On Monday night, dozens of people attended a forum at City High School where incumbent 3rd Congressional District Representative Vern Ehlers debated Democratic Party candidate Henry Sanchez (the Libertarian Party candidate was no there). The event, presented by a government class, was led by student questioners and moderators. Among the questions asked various topics were touched on including issues such as abortion, national debt, the loan crisis, as well as others.
Though there has been relatively low mainstream news coverage of this particular race for US House of Representatives, WXMI was there reporting on the event:
Many questions by students were asked throughout the night, though none were covered by WXMI. It simply featured two quotes from both candidates–obtained after the forum–and nothing entailing any answers to the questions asked by students, nor their positions on the issues at hand. Though the answers to all the questions were extremely vague and the candidates often avoided addressing them, there were a multitude of positions that WXMI could have reported on to inform viewers.
For example, when asked about taxes and Michigan acquiring more revenue, Sanchez expressed that the middle class needs a break. He said that the tax cuts under Engler didn’t work, that trickle down economics isn’t working and that we need to demand something other than supply side economics . If Michigan could get more jobs, that would create a stronger tax base.
Ehlers’ response didn’t exactly address the question, but he continually stressed that government intervention in the recent economic crisis was not a bail out, but rather an investment. He also critiqued Obama’s position that something has to be done for the middle-class in America, but Ehlers felt that Obama is not defining who exactly the middle class is.
Another issue raised was abortion. Ehlers unashamedly stated that he is pro-life, and that if anyone was familiar with him before, they would know that about him. While the question asked the candidates what their position was on whether abortion laws should be state rather than federal, Ehlers stated that he personally felt that the court decision in Roe v. Wade was “dead wrong.” Based on his convictions, he expressed that the issue of abortion must consider the rights of every person, and with that claimed that the fetus is entitled to these rights too. He concluded his response by saying that the Roe v. Wade decision should have never been made.
When Sanchez addressed the question, he started his remarks by saying “If this were a man’s issue, we would not be talking about it [abortion].” He then asked how can we bomb kids in another country and then say that abortion is wrong; it is ultimately a personal decision. Sanchez explained that he himself is Catholic and understands the pro-life position of the church on the matter, but is well aware that there are others in this country that do not identify that way, and emphasized a respect for that.
On the topic of health care, a student explained both Obama and McCain’s position on health care and asked Sanchez and Ehlers which plan they supported.
Ehlers said that he predicts that this issue is not going to be an easy one for either candidate if elected. He said that health care will never be free, even if it is – implying that is always going to cost the public money, if not through their pocket, than surely via an increase in taxes. He emphasized this tax increase is seen in countries such as Canada who have socialized health care. Ehlers also spoke highly of creating a plan for Michigan that is similar to the one Mitt Romney developed for Massachusetts because it worked.
Sanchez responded to the question by saying that he supports adopting a socialized health care plan that is modeled after those in France and Germany. He said that right now health care companies in this country are deciding whether people live or die and out of the two, Obama’s plan is better McCain’s. He concluded his remarks saying that health care is a “God-given right.”