4th U.S. Congressional District Race Pits Incumbent Dave Camp Against Saginaw Attorney Andrew Concannon

Posted In: Politics, Local, Candidates, Interviews,   From Issue 670   By: Mike Thompson

23rd October, 2008     0

We are pleased to present this spirited forum, with Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Camp of Midland squaring off against challenger Andrew Concannon of Saginaw Township.

The Fourth District sprawls from Saginaw County's Freeland area and extends in a northwest direction, all of the way to Traverse City. The communities of Midland, Mount Pleasant and Big Rapids are along the route. This comprises a population of 662,000 people.

Republican incumbent Dave Camp has held the turf since 1992. Camp was co-chairman of Mitt Romney's bid for this year's presidential nomination, before Romney lost to John McCain. In the past two elections, he defeated Mike Huckleberry of Greenville.

Democrat Andrew Concannon is a newcomer to elective politics.

Here are their responses, heading into the Nov. 4 election.


Review: Please explain your main priorities for the next two years in Congress.

Concannon: I intend to focus on the economy. In particular, I will turn my attention to trade agreements. I wish to move to modify and/or rework agreements already in place in order to stem the bleeding of lost jobs in the Fourth District.  I will also work to promote investment in alternative/renewable source energy to promote job growth --- both in terms of enticing out of state companies to move here, and in terms of starting up companies to manufacture components used in renewable energy.

Camp: Jobs, jobs, jobs.  Included in that, of course, is the rising cost of health care, high energy prices (especially gas), and the need to reinvest in our workforce while better enforcing our trade agreements. Clearly, we must aggressively prepare for a new economy.  I have routinely brought the federal officials to Michigan to examine ways to support those who have been displaced, but also to advocate for increased federal assistance to create new jobs. I have consistently sought to expand retraining programs and tax redits for businesses to expand , such as those at United Solar, Hemlock Semiconductor and the Great Lakes Energy Park.  Beyond retraining and unemployment, we must better enforce our trade laws. To that end, I have introduced a bipartisan bill to create a Chief Trade Prosecutor whose sole mission is to defend the jobs of American workers.


Review: Why should a citizen vote for yourself, as opposed to your opponent?

Concannon:  As noted in The Saginaw News, Oct. 16, my opponent is a political animal with years of political experience.  As an attorney, I have experience in resolving disputes.  While it is true that I lack experience in bailing out PAC's and interest groups, I believe that is a good thing. My opponent does not vote for the average constituent in this district. I will.

Camp: No response.


Review: On which issues do you disagree with your opponent?

Concannon: Trade. He repeatedly votes for free trade agreements while I will not. Taxes. He voted to drastically shift wealth from the middle class to the upper class, with his repeated votes with George W. Bush on tax policy.  Energy. My opponent has repeatedly voted to protect big oil companies, and has specifically done so in several votes against small businesses looking to engage in renewable source energy research and production.  Health care. My opponent will resist any change to the current health care system.  I will work to devise a solution workable for both Democrats and Republicans alike. He will not.

Camp: My opponent's support for raising taxes is absolutely wrong.  Higher taxes would severely hurt Michigan's and America's ability to recover and start creating jobs.  I have a dedication to community and public service and have the experience necessary to get results on behalf of the people of the Fourth Congressional District.


Review: Are there any issues on which you disagree with your own party's presidential nominee?

Camp: I will list two main issues: immigration and taxes.  With regard to immigration, I believe we need to secure our borders first. Only once the American public has confidence in our borders, can we can go about fixing our immigration laws. I also believe Senator McCain was wrong to vote against tax cuts that lowered taxes for working families, and on those trying to expand their businesses and create new jobs. 

Concanon:  I do not share Senator Obama's view on certain school funding for charter schools. Nor do I agree with his views on certain legislation that he has favored, benefitting companies over individuals who get injured by negligence and defective products.


Review: What is your opinion of the economic recovery or "bailout" plan approved early this month, $700 billion-plus for Wall Street?

Concannon: I think it was unsuccessful in placating the market's desire for a quick fix to the liquidity problem. I also believe that the lack of infrastructure developmement or other economic growth within the bill results in an inability to increase confidence in economic growth in the future to get us out of this tailspin. Hence, the market dropped even further as of October 16.

Camp: The credit system is to our economy what the circulatory system is to the body. If blood doesn't flow through the body, it seizes. The same is true with credit. If credit dries up, then money stops flowing and our economy seizes. What does that mean for you? It means businesses can't get money to expand, or to even pay their employees. Students can't get student loans for the next semester. People can't get car loans. Seniors may not have access to their savings. Clearly, the consequences of inaction were too great. The impact would have been too severe. (Editor's Note: Camp voted for the eventual bailout plan on Oct. 3.)


Review: Would you extend or revoke the tax reductions under the Bush Administration, and do you have any general comments regarding tax and budget policy?

Camp: I believe it is absolutely wrong to raise taxes, especially when we are facing an economic crisis in Michigan. Elimination of tax cuts would make it harder for businesses to expand and employ new workers, and it would make it harder for families to make ends meet.  If anything, we need to make our taxes lower, fairer and simpler.

Concannon: No, I would not extend the tax cuts. I agree with Senator Obama's focus on middle class tax cuts.  Unlike my opponent, I also support a "pay as you go" budget policy to limit deficit spending.


Review:  At what rate per hour, if any, should the minimum wage be established?

Concannon: I do not have a specific number in mind. I will support workable increases when they are proposed.

Camp: $7.25.


Review: What are the best methods to improve the access and affordability of health care?

Camp: Large companies use the tax code to provide workers with quality, affordable health care. Every American should get that same help. By using both tax credits and tax deductions, we can make healthcare affordable for every American. We also need to enact several reforms, including: (1) eliminating red tape that increases insurance costs, (2) implement health information technology that can prevent medical errors and eliminate duplicative procedures, and (3) apply Benjamin Franklin's adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This means a greater focus on wellness programs, not just hospital visits.

Concannon: I would support a combination of tax credits for companies and individuals. But, unlike my opponent, I would also support a direct subsidy to individuals who work without a health plan offered or who do not have a job so that they are not left out of coverage.


Review: What are your feelings on offshore oil drilling, and on expansion of nuclear power?

Concannon:  I believe we must now put nuclear power higher on our list of options than it has been. I believe it can be safe. On oil, offshore drilling will not result in oil – or a drop in gas prices – for nearly a decade.  Yet, I would not stand in the way of it, if it is necessary to come to an agreement on promotion of other energy plans for renewables.

Camp: We have 50 years worth of energy in Alaska and in the Outer Continental Shelf. We can recover this oil in environmentally safe ways, and we should do it today. Job creation requires new sources of affordable energy. That is why I authored the law to expand tax credits to produce wind and solar energy. We also need to invest in clean coal plants as well as advanced, safe nuclear technology.


Review: Would you make specific changes in the No Child Left Behind Act for public education?

Camp: With the No Child Left Behind Act, Congress laid out a simple mandate to schools and states: Show improvement. Because of the hard work by teachers and school districts, students are achieving higher scores in reading and math than ever before. But instead of enacting more federal mandates, states should be making these important education decisions. I have co-sponsored legislation that gives states flexibility on how federal dollars are spent. Congress should continue to expect results for providing federal education funding, yet states should be given the ability to set the educational agenda.

Concannon: I believe that the No Child Left Behind Act improperly ties funding with certain problems beyond the control of schools. I would be more flexible in applying penalties to determine why a school may fail before funding gets impacted.


Review: Do you perceive that your opponent has misrepresented your own views in any way?

Concannon: Not that I am aware of.

Camp: I authored the law that has helped develop alternative energy-credits for automotive companies to develop hybrid, plug-in, and alternative fuel vehicles, credits for consumers to buy these cars and trucks, and credits for fueling stations that convert to these new technologies.  The suggestion my opponent has made — that I don't support alternative fuels –- is as patently false and as it is ludicrous.


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