Published in the Record Searchlight on August 8, 2010
I appreciated the support of the Record Searchlight in publishing my request for three debates with Wally Herger. Herger's spokesman indicated that Herger would debate me, but not until October, rather than August and September while Congress is in recess, as I had suggested. The history of Pete Stiglich's request for a debate is informative; in that case Herger's spokesman left the possibility of a debate open until the last minute and then issued a response declining a debate, stating that Herger had a policy of not debating fellow Republicans.
Your editorial stated that one of my main issues in the campaign is increasing federal spending in the north state, which, given the conservative district's overwhelming concern with the runaway deficit, probably will not get much traction. Although this is truly one of the main issues, I do not think the Record Searchlight's characterization does it justice.
According to a recent survey by Patchwork Nation, aired on the PBS News Hour, Shasta County gets only about half the average federal spending other rural counties across our country receive. Federal spending doesn't just mean earmarks. It includes Social Security, Medicare, defense, veterans' benefits, education and farm subsidies. Shasta County is more than $1 billion below the yearly national average, meaning we do not get back our fair share of the federal taxes we pay. That's something I would change back in Washington.
Shasta County and the other northern counties in the district have a persistent unemployment rate far above the national average. If Shasta County received just average federal spending, it would create enough jobs to reduce the unemployment rate by half. Herger recently signed a pledge that he would no longer request federal money for earmarks in his district. Although this may sound like good politics, it will mean even fewer jobs in Shasta County over time.
I believe the federal budget must be balanced, but I also have the energy and desire to fight in Congress for our fair share. While I have pledged to implement my own "term-limit" of eight years, I am certain I can accomplish more in that time than we have seen from Herger in almost three decades.