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Stivers, Lang Debate Local and National Issues

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The first and only debate between Congressman Steve Stivers (R) and Athens County Law Director Pat Lang (D) gave voters in the hotly contested 15th District one more chance to understand what each candidate hopes to bring to Washington.

Both candidates met in Lancaster County Wednesday night and spent roughly an hour on the issues many voters are concerned with in this year’s election. Congressman Stivers made sure to include his bipartisan efforts taken thus far, and what he plans on doing if re-elected. Lang, who once was dismissed as a candidate that didn’t pose much of a threat but is now a serious contender, outlined what his plan would be to help move America forward again.

The lame duck session of congress is addressed

Congress has one of its lowest approval ratings in history, coming in at just 13 percent. Stivers attributed the bickering in Washington to the disappointing number. Stivers then went on to highlight the 18 pieces of legislation that he has authored and have all passed the house chamber with bipartisan support. In particular, the congressman highlighted a bill of his that expanded infrastructure by $1 billion and would be paid for by the revenue of off shore drilling. In addition, “20 Democrats agree with the bill,” said Congressman Stivers. Lang countered by saying that the gridlock is the result of partisanship on behalf of the congressman. “Congressman Stivers has a 90 percent voting record for the majority in congress,” said Lang.

The economy takes center stage

Many Americans view the economy as the number one issue facing America. Thus, Stivers described his four-point plan to get the economy back on track. The plan entailed regulatory reform, tax reform, real healthcare reform, and an all of the above energy policy. The congressman criticized his opponent’s support of the Obama stimulus saying it does not focus enough on the private sector. In return, Lang made clear that he supports maintaining infrastructure and providing good education for young people to make sure they can effectively take advantage of jobs. Lang went on to say that it was time to stop giving millionaires and billionaires tax breaks. In addition, Lang also voiced his support for tax credits for small business and ending tax loopholes for companies that send jobs overseas.

Healthcare and Medicare, which side has the best coverage?

With healthcare and Medicare both being issues that resonate with many Americans, Lang immediately took a shot at his GOP opponent, saying how Rep. Stivers supported vouchers for Medicare that would cost seniors an additional $6,000. Lang noted how he wanted to protect Medicare and security for seniors. Furthermore, Lang said Obamacare would not be able to be repealed because the Senate would not appeal it, leading to more gridlock. Rep. Stivers countered by saying Obamacare gutted $716 billion from Medicare and that Obamacare should be repealed in its entirety. Stivers also said that the crisis of healthcare is a crisis of cost. The congressman mentioned how it is necessary to have Tort reform to stop rampant suing. Stivers also said he supported Paul Ryan’s plan because it protects those 55 and older as well as younger people.

Education crucial for both candidates

Pat Lang noted how he put was able to put himself through college with various grants.  To that end, Lang wanted to protect FASFA, grants, and need-based scholarships for students. Lang also described that he felt it was necessary to maintain investments in Kindergarten through twelfth grade but also post secondary education as well. Ultimately, Lang said his goal was to make sure that every person has the same chance he did to get a great education and be able to pursue the American dream. Rep. Stivers, who worked three jobs while in college, not only wants to protect grants, but also highlighted legislation that he was part of that did not allow student interest on loans to double.

The candidates offer views on when to go to war

On a rare occasion during the debate, both candidates agree that the U.S. should only go to war if there is an American interest at great risk. The candidates differ however on when the troops come home. Rep. Stivers, a 28-year National Guard veteran, does not agree with the 2014 withdrawal date as many Afghans are continually turning guns on U.S. forces. Lang refuted by saying that the Afghans need to step up and protect themselves and that America cannot keep fighting for them.

The debate allowed both candidates for Ohio’s 15th district to elucidate the stark differences each has to get this country going in the right direction. The results for this tightly contested district will certainly have strong implications in Ohio and for the country and the election is less than two weeks away.

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