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Walden, segers face off again in Second Congressional District race
Both candidates recognize U.S. debt problem, but have vastly different solutions
October 08, 2012
During the next two years, Congress will face a variety of challenges including a multi-trillion-dollar debt, elevated unemployment, and the implementation of national health care.
Republican incumbent Greg Walden and Democratic challenger Joyce B. Segers both feel qualified to take on those and other challenges, and are battling for voter approval to lead Oregon’s Second Congressional District into the future.
Regarding the national debt, which has reached about $16 trillion, Walden feels a balanced budget requirement would rein in the deficit. So far, no such requirement exists in the Constitution, but Walden says he has always supported a balanced budget amendment and will continue to push for it.
“I think it is really important to pass a budget that puts America on a path toward a balanced budget and eventually paying off our debt,” he said. “I think it (an unbalanced budget) is one of the biggest threats to our economy and country.”
Walden acknowledged that such a plan would have to include budget cuts. He does not see how the United States can continue its current spending level without going broke.
“Right now, the federal government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that gets spent, and that’s just not sustainable.”
Segers approaches the problem with a drastically different philosophy. She believes the best way to cut the deficit is to continue investing in small businesses and education.
“One of the biggest problems is that with so many people out of work, they are not paying taxes into the system,” she said. “It might sound strange, and I know economists might disagree on this, but I do believe that we might have to go further into debt in order to help people in small businesses who are really struggling at this point . . . We need to start that flow of money once more.”
Segers wants to provide small business loans to help boost the job market. She has noticed a desire among Oregonians to try and strike out on their own when starting a business, and she feels those loans would help people get started.
To further aid potential entrepreneurs, Segers would like to focus on business education.
“There is a wonderful organization called Main Street Alliance, and it began here in Oregon,” she said. “They are helping people become more educated on how to have a small business stay successful.”
Walden believes the key to job creation lies in the utilization of Oregon’s natural resources, particularly the forests. He has worked on legislation to increase access to national forestlands in order to boost timber harvests as well as improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfires.
“I think you see some of the last remaining mills being threatened with closure,” he said. “That’s not good for anybody.”
Along with the economy, federal health care continues to spark debate as portions of the Affordable Care Act take effect. Segers, who ran a medical billing company for 20 years, likes much of what the legislation did — particularly the mandate for insurance companies to no longer withhold coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions.
At the same time, she believes the country would benefit from a program that opens access to Medicare for all citizens.
“If you allow people to buy into it at current rates and availability, you would be infusing a new population of healthy people into the system that would be putting in all of these premiums, and the claims would not be there,” she said, “so you would have a really good way to make Medicare stronger and make it available.”
Segers stressed that her plan, unlike the Affordable Care Act, would not come with a mandate to carry insurance.
“People should always have the right to buy whatever insurance they are most comfortable with,” she said.
Walden does not support the nationalization of health care in any form, and he feels there is a better way to provide people with affordable coverage. He would like to create a program that allows insurance companies to compete for the business of private citizens and employers.
“We have done that with Medicare Part D, the drug plan, where we have held costs down 40 percent below what was estimated,” he said.