Politics & Elections
7:19 pm
Sun April 22, 2012

Second Congressional District GOP candidates debate federal deficit, health care, tax code

The federal deficit was on the minds of the GOP candidates for Nebraska’s Second Congressional District at a debate Friday. The Omaha Press Club and League of Women Voters sponsored the debate.

Incumbent Congressman Lee Terry has three challengers. One is financial advisor Brett Lindstrom. UNO mathematics professor Jack Heidel and former Douglas County Republican Party Chairman Glenn Freeman are also running for Congress. 

One issued debated by the candidates was the federal deficit. Lindstrom said with the U.S. deficit at $15.6 trillion and climbing, government officials need to look toward additional places to cut.

Terry said two-thirds of the government’s budget goes toward three entitlement programs.  He said those programs can’t just be cut, but they can be reformed.

When asked what programs he would cut to help fix the deficit, Freeman said he’d first look at the constitution. Heidel countered that eliminating the deficit requires reform of the budget process and ending baseline budgeting.

With baseline budgeting, every department’s budget goes up 3 or 4% each year. Heidel says the budgets should level off and start over each year. After that, he proposes cutting every federal department budget by 10 percent.

Candidates also discussed the federal health care overhaul law. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in June on the constitutionality of portions of that law.

Freeman says competition is key to bringing health care costs down. UNO math professor Jack Heidel says cost controls should be in place, along with a tax credit.

Incumbent Congressman Terry says he wants a health insurance system similar to what members of Congress get available to everyone, with several choices available. Lindstrom says health care portability and doctor-patient relationship are important to bringing down costs.

The 2nd District Republican Congressional Debate will air in its entirety on KIOS at Noon on Tuesday, May 8th.