Harry Mitchell:
>> You know what is important is the bill that Mr. Schweikert said he would have voted against included tax credits for all of those. If it would have failed, we wouldn’t get these tax credits. It also stopped -- he talks about incentivizing oil companies. They have a huge tax credit right now. What we did with this bill, we froze the tax credit for big oil. At the same time we have encouraged tax credits for all of the -- you name the alternative sources, that’s where we have put tax credits in.

David Schweikert:
>> Two things the congressman just got wrong on stating my opinion. A, the incentives had already passed out of the house. Yes, they got lumped into this bailout bill. You cannot tell me that one of the single most important bills of our generation couldn't have stood on its own and this congress, which seems to have lost its way, its ability to deal with the alternative fuel issues. Second of all, I’m not arguing to incentivize oil companies, I am arguing to stop the litigation, so if there are resources out there, we can actually get to them.

Ted Simons:
>> Let’s move to another interesting point between the three of you, the concept of earmarks. What is your position on earmarks?

Harry Mitchell:
>> First let me mention, earmarks have -- we know the problems they have caused. We have congressmen in jail for misusing those. One of the first things i did, voted on, cosponsored a bill to bring about ethics, earmark reform. Now, right now, every earmark has to go through the appropriation process, a purpose, where it is going, and more importantly, you have to identify who is asking for it. As a result, we have had 25% less earmarks this congress than the last. There needs to be improvements, no doubt about it. I remember when i was mayor, we would look and see projects we needed in Tempe, and we went to congressmen and said shouldn't we be able to ask our congressmen to help provide benefits for us? Arizona is number 50 in all of the states in getting money back from the federal government. I think we need to look at that. But we need to do it in an open, accountable way, and we have avoid -- we have tried to make it much more transparent than ever before.

Ted Simons:
>> are earmarks ever okay?

David Schweikert:
>> The problem is the process is corrupting. If you go and take a look at some of the -- the Seattle times, they show you the relationship between you placing an earmark in a bill and campaign cash coming in the back door. And, yes, the house took a run at fixing some of the earmark disclosure process, but you have seen great articles lately, it isn’t fixed. Still secret back-door earmarks moving into the process right now. If a spending issue is truly legitimate and truly needed, particularly in this time when we’re this broke, put it through the appropriation process.

Harry Mitchell:
>> Earmarks go through the appropriation process. One of the things I not only signed on and introduced a bill for, I put all of my earmarks, everything I ever asked for, every request is online. Anybody can come and see and try to make a connection if you think this is wrong. If you think it is wrong to have helped Scottsdale health care help train military trauma surgeons, then you wouldn't want this. Or help phoenix, mesa gateway airport, National Guard, interoperability between police and fire. These were all requests, and I think they were legitimate requests, everyone on the web site, and i encourage other people -- I introduced a bill to require people to put earmarks online or on the web site.
Ted Simons:
>> are earmarks ever okay?

Warren Severin:
>> I don't think we will ever get completely away from them. While I agree with Dave -- the problem so much stuff going through. What I would like to see some sort of rules in congress, limit the number of earmarks or the total dollar value of the percentage of the bill it is being attached to.

Ted Simons:
>> quickly, your position is if you can't get it through the appropriation process as you see the way it should go, the money should not come to Arizona?

David Schweikert:
>> Here is your classic problem. You may have a very legitimate use that would help our community, that makes sense, that would make it through. But for me to get those dollars, I must vote on someone's teapot museum in the Midwest. It is that trading of votes to gain these dollars that make earmarks so terribly expensive. In a time where we are this much in debt, we have to be very serious about spending, it is time for a revolution in congress about the sensibility on the way we spend money.

Harry Mitchell:
>> earmarks account for one-half of one percent of the total budget. It is not a cure all for the debtor problems that we're in. Secondly, I believe that earmarks should be through the appropriation process, which they are. What we are trying to do is expose them, make them transparent so people see who is asking for what. That will take care of a lot the of problems.

David Schweikert:
>> I believe the numbers are closer to the two percent of discretionary, and it just continues to explode.

Ted Simons:
>> We continue discussion with illegal immigration. I want to know what specifically you would do to address the problem of illegal immigration.

David Schweikert:
>> Right now I will tell you that the problem does not trust the elected class, particularly the folks back in Washington. Until you have a true enforcement first environment where we can demonstrate, yes, we have locked up the border, yes, we're following the current laws, I don't think we're going to be able to move on to the temporary guest worker systems and those things which we actually have to do. We need a revolution in the visa system, whether the h-1 visas or others that take care of employment needs. But I genuinely believe the public will not let us move forward until we demonstrate our intents on enforcement.

Ted Simons:
>> Specifically on illegal immigration.

Harry Mitchell:
>> One of the things we did, very proud of that, we have already voted and we are making progress -- you can't be a sovereign nation without knowing who comes in and out of your country. We added 3,000 more border patrol agents. We put $2 billion -- physical fence urban areas, virtual fence other areas. We added more money into I.C.E., immigrations custom enforcement. We also need an immigration policy, which is fair, which is rational, and one that people sit down in a bipartisan way, because it had so much rhetoric about this, in a bipartisan way to work out a problem. We are a country of immigrants, and to have this problem hang over for so long -- I supported the plan put forth by Kyl, by McCain, which never got out of the senate. We need comprehensive energy -- excuse me, comprehensive immigration policy, get away with the rhetoric and how we can best serve this nation.

Ted Simons:
>> Illegal immigration --

Warren Severin:
>> a program that is widely inclusive for all of the illegal immigrants that are here, those that want to come, you watch it up against some of the requirements from our employers with those people who want to come or are here, you do the program first, then you worry about the border. The border only has to be as secure as it needs to be so that it is harder to get over the fence than it is to use the program to get in legally and pay into the system as people should.

Ted Simons:
>> Quickly, we have 30 seconds here, does the border have to be secure before anything else is addressed?

David Schweikert:
>> Genuinely believe so. I don't believe the public trusts this congress. Two years ago, the race in this district, immigration one of the first things that was going to be taken care of, and two years later, we're having the same discussion once again.

Harry Mitchell:
>> We made progress in sealing the border. Added border patrol agents, ice agents, fencing. Moving toward that.

Ted Simons:
>> We have to stop there for closing statements. Warren, you are first and you have 30 seconds.



Warren Severin:
>> I appreciate being on the show and able to interject maybe some not so government-focused ideas. I want people to understand, own yourself, own your thoughts, don’t rely on the government for everything.

Ted Simons:
>> Next is David.

David Schweikert:
>> These are actually very difficult times. Two years ago you changed congress. Elected a democrat majority in the house and senate. How much better is your life today? How is the value of your home? How is the value of your retirement account -- I’m asking for your vote. Take a look at my web site davido8.com.

Harry Mitchell:
>> I want to thank channel 8 and Ted for hosting this. People don't normally sit around and talk about political and policy issues until election time. What is good about election time, it gets people together trying to discuss for once the important issues of our day. This program and the fact that we’re having this race gives us a chance to get together and address and have people come back and talk to the residents. So, I appreciate it very much. Thank you. I have enjoyed very much serving as your congressman.

Ted Simons:
>> Thank you very much for a nice debate here. We appreciate that. Thank you very much.

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