To assist voters in making their decisions on who should represent them for U.S. Representative from Indiana’s 2nd District, The Tribune today is publishing candidates’ answers to important questions.
Brendan Mullen, a South Bend native who studied at West Point and served with the Army in Iraq, is the Democratic candidate for Indiana’s 2nd congressional district. He lives in Granger.
Joe Ruiz is the Libertarian candidate running for Indiana’s 2nd congressional district. He works with at-risk youths at the Family and Children’s Center. He lives in Mishawaka.
Jackie Walorski, who represented the 21st District in the Indiana House of Representatives (2004-2010), is the Republican candidate for Indiana’s 2nd congressional district. She lives in Jimtown.
Q: If the economy were again to teeter on the brink of depression, would you support a plea by either President Barack Obama or President Mitt Romney for a stimulus effort through infrastructure projects? If so, what type of projects and with what safeguards against waste? If not, what other steps would you support in such a crisis?
MULLEN: We can’t afford another economic crisis in this country, and we need to learn from our mistakes.
After my service in the , I helped start two small businesses, met budgets and helped create jobs. Washington could learn a thing or two from Indiana small businesses like mine.
We should start by making Washington listen to business owners and members of our communities, so plans will protect the middle class and help create jobs. Targeted in transportation, entrepreneurship and small businesses that create jobs could be one part of the equation. But every dollar spent must be shown to create jobs and must not be wasted. The federal government should handle its budget like middle class families and small business owners.
Washington must slash wasteful spending. As an officer, I supervised a large budget. My team and I identified numerous ways to cut waste, saving taxpayers money. Every year, billions of dollars are blown because faceless bureaucrats authorize spending on out-of-date, useless programs. We need to stop this wasteful spending by examining and fixing our Federal Procurement system and run the federal government like we run businesses and our families’ finances, in the black.
RUIZ: Stimulus efforts have only proven to be temporary solutions (if that). My answer would be “No.” For a nation $16 trillion in debt, further stimulus could be funded only by borrowing more (which means more debt) or by printing the additional money. Printing or increasing the money supply could result in higher inflation. For the American consumer that means that everyday goods and services could become more expensive.
Some might propose higher taxes to front the bill. But why should American taxpayers feel obligated to have more of their earned income taken by an institution that has been so irresponsible with its money in the past?
Government stimulus programs do nothing more than heighten the problem while delaying it for some other president/Congress. Representatives should — and I will — actively seek ways to cut spending across the board while at the same time empowering people to use private (non-government) solutions.
WALORSKI: With our country’s debt approaching $16 trillion, Congress needs to focus on getting our fiscal house in order and balancing the budget. President Obama’s first stimulus has been a failure.
Despite spending nearly a trillion dollars, our nation continues to lose jobs. I opposed the bailouts and the stimulus. I believe small businesses create jobs, not the government. We need to reduce taxes and excessive regulations on our small businesses to create an economic environment that allows them to grow and create jobs.
Q: Many ways are proposed to fix Social Security for decades ahead. There also are proposals to turn instead to private investment plans. Can Social Security as we now know it be fixed? Or if you favor turning to private alternatives, what would they be and what would they provide?
MULLEN: Hoosier seniors earned secure retirements with lifetimes of hard work building our country. But Washington politicians have been reckless with our spending and raided the Social Security trust fund. Unless we balance the budget, Washington will continue to raid the trust fund, putting Social Security at risk not only for future generations, but current retirees. Congress can’t go after this important safety net for seniors when our budgets are fundamentally riddled with perks and privileges for career politicians and the corporate special interests that bankroll them.
I oppose any plan to privatize Social Security. Independent studies show that privatization will only increase our deficit, cut benefits, or both. Anyone with a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan can tell you the past decade has been tough on their investments and personal retirement savings. I am a firm believer in a free market and the opportunities it holds for those willing to risk their own money, but exposing Social Security to those same market forces is just bad policy.
RUIZ: It is so disappointing to see how our government has mismanaged Social Security. However, seeing it do so actually provides the best defense for private alternatives. In fact, it is difficult to find any program that our government has not become careless with on a long enough time line. Or, if it hasn’t yet, history would suggest that it eventually will. A representative should — and I will — fight for two things in the area of Social Security.
First, libertarians believe in upholding contracts. For those currently utilizing Social Security as well as those quickly approaching retirement who have spent their lives paying into the system, we need to honor our agreements. While in Congress I will initiate a discussion to determine which ages we can continue to support while also discussing how we can transition away from the program — restoring the power to the individuals.