Candidates in the simultaneous races for full and partial terms representing Michigan's 11th Congressional District tackled jobs, among a host of hot-button issues Monday at a candidate forum at Plymouth District Library.
Noticeably absent was Republican nominee Kerry Bentivolio of Milford, who is a candidate in both the partial and full-term races and will appear twice on many voters' Nov. 6 ballots.
Democratic nominee Dr. Syed Taj of Canton, Green Party candidate Steven Paul Duke of Livonia and Libertarian John Tatar of Livonia, all candidates for a two-year term representing Michigan's newly realigned 11th Congressional District, appeared at the forum, moderated by League of Women Voters member Susan Rowe. Natural Law Party candidate Daniel Johnson of East Lansing also did not appear.
Democratic nominee David Curson of Belleville and U.S. Taxpayer Party candidate Marc Sosnowski of Dearborn Heights, candidates for a partial six-week term to fill out former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's vacated term in Michigan's exising 11th Congressional District, appeared at the forum.
Jobs weigh heavily on candidates' minds
Dr. Syed Taj, a current Canton Township trustee, told the more than 100 potential voters in attendance that he supported governments spending money on roads and infrastructure, creating jobs for Americans.
Taj said he supported offering tax incentives to businesses to boost jobs and making educational and vocational opportunities available for those about to enter the workforce.
Steven Paul Duke said the U.S. has "dismantled our manufacturing sector," and pledged to "not continue to destroy the wage base."
He said he supported fair trade, not free trade.
Duke said he supports increasing the minimum wage, which he said would lead to more consumer spending.
John Tatar said jobs are not a federal issue, but said reducing taxes can boost jobs and the economy. Tatar said he supported eliminating income tax altogether and "reducing payments out of the pocket" for U.S. workers.
"Government never creates jobs," Tatar said. "People create jobs. We need to create jobs by demand."
Marc Sosnowski said he agreed with Duke that the U.S. should promote fair trade, not free trade, and said the jobs under free trade that have been lost overseas likely won't come back.
He characterized the United States' founding fathers as businessmen and said each citizen could own their own business instead of waiting for the government to create jobs.
David Curson struck a similar chord as Taj, stating that infrastructure projects would help create jobs and said he supported facilitating measures for veterans to enter the workforce.
"Fund (the infrastructure projects) and you'll create jobs almost instantly," he said.
The candidates also weighed in on other hot-button issues:
Dr. Syed Taj
Taj also said he hopes to keep Medicare and Medicaid solvent and hopes to increase opportunities for people who run a risk of falling into poverty through boosting public school systems and education.
Taj, who emigrated from India to the United States in 1982 to work as a medical intern, said he wants the younger generation to see the same type of opportunity.
On immigration issues, Taj said he supports closing the U.S.-Mexico border, but warned such measures shouldn't "go too far."
Taj also said he supports the Second Amendment granting the right to bear arms, but said there must be a policy in place "against assault weapons and high-caliber ammunitions."
Steven Paul Duke
Duke insisted that a fix to many of the nation's budget woes is to "tax the rich," and said the U.S. abides by a "skewed taxation system that favors wealth over work."
Duke said the "destruction" of unions has hurt the country instead of helping it and said he supports a "true" national health care plan that differs from the Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as Obamacare.
Duke said the insurance industry "rakes off profit, even under Obamacare."
On gun control, Duke said he opposed residents owning assault weapons.
"Uzis are not used for hunting deer," he said.
John Tatar alleged President Barack Obama is not eligible for office, stating the president doesn't meet the criteria of being a "natural-born citizen" and maligned the "lies and deception" of the United States' current two-party system.
"At the poll, you have the devil or Satan," Tatar said. "Which party will you choose to destroy the country?"
Tatar said the U.S. could drastically reduce its budget by ending its wars overseas, which he said costs the U.S. $500 million per month.
"We need to stop spending everywhere else and spend on our own people," he said.
Tatar said he supported gun ownership rights, "to protect us against the government that may be a runaway government" and for citizens to protect themselves.
"If police have a weapon, the people should be able to have the weapon," he said.
Sosnowski, who said his party abides by the principles of the U.S. Constitution Party, said he supports anti-abortion measures, describing himself as "pro-life" and supported gun-ownership rights, regardless of the type of weapon.
On health care, Sosnowski said the best health insurance is "don't get sick," and said the federal government has no business in providing welfare, preferring such decisions be made at the state level.
"Romneycare is OK in Massachussetts," he said. "It's not OK from the federal government."
Sosnowski said helping the poor is the job of the church.
"We should all tithe," he said.
Curson said he supports punishing companies that hire illegal immigrants.
"(The immigrants" aren't criminals, but they do break the law that they are here improperly," he said. "It's the employers that empower them where sanctions should go."
Curson said he feels that "in the richest country in the world," all citizens should receive health care. He said he opposed vouchers for Medicare and Medicaid, stating they're programs that citizens buy into during the course of their lives and argued that a voucher system is "just handing it over to the profiteers."
On welfare issues, Curson said training and opportunities also should be offered by the federal government.
"There shouldn't be a simple handout," Curson said.
Vote is Nov. 6
The vote for the 11th Congressional District is Nov. 6.
The vote for the full term includes Bentivolio, Taj, Duke and Tatar and will be decided by voters in the exising 11th District. The vote for the six-week partial term includes Bentivolio, Curson, Sosnowski and Johnson and will be decided by voters in the realigned 11th District.