EDITOR'S NOTE: In preparation for the Nov. 2 General Election, Ogden Newspapers of Michigan presented a list of questions to the Democrat and Republican 1st Congressional District candidates, Gary McDowell, and Dan Benishek. Today, we feature Gary McDowell. Thursday's Daily News will feature Dan Benishek.
How should we address Social Security concerns?
I am committed to protecting Social Security, which is why I pledged to oppose any and all efforts to privatize it, reduce benefits or raise the retirement age. During the Reagan Administration, Democrats and Republicans looked at the challenges facing Social Security and worked to make it more sustainable for the future. We can do the same thing again to ensure that the Social Security system remains available without turning it over to Wall Street.
Do we need another stimulus package to aid the economy?
The best economic stimulus we could have is putting Americans back to work so I would support policies that help the private sector hire workers. One of the most important investments we can make to create jobs in the near term and lay the groundwork for future economic growth is in our infrastructure, such as roads. We need to create a sustainable, long-term plan for these investments that does not add to the deficit.
Would you have voted for the President's Health Care bill?
There are a lot of good things in the health care bill prohibiting insurance from dropping people with pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, prohibiting insurance from dropping individuals when they become sick and there are things that might not work that will need to be changed. What I can't support is going back to a system where we are all at the mercy of the insurance companies.
What would be your number one priority if elected?
My number one priority throughout this campaign has been creating and sustaining the good-paying, middle-class jobs that drive our economy and strengthen our communities. There is no "silver bullet" to accomplish this goal but I will work everyday to ensure that our federal laws help businesses create these jobs right here in northern Michigan.
Would you support energy drilling in the Great Lakes?
Absolutely not. The federal ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes must remain in place. Additionally, I would aggressively work with our Canadian neighbors urging them to adopt a similar ban on drilling. The Great Lakes are a shared resource and as long as anyone is drilling in them we are all at risk.
How would you balance environmental concerns with job creation?
Protecting our environment has to be a priority, but we have to approach the issue with jobs in mind. I would oppose the current cap and trade proposal because it would result in higher energy costs, which would stifle job creation. But our pristine environment is itself an economic driver, particularly with regard to our tourism economy, so I would also work to further protect the Great Lakes against invasive species such as Asian carp.
How would you deal with Iran and its growing nuclear capability?
We have to remain engaged in international efforts to monitor and curtail Iran's nuclear capability, while reserving the right to act on our own if and only when it is clear there's no other option. Economic sanctions are an appropriate first step. This is a global problem that will be best solved by a coalition of our global partners but if those efforts should fail the United States has the right to defend its interests.
Would you extend unemployment benefits any further?
Given the slow pace of the economic recovery it is something that should be considered, perhaps with additional safeguards to ensure that those who have already maxed out their unemployment benefits are actively seeking work.