Jack Hoogendyk and Fred Upton met in their first debate (of two campaigns) tonight at Schneider Hall at Western Michigan University. The debate lasted for one hour. The format, in between opening and closing statements, was question/90 second answer/90 second response/60 second response.
Congressman Fred Upton and Jack Hoogendyk debate, with live video
Fred Upton and Jack Hoogendyk spar over voting records during first debate
Both candidates performed well, with no major mistakes on either side. Jack aggressively challenged Fred Upton's voting record. Fred mostly ignored these challenges, and only once (question 6) challenged Jack's record. Upton significantly distorted electoral history in question 11.
A summary follows, along with my commentary in brackets.
Jack: Limiting government. Running because of family. "Every one of you has a giant millstone wrapped around your neck, and the word on that millstone is debt." $50,000 per person. Entitlements.
Fred: Jobs. People. Reagan. Congress. Obama bad. Stimulus bad. Obamacare bad. Energy legislation. Jobs. Infrastructure. Taxes. Move the timekeeper!
Question 1: Will you cut the military to balance the budget?
Jack: Generally opposed. Cut waste, economize. Not much to cut. Republican Study Committee budget. [Fred almost always opposes the more conservative budget.]
Fred: Support BBA. Everything on the table. Voted to cut trillions. [Where? I don't believe this!] Bring troops home from Afghanistan. [I agree!]
Jack: Have to make cuts to balance budget. Mike Mullen: Biggest threat to national security is national debt.
Question 2: More jobs under Clinton, even with tax increase. What will you do other than cut taxes? [Biased question!]
Fred: 9/11 cost money, hurt economy. Obama didn't create jobs. Need tax reform.
Jack: Tax cuts have lag effect. Reagan tax cuts helped under Clinton. Upton opposed some Bush tax cuts. Massive spending leads to inflation. Upton has not restrained spending.
Fred: I voted for Bush tax cuts. Republican Congress under Clinton.
Question 3: Bush administration ran up big deficit. Are there any spending votes you regret, would cast differently?
Fred: 9/11 cost money. Spent money on security. Wind down Afghanistan. World has trouble. Get back to surplus, pay down debt.
[Upton didn't answer the question. Didn't list any votes he regrets. While defense spending was increased, domestic spending was also massively increased, and Upton voted for almost all of it.]
Jack: Can't speak for Fred. Disagree with Fred on Wall Street Bailout (twice). Republicans didn't get job done, increased spending, debt. One of four Republicans to vote to override Bush on SCHIP.
Fred: Grateful Jack wasn't in Congress those years. (Snear) Jack supported SCHIP when he debated Carl Levin. [The original program or the expansion?] "I've always been viewed as a fiscal conservative." [By whom? Not by people who've studied your record!] Support tax reform.
Question 4: David Stockman says Congress would not really cut spending. Can spending be cut enough to balance the budget without revenue increase?
Jack: Yes. Cut spending, increase revenue through growth. Happening in the '80s. Republican Study Committee, Tea Party, Rand Paul have budgets that will balance in 5 years. Make sacrifices. Make tough decisions.
Fred: I know Dave Stockman. [You, Sir, are no Dave Stockman!] Voted for Ryan budget. Senate hasn't passed budget. Entitlement spending.
Jack: Upton one of 16 Republicans to vote for Obama omnibus spending. GOP.gov website criticized. He owns that. 9000 earmarks.
Question 5: Keystone XL Pipeline. Why is it necessary, is it safe?
Jack: Support safeguards. State department studied, minimal environmental risk. Many things we can do. Interior department land grab. Upton supported blocking development. More examples.
Fred: Administration out of excuses. Shepherded though committee. Jobs. Obama. passed legislation to rebuild Embridge pipeline.
Jack: Lift offshore and onshore drilling bans. Upton opposed, voted to ban drilling off Florida, under Great Lakes. Done for 100 years in Canada. Insurance cost low.
Question 6: What alternative energy do you support, do you support same subsidies as for oil? [False premise!]
Fred: All of the above. Nuclear plants. Storage for nuclear waste. Renewables need to make it on their own.
Jack: Flatly opposed to subsidies. Find solutions in private sector. Nuclear, clean coal. Upton voted for increased taxes on domestic energy. I voted against mandates in the house.
Fred: Jack voted for [lists five votes, four of which are, in his own words, tax breaks.] "Flatly opposed, I don't think so."
Question 7: You voted against Obamacare, lead charge to repeal. What would you do about law, work to lessen burden on businesses.
Fred: Hope Supreme Court will strike down. Called Obamacare's worst nightmare. Listen to public. Can't keep own healthcare. 2700 pages. Market reforms. Encourage employers to offer health care. [No! Individuals should buy their own.]
Jack: Government has no business in health care. Empower individuals. Health savings accounts. Encourage individuals to buy their own. Buy health care across state lines. Will Upton keep 'preexisting conditions' from Obamacare?
Fred: Tort reform. Market reform. Medical device tax--Stryker. Repeal it.
Question 8: What would conservative health care reform look like?
Jack: Back to question 6. Bill Upton read were tax credits, not subsidies. Big difference. Broad-based tax cuts are better, take what you can get under Granholm. Vouchers, block grants, high risk pools.
Fred: Purchase insurance across state lines. You can do that with your car. Geico ad. Tort reform. Obamacare costs states more. Block grants. Glad timekeeper isn't school bus, we'd be going right though him.
Jack: Encourage individuals. Hayek. Can't allow people to wait to buy health care until they get sick. Personal responsibility. [Upton never answered pre-existing conditions question.]
Question 9: Upton has 73% from NTU, ACU. Opposed most of Obama, supported most of Bush initiatives. Why is that not enough in district carried by Obama?
Jack: We should run on things we should believe in. Need constitutional conservatives. Upton not worst, but far down there. Heritage Action rates Upton at 51%. Voted for more spending, national debt limit increase. Voted against 39 billion in cuts. Has to stop.
Fred: Lots of different groups. Lots of groups. 100% from Farm Bureau. 93% lifetime from Chamber of Commerce. NRA 100% [not in the '80s and '90s!] National Right to Life, realtors, Family Research Council.
Jack: Chamber of Commerce supports subsidies. Farm Bureau supports farm subsidies. Endorses by Gun Owners of America, RNC for life, Eagle Forum, Madison Project. Most conservative organizations.
Question 10: Term limits. Are they good, do they help or hurt.
Fred: Michigan federal term limits ruled term limits unconstitutional. Voted for constitutional amendment, which didn't get close. Term limits should be longer. Lists many local legislators.
Jack: Support term limits. Founders didn't think term limits would be necessary. best legislators are average citizens. Don't need career politicians. A little cynical because you can vote for something knowing it won't pass. Upton said term limits should be 10-12 years, has served 25. I'll serve six years.
Fred: Voted for amendment. Newt got rid of seniority system. Have committee chairmanship.
Question 11: William F. Buckley said voted for most conservative candidate who can win. Is Jack more conservative, and can he win?
Fred: [Ignores first question.] Don't know whether Jack can win. Jack ran for 9 offices in 9 years. Took safe district and made it close. Recount in last election. Ran for Senate, lost his own "district/precinct". I won his district. Larry DeShazor won handily. Steady decline in support in his precinct. District went for Obama, Clinton twice. Diverse district.
[I'm not sure what "district/precinct" means. I'll Assume Upton meant district. It's true that Jack's percentages declined. They were 57%/55%/51% in 02/04/06. (See http://electionmagic.com/.) But Upton doesn't mention that his own percentages declined, winning 69%/65%/61% in those same years. Thus Upton lost more support than Jack did over the same period. Julie Rogers wasted taxpayers' money with a recount, even though she clearly had no chance of success.
Carl Levin was an entrenched incumbent and Jack had no money, so it's no surprise he didn't win. He did easily win his own precinct, Texas 6, though. Upton could have taken on Levin in 1996, but he passed. It's a flat-out whopper to say that Larry DeShazor won handily. Larry got 51.06%]
Jack: Buckley said he'd rather be governed by people in Boston phone directory. Power lies with people, not with Washington. Study shows that when congressional delegation grows in power, businesses in district do worse.
Fred: Under Newt, passed Contact for America, undid seniority system. Speaker Boehner good. Cut Congress' budget. Open process.
Question 12: Political parties are more polarized. How has GOP changed, is government more effective.
Jack: GOP has lost its way. Partisanship. Democrats say 'we call the shots'. What does Constitution say? Let's follow that standard. Honor Constitution.
Fred: Swing district. People want job done. Allow amendments, bipartisan first. 40 amendments, 35 have significant bipartisan support. Work with other side. Upton/Mfume bill on disabled. Streamline medical devices.
Jack: Congressman Upton has done some good things. 51% from Heritage Action. I worked with Rep. Bob Jones.
Jack: Thank people for debate. Need more debates. Want six debates for six counties. Don Cooney wanted more debates in 2008.
Fred: Important election. Make a difference. Jobs, Obamacare, energy. Track record. Endorsements. Local supporters.