By JESSE DAVIS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Candidate Marlin Stutzman, running for Indiana’s U.S. Representative for District 3, made a stop in Goshen Friday to speak to local Rotarians as part of his ongoing campaign.
Stutzman, who currently serves as the state senator for District 13, spoke to the Goshen Rotary Club during its regular meeting at Maplecrest Country Club. While there, he shared some of his background and responded to questions on topics ranging from federal spending and entitlement programs to immigration and state responsibility.
He said there is a major disconnect between the thinking in Washington, D.C. and the thinking in states like Indiana.
“We can’t continue to build up this massive debt,” Stutzman said. “There’s just a different mentality. It’s a mentality of ‘let’s spend our way out of this recession.’”
He explained that in 1980, the U.S. was at about $1 trillion in debt, but today the national debt has reached $14 trillion. Currently, he said, 20 percent of federal spending goes to military purposes, while 13 percent goes to debt service alone.
“We have to realize we can’t pass that debt on to our kids,” Stutzman said.
When asked how he would deal with such outrageous spending, he said it was time to start paring back entitlement programs like welfare, Medicare and Medicaid. He also had another unique perspective as a farmer.
“I think it’s time to get rid of farm subsidies,” Stutzman said. “The subsidies only manipulate the market.”
He said crop insurance is enough to help farmers get through tough times without subsidizing them. He also argued that health insurance should be handled by the states and the federal government should instead be focusing on driving down the cost of medications. Also, with states in charge of health care, he said they should offer extra incentives for state residents to participate in such programs instead of requiring their participation.
“I believe in incentivizing good behavior rather than mandating it,” Stutzman said.
When the topic of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came up, Stutzman was clear in his opinion. He said he believed it was worth going in in the first place, but that it was time to bring soldiers out of harm’s way. He also argued that the biggest problem with the wars is the difference in cultural perception and mentalities. Nations in the Middle East have been fighting for generations, and there is nothing we can do to ever put it to an end, he said.
“I don’t know that we can reform those governments because it’s just a different kind of thought there,” Stutzman said, later adding “We can’t fix every country.”
He said the country should refocus on ties with Israel and helping to protect them.
On the topic of immigration, Stutzman said he supported Arizona in its efforts since its core attempt was to enforce federal laws not being enforced by the federal government. He said until lines are drawn and set up as to how the U.S. immigration system will properly function, the issue will continue to be a drain on the economy. He supported neither complete amnesty nor full-bore deportation, saying that compromise was needed.
“I think there is room in the middle,” Stutzman said.
Stutzman did come out in support of the tea party movement, specifically in favor of its effects.
“I think the tea party is good for both parties, it’s good for getting people involved,” Stutzman said. “I also think they’re good for the overall system because they are that conservative fiscal voice.”
After the meeting, Stutzman said he is happy to be on to the general election now with the Republican caucus in the past.
“I was getting tired of running against Republicans,” he said. “It’s like a family feud.”
Stutzman said his campaign is already hitting its stride after restaffing, reorganizing and finding new funding following his failed primary run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Evan Bayh. He will be in Middlebury today to participate in the town’s Summer Festival parade.