Story by Scott Rothschild, courtesy The Lawrence Journal-World
Democrat Tobias Schlingensiepen and Republican U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins dueled Sunday over campaign finance, health care and the economy in their first face-to-face debate.
The two, who are both from Topeka, are vying to represent the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Lawrence, Eudora and much of eastern Kansas.
Schlingensiepen, a minister, said if elected, he would fight the “fund-raising circus that puts members of Congress in debt to wealthy corporations.”
He proposed limiting the amount candidates could raise for each election to $250,000 and a five-year waiting period before a person who leaves Congress could work as a corporate lobbyist.
He said Jenkins has taken $618,000 in campaign contributions from insurance, banks and financial companies while voting against regulations of those interests. In the past, he has noted Jenkins’ vote against the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010.
Jenkins, who is seeking her third two-year term, criticized the Dodd-Frank law as hurting small banks, which, she said, were not responsible for the failures of Wall Street.
She blamed the nation’s economic woes on Democrats and their desire to grow the size of government. When Obama was elected and Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress “it was a different, big government agenda every stinking day,” she said.
Jenkins said the country needs an overhaul of the tax system. The current system is too complicated and picks winners and losers, she said.
Schlingensiepen said he supported extension of the wind energy tax credit, and providing job training support to vocational-technical schools, community colleges and universities.
Jenkins said she wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and said Schlingensiepen supports a single-payer system of health care.
Schlingensiepen said there are many good aspects of the ACA, such as the provision that says insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, but that the law fails to hold down the cost of health care. He said putting everyone under a Medicare type system would be logical, but not politically possible.
Schlingensiepen said the Medicare overhaul proposal that Jenkins has voted for would increase the cost of health care by more than $6,000 per senior citizen.
But Jenkins defended the plan as necessary to keep Medicare from going bankrupt.
The forum, held at Eudora Middle School, was sponsored by the Eudora Chamber of Commerce and Eudorareporter.com in conjunction with the Eudora School District.
Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
One thing you can always count on in elections is the war of words between opponents. The coming general election is no different.
In recent days, U.S. Congress Candidate Tobias Schlingensiepen (D-Topeka) had called out his opponent, incumbent Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) and her voting record on various issues related to the economy.
“Congresswoman Jenkins has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from banks and insurance companies, and she has repeatedly voted against the 2nd District, and for the interests of these wealthy corporations,” Schlingensiepen told a Topeka news conference on Wednesday.
Schlingensiepen stated that Jenkins:
– Voted against eliminating banks’ ability to change their credit card rates at will every month; Against writing mortgages and other financial products in easy-to-understand language; Against prohibiting corporations from hiding fees and penalties in their loan documents; Against creating a consumer watchdog agency. (HR 4173 6/30/10).
– In the same year taxpayers gave billions of dollars to banks to bail them out, the banks turned around and gave their top executives bonuses as large as $71.5 million Congresswoman Jenkins voted against restricting executive compensation for bailed-out banks, and she voted against increasing reporting requirements for the use of bailout money. (HR 384 – 1/21/09).
– Congresswoman Jenkins voted against imposing surtax on executive bonuses paid with taxpayer money. (HR 1586 – 3/19/09)
– Congresswoman Jenkins twice voted against oversight of the financial system (HR 4173 – 12/11/09 and 6/30/10)
Schlingensiepen also challenged Jenkins on her campaign contributions.
“By mid-July, Congresswoman Jenkins had received more than $610,000 from the financial industry. Her campaign war chest has included donations from 68 financial services firms and organizations, among others in the sector. When first elected, she was appointed to the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees banking, insurance, real estate, securities and other areas.”
The Jenkins’ camp was quick to respond to the charges made by Schlingensiepen.
“Mr. Schlingensiepen’s comments show that he is either confused or perfectly willing to distort the facts for political gain”, Campaign Manager Bill Roe said in a press release. “While the figure he cites as having been contributed from the financial services industry is a fabrication, the vast majority of support Congresswoman Jenkins did receive from the financial industry is from folks working for credit unions and community banks across Eastern Kansas who are also entitled to a voice.”
Roe went on to explain Jenkins’ stance in regards to HR 4173.
“Kansans have voiced strong opposition to the Dodd-Frank law our opponent supports, which included $150 billion bailout for Fannie and Freddie and created a regulatory system which punishes small banks and insurance companies, consolidating more capital in the five largest corporate banks and further exasperating the problem of ‘too big to fail’, which got us into this problem in the first place.”
Schlingensiepen and Jenkins will meet face to face for the first time in the campaign season this Sunday in Eudora at the Meet the Candidates Forum at 1:30PM. The forum will take place in the Eudora Middle School Auditorium, 2635 Church Street. The Forum is sponsored by The Eudora Chamber of Commerce and Eudorareporter.com.