Elections: Questions for candidates

I hope many of you responded to the appeal for questions for legislative candidates that IP-T editor Scott McIntosh issued last week.  If not, there is still time; McIntosh will be moderating forums on Tuesday, Oct. 21, for Districts 10 and 11 and on Thursday, Oct. 23, for Districts 12 and 13.

After some thought, I respectfully submit these questions.

Would you support extending Medicaid to include Idahoans in families with incomes up to 140% of the poverty level?  Two Governor task forces have overwhelmingly supported the extension.   It would extend insurance coverage to 80,000-100,000 Idahoans too poor to benefit from the insurance exchange.  It would save an estimated 100 lives per year.  And it would save the state $55 million now spent reimbursing hospitals for indigent care.

Without this extension, Idaho is punishing poor families with a wage-earning member.  If a child is diagnosed with a serious on-going illness like diabetes or asthma, the family must choose to sacrifice the kid’s health, the entire cost of care, the job, or the wage-earner.  It’s not a decision we should require anyone to make.

Republicans are divided on this issue.  I’d like to know where the candidates stand.

Would you vote for a Constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court?  I’ve seen enough statements by our Founding Fathers vilifying control by corporations to be sure they never meant for the Supreme Court to consider them persons with free-speech rights.

The Court’s decision allows corporations to work with one another to manipulate elections in ways they would never be allowed to manipulate the market.

Worse, whoever is making political expenditures does not have to tell the owners what they are doing.  That’s right.  The investors who would otherwise share the millions being spent on elections do not even get to know where the paid help is spending their money.

Do you believe that Idahoans would benefit more in the long run from undoing the $3000 per student cuts in higher education funding or from lowering the tax on businesses?  A counsellor once told me that the hard decisions are not between good and bad, but between good and good.  I’m fairly certain every candidate would love to fund our colleges better and to lower business taxes, but such decisions are not made in a vacuum.  I want to know which each candidate would stand up and fight for.

(I’m tired to seeing the hypocrites who shunted college expenses onto our students blame public schools and teachers for the drop in college enrollments.)

Do you believe the state of Idaho should take over ownership or management of federal lands within our borders?  How could we afford this?  The high cost of fighting fires on our state lands this year should have dampened enthusiasm for this plank in the Republican platform, but high-ranking party members continue the push. I suspect this plank is just one more attempt to siphon public assets to cronies’ hands, but I don’t think ignoring it will make it go away.

These answers would reveal what is important to a candidate and whether he or she thinks or spouts party dogma.  I’ve lots more questions though.  Why are we spending $8 million annually to subject Idaho students to a week of high stakes testing each year?  Should we reinstate the rules limiting class sizes in elementary schools to 24 students?  Would gradually raising our minimum wage to $10.10 an hour help or hurt the economy?

And just for fun—how serious is the Republican platform plank that would have the legislature, rather than the voters, elect our U.S. Senators?

(Note: For a calendar of this weeks’ six televised debates see www.2cdems.org/events.)

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