Mumpower, Shuler share views on issues facing WNC, nation

Published 5:26 pm Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Carl MumpowerHeath Shuler&bsp;What would be your primary goals to improve the lives of residents in U.S. House District 11 and how would you achieve those goals?

Mumpower (R): The most important role of a Congressman is not in Washington ‐ it is at home, helping people solve problems and negotiate through the Federal bureaucracy. Our staff will concentrate on constituent services versus assuring my reelection. In Washington, the goals and responsibilities are clear ‐ to fight the waste, corruption, and political nonsense that characterizes national leadership, from both parties, too often devoted to special interests over the common good. A central priority is to honestly uphold conservative values with the same consistency and courage that I have repeatedly demonstrated in resisting the excesses of Asheville&squo;s liberal city council and the betrayal of principles by my own party. The Republican Party is founded on the core priorities of protecting the country ‐ including our borders, limiting the intrusions of government on our lives, and being careful with other people&squo;s money and values. I do not stray from those missions regardless of pressures from my party&squo;s power structure or other forces. My opponent talks as a conservative at home, but votes 86% of the time in Washington as a liberal in lockstep with his party. He is an active participant in what I call the &squo;Buy America Plan&squo; with over 300 lobby group contributors who have purchased access and loyalty to assure his reelection. I have accepted no PAC, lobbyist, special interest or even party money and will never do so going forward. I will win or lose through hard work and the support of individual contributions only. This priority is important to assure that our District&squo;s Representative can go to Washington and uphold the interests of the people of WNC versus special or selfish interests. As a true conservative, I can be counted on to resist misguided foreign entanglements, intrusions on our liberties, and assaults on our treasury by any power group. Shuler (D): My goals remain the same as they were two years ago: protecting the security of the United States; creating jobs in WNC and making America energy independent by investing in sustainable, renewable energy sources; and balancing the federal budget and reducing the national debt by eliminating wasteful spending.

I will always support the funding our brave men and women in uniform need to safely and successfully carry out their missions. In Congress I have also worked to improve the health care received by those who serve our nation, both during and after their service.

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To balance the federal budget I have fought to reduce wasteful spending and to prioritize our nation&squo;s spending to ensure that we are making strong investments in future generations, while not burdening them with a massive national debt. I was proud to work with my Blue Dog colleagues to restore Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) budgeting at the beginning of the 110th Congress, which requires that any new government spending be fully paid for, so that it will not add to the national debt. What do you think should be done to improve the economy of the nation and, specifically, Western North Carolina?

Mumpower (R): There are dangerous days ahead that will require a level of maturity, courage and concern for one another that has not been a cultural priority in America for some time. Solutions to our national economic woes will not be found in growing government, mortgaging the futures of our children and grandchildren, or throwing more borrowed money at our problems. Improving our economy will require changes in our political and business system as a whole. Reforming our tax code (the FairTax holds promise), challenging our rigged versus free trade agreements, and restraining the appetites of government are good beginnings. Enforcing our borders and illegal immigration laws will do more to immediately create jobs for Americans than any single thing we can do. Regulation helps only if it preserves the honesty, accountability, and transparency of our free market economy not if, like most government regulations, it supports support special interests. Our inflationary monetary policies are destroying the value of the dollar and our economic foundation. Companies that build, grow, mine, and export deserve our best incentives and support. These are the companies that will keep us competitive in a tough world economy and provide good jobs for the people of WNC and create new wealth and prosperity necessary to sustain a strong middle class. Our education system is also a key to our economic vitality. Washington and Raleigh, in cooperation with teacher&squo;s associations, bureaucrats, attorneys, and special interest groups have kidnapped our public education system ‐ control should be returned to local communities. Shuler (D):To improve our economy we must work to protect the middle class and create jobs in the global economy of the 21st Century we must maintain a first-rate educational system and a well-trained work force.

We must also continue fighting against the free trade agreements, like NAFTA and CAFTA, which have shipped thousands of our jobs overseas. In Congress I have stood up against new free trade agreements that have been proposed, and I have worked to ensure that our trade agreements are fair, keep jobs in the U.S., and protect American workers and their families.

I have also worked to close the unfair tax loopholes for companies that send jobs overseas. While closing these unfair loopholes, I have fought to keep taxes low on American families and businesses to promote economic growth. Do you support the&bsp;efforts made so far by the current administration to&bsp;rescue the economy?

Mumpower (R): &bsp; No ‐ I do not believe we can print or borrow enough money to resolve this world beating financial crisis. That Congress could not pass a bailout package without loading it with pork and special deals illuminates one system problem ‐ a government who cannot restrain an addiction to spendingShuler (D):I opposed the Wall Street bailout plan because it failed to address the root problems or make the fundamental reforms to the system needed to prevent this situation from arising again. As we continue to work through this fiscal crisis I will continue pressing for greater oversight, accountability and transparency, and I will demand vigorous enforcement of existing laws through the Securities and Exchange Commission so we do not find ourselves in this situation again.What&bsp;specific plans would you propose&bsp;to help the country achieve greater energy independence and make energy more affordable?

Mumpower (R): We can begin recapturing our energy policy from self-serving politicians, environmental extremists, and corrupt business interests. Unlike my opponent, I support drilling our best oil and gas reserves as soon as possible, including off-shore, ANWAR, and my own back yard if necessary. Our transportation based economy is in jeopardy, but the high costs of fuel also have major impact on families, elderly residents on fixed incomes, and others who are struggling to heat their homes. I support alternatives energies ‐ I had a solar panel on my home in the seventies ‐ but there is a difference between rational green technologies and fantasies. Corn based ethanol would be an example of the latter. America&squo;s energy independence is crucial to our future and we need a comprehensive energy policy now. My opponent and his party talk green to please the environmental lobby. I believe we need to take the talk to action and be realistic with the reality that most of us are going to be driving cars and heating our homes with gasoline, natural gas, propane, coal generated electricity, and fuel oil for many years to come. Another major cause of the high cost of fuel is the inflationary monetary policies, budgetary excesses, and deficit spending in Washington. As they kill the value of the dollar, the costs of fuels is forced up.&bsp; Ultimately, I believe the sun will be our energy savior. Shuler (D):We must end the partisan bickering and create a comprehensive energy policy that looks toward the technologies of tomorrow. Our nation&squo;s energy policy must focus on innovation, conservation, and research and development in sustainable fuels and other 21st Century technologies, like wind and solar power. In Congress I have worked to achieve these goals. Progress has been made, but we must do more. We must work together to find a solution that will help us today and benefit the generations to come. &bsp;Do you support drilling off the North Carolina coast?

Mumpower (R): Yes, but what is realistically &squo;no drill bill&squo; shenanigans by my opponent and his party realistically limit drilling to 50 and even 100 miles off shore and only with the permission of neighboring states. We need to drill our best, most accessible and thus most affordable reserves. We know how to drill and protect our environment at the same time. Shuler (D): North Carolina is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches and waterways in the nation, and our economy depends on the preservation of these important natural resources. Therefore I support limits on drilling near our shoreline. I also believe that if any drilling is conducted off the coast of North Carolina, the people of North Carolina should benefit with revenue sharing provisions similar to the current policies in the Gulf Coast.What would you do to make health care accessible and affordable for more people?

Mumpower (R):Unlike my opponent, I do not see government as the answer to our health care issues. Their history of success with Medicare, Medicaid, and Public Housing does not merit additional control over our lives.&bsp; In America today we have a hybrid of socialized medicine and free market medicine controlled by politicians, attorneys, the medical lobby, and other special interests. The result is an overregulated system that too often is neither accessible nor affordable. 80% of our health care needs could be covered with a nurse, a computer, and a pharmacy without any loss in quality of care. This and other interventions would require that we reach for our strength ‐ the free market to increase competition and bring costs down. Ultimately, the best and most affordable health care policy is individual responsibility that finds us eating right, exercising, and assuming a strong measure of personal responsibility for our wellness. Shuler (D):It is morally unacceptable that there are nearly 47 million Americans living without health insurance, almost 9 million of whom are children. I was proud to support an increase of the State Children&squo;s Health Insurance Program to help ensure every American child receives the medical care they need. Ensuring that all Americans have affordable access to health care requires a comprehensive solution that reduces the overall cost of health care. This can be done by improving the use of information technology for record keeping and communications, expanding purchasing pools for small businesses, and implementing disease management and preventive care techniques. Is there any legislation you would propose or that&squo;s currently under consideration&bsp;that would&bsp;provide more financial support and stability for small hospitals such as St. Luke&squo;s Hospital?

Mumpower (R): No ‐ the answers to our community hospital&squo;s financial problems do not rest in more Federal deficit spending. What will help is stopping the Federal government from passing down heavy handed unfunded mandates (opening emergency rooms to abuse) and underfunding Federal programs (Medicaid and Medicare) in a way that overburdens our hospitals. I am not interested in encouraging Washington to dole out more community welfare to our hospitals when their excessive control and cost shifting is the source of harm. My opponent likes earmarks and will no doubt promise help from Washington. He has voted against every effort to reform earmark abuses because he, like most politicians, wants to ingratiate himself to Polk County and others with money from an imaginary bucket in Washington. I want to go to Washington to fight for real solutions, not handouts.Shuler (D): Our hospitals are crucial to growth of our rural communities. Since being elected to Congress in 2006, I have secured significant funding for many of our hospitals to make equipment, facilities, and improved technology. I will continue working to ensure our hospitals receive the funding they need to operate and care for the people of Western North Carolina.

Additionally, I was proud to support HR 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which extends some grant programs for rural hospitals that provide critical access. This bill was signed into law.Do you support stricter laws and policies to curb illegal immigration? If so, what policies do you believe are most effective?

Mumpower (R): Illegal immigration is the greatest law breaking scheme in America&squo;s history ‐ supported equally by both parties in Washington. Before we pass new laws, we need to demonstrate a willingness to enforce existing laws. We must start with holding accountable those employers who fuel the flood of illegals with jobs and money. Too many of our companies want to stay in America, but pay low wages by bringing Mexico here. Our country has historically absorbed 250,000 legal immigrants a year. We are taking in one million legal immigrants a year now and about that many illegally. We cannot absorb those numbers without putting our culture and economy at risk. We will not help the poor countries of the world by becoming just like them. One of my greatest frustrations with illegal immigration rests on wage suppression and our drop-out rate. Companies are exploiting illegals to keep wages low and the rest of us are picking up the tab in increased social service, health care, crime prevention, and other costs. We have a 30% drop-out rate in America today ‐ 50% for minorities ‐ and an even higher mental drop-out rate reflected in the number of students who graduate without the skills they need to function in a tough world. American companies, without their cheap imported labor pool, would have to pay decent wages to legal citizens and fight to uplift our own children. I am persistent in fighting illegal immigration in Asheville with action and impact. My opponent talks against illegal immigration, but there is a difference in motion and action.&bsp; Illegal immigration enforcement is the best, fastest, and cheapest jobs program available. Any culture that fails to protect its borders and uphold the rule of law is pursuing a path toward self-destruction. I will not be passive with this issue in Washington. Shuler (D): I authored the Secure America through Verification and Enforcement (SAVE) Act, which is a commonsense, three-part solution to stop illegal immigration. First, the SAVE Act calls for improved border security with more Border Patrol Agents, fencing in urban areas, and increased use of electronic monitoring in rural areas. Second, it calls for expanded enforcement of existing laws through better funding and more personnel. Finally, the SAVE Act expands the E-Verify program over four years to ensure that every person working in the U.S. is legally allowed to do so. I will continue to lead the effort to solve this problem. Do you support the completion of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and the creation of a National Park Service site at Alexander&squo;s Ford in Polk County?

Mumpower (R): Certainly, but not if it requires that we spend dollars borrowed from China that will add more burden to future generations. There is a difference in nice and necessary and there is a difference in a candidate who talks conservative and walks conservative. In these tough and about to get tougher economic times, it is irresponsible for us to spend money, time, and energy on anything but the most essential government functions. I do not have access to my opponent&squo;s response, but I would anticipate his enthusiastic support for this community interest ‐ I will be delighted if I am wrong. My commitment is to our collective interests and those who come later ‐ this is not the time to be reaching into the Treasury, no matter how strong the merits of these good initiatives. Thank you for this opportunity to share my positions on these and other important issues and to differentiate myself from my opponent. These questions have provided ample room to demonstrate my authentic commitment to conservative principles, resistance to special interests over the common good, and concern with waste, big government appetites, and deficit spending. I will keep my word in Washington and never put my party, power, popularity, or my own interests ahead of my responsibilities to the people of WNC. Shuler (D): The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail is an important resource to commemorate the actions of the Patriot mountain militia during the Revolutionary War. I support the continued efforts and partnerships to make the Trail more accessible and ensure it remains a useful tool to pass on our history and heritage to future generations.