U.S. District 9 Representative
October 22, 2008
This election marks the second straight time that incumbent Democrat Baron Hill, Libertarian Eric Schansberg and Republican Mike Sodrel will compete for the District 9 Seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hill and Sodrel also competed in 2002 and 2004, splitting victories.
Baron P. Hill, Dem.
Personal: Hill, 54, of Seymour, and his wife, the former Betty Schepman, have three children, Jennifer Hill Weiser, Cara Huddleston and Elizabeth Hill. A 1971 graduate of Seymour High School, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1975 from Furman University. He is completing his third term in the United States House of Representatives from Indiana's Ninth District, having first been elected in 1998. He also served eight years in the Indiana General Assembly (1982-1990). Voters may contact him at 1-812-522-8764 (campaign headquarters in Seymour).
Duties of position sought: Representing Indiana's Ninth Congressional District in Congress, and providing critical constituent services such as help with federal agencies to the people of Southern Indiana.
Why are you seeking the office? In 2006 voters wanted change. I believe we have made progress – like increasing the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, cutting interest rates on student loans, raising fuel efficiency standards for our vehicles, funding the VA at the highest level since its creation and enacting pay-as-you-go spending rules. But, there is still work to be done. And, that is why I am running for re-election – to continue the changes we have begun in order to move this country in a new direction. Like most Hoosiers, I am frustrated that Congress has not accomplished more. But, I will not allow those frustrations to overpower my desire to work for real results. In the midst of such partisan tension, I have been able to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft legislation that will not only impact the lives of Hoosier families, but on a more basic level, actually be signed into law.
What qualifies you for the office? I am a lifelong resident of Southern Indiana. It is the place where Betty and I raised our three daughters, built a life together and proudly call home. I believe I know the people of Southern Indiana well. And, like me, they are practical folks who want to better America by finding practical solutions to our pressing problems. I was recently named the third-most-centrist Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. I am very proud of this and believe it accurately reflects my constituents and their values. I make my decisions on legislation based upon how it will directly impact the lives of folks back home, and not on the political party that introduced it.
What do you consider the top issues in the campaign? There is, understandably, a general angst among Americans about the economy. Property taxes are skyrocketing, healthcare costs are increasing, gasoline is becoming more expensive daily, the housing market is experiencing unprecedented troubles and our financial institutions faltering, while Hoosiers are being offered little to no relief. The lagging economy affects all aspects of peoples' lives and Congress must do more to help middle-class Americans. Although short-term options may seem more appealing now, our real problems lie in the government's reckless spending. I am proud that this Congress has enacted pay-as-you-go spending rules and regained fiscal control. However, we must do more. I have voted against both budget proposals crafted by my Democratic colleagues because of the large increases in discretionary spending and reliance on the Social Security Trust Fund. We must overhaul our unfair tax structure that gives breaks to the wealthiest Americans and oil companies reaping record profits while we pay record prices at the pump.
Many scientists believe that emissions from coal-fired power plants are causing severe damage to our environment, including the increase of mercury in most bodies of water in the Midwest, including Southern Indiana. Do you favor a plan to reduce these emissions? If so, how should the emissions be reduced and should that plan be funded by the taxpayers, the power companies or both? Clean-coal technology, in the form of carbon sequestration, exists and must be made more affordable and accessible for use right here in Southern Indiana. Coal is one of the most abundant natural resources in our country. In fact, 96 percent of power generated in Indiana is from coal. We must include clean coal in a comprehensive plan to achieve energy independence for our great nation. For the sake of our economic, environmental and national security, we must become energy independent. One piece of this complex puzzle is raising fuel efficiency standards in our vehicles. I was proud to author that legislation and see it enacted into law — the first increase in these standards in more than 30 years. We've made progress, but we've got to go further, faster. We need to speed the development and deployment of technologies that produce renewable and alternative energy. We need to explore and incentivize options such as wind and solar energy. And, we have the tools right here in Southern Indiana — the natural resources, the finest universities and the drive — to make energy independence a reality.
Do you support the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street? Why or why not? I voted against the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street when it came before the U.S. House of Representatives, not once, but twice. The original proposal to give reprieve to those on Wall Street who largely caused this crisis was flawed. And, adding $150 billion in new spending onto that original proposal made it seriously flawed. Our current economic situation is not only cause for concern, but cause for action. My votes against the bailout packages should not be seen as votes of inaction. Using taxpayers' money to bail out Wall Street and increasing our massive deficit with tax cuts that are not paid for is not an acceptable solution to this problem. We can do better, and I was ready and willing to stay in Washington as long as it took to devise a better and more comprehensive approach. This Administration has a track record of operating in crisis mode, and I cannot think of a single time in which that has resulted in the wisest of decisions. Yes, we need to act. And, I will be watching how the markets react to this recently-enacted package. However, we must still address how we got into this crisis, and that our fiscal spending and oppressive deficit are not problems I'm willing to pass on to my children and grandchildren.
Do you support the removal of the capital gains tax? Why or why not? Our current tax structure is flawed and frustrating. Giving tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent of Americans and big oil companies reaping record profits does not make sense to me. I have consistently supported tax breaks for middle-class Hoosier families and small businesses. I am, however, extremely concerned with our massive federal deficit. Any alterations in taxes must be offset so as not to add to our $10-trillion debt. We must also reign in our reckless fiscal spending and get our fiscal house in order. Hoosier families have to live within a budget, and so too should Congress. I refuse to leave this distressing debt as a burden for the future generations of Hoosiers to bear.
With many automakers and their supportive industries located in the northern part of the state, do you believe Congress should pass legislation to help the industry with more taxpayer dollars? Our auto manufacturers must become more competitive in this global economy. The 40-percent increase in fuel efficiency standards is one critical aspect of achieving this goal. Yes, there were other proposals out there to raise the fuel efficiency standards higher and faster. But, my proposal was successful because it was the only one that had bipartisan support and ensured that we made progress while protecting American jobs. The American auto industry is one of the true engines of our economy, and can be seen nowhere better than in Southern Indiana. We are home to many outstanding companies who work side-by-side with the auto manufacturers. For example, Cummins Inc. in Columbus is one of the largest producers of specialized diesel engines. Cummins Inc. has brought numerous well-paying jobs to Southern Indiana and bolstered the city of Columbus. We simply can't afford or allow the American auto industry to fail.
Other: I am honored and grateful to serve the people of Southern Indiana in Congress. I have, and will continue to be, an independent voice in Congress fighting for the change Hoosier families need and deserve.
D. Eric Schansberg, Libertarian
Personal: Schansberg, 43, of Jeffersonville, and his wife, Tonia, have four sons, two by adoption. He is an economics professor. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1991 and George Mason University in 1986. He also earned a Ph.D. in economics. He ran for this same office in 2006. Voters may contact him at www.EricForCongress.com.
Duties of position sought: U.S. Congress, 9th District — Indiana.
Why are you seeking the office? We need to send a fiscal conservative to Washington in an attempt to restore fiscal sanity.
What qualifies you for the office? I have thought, taught and written about federal public policy for more than 20 years.
What do you consider the top issues in the campaign? Fiscal conservatism (massive debt and spending by most in both major political parties), gas prices and energy policy, Iraq and foreign policy, payroll taxes and Social Security.
Many scientists believe that emissions from coal-fired power plants are causing severe damage to our environment, including the increase of mercury in most bodies of water in the Midwest, including Southern Indiana. Do you favor a plan to reduce these emissions? If so, how should the emissions be reduced and should that plan be funded by the taxpayers, the power companies or both? There is a role for government in regulating pollution. One of the most effective ways to do that is to impose taxes on the pollution itself. Taxes should be imposed on producers which equal the social cost of their output. Those tax revenues should be devoted fully to taking care of the pollution.
Do you support the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street? Why or why not? No. One can imagine apocalyptic scenarios with or without a bailout, but I believe that the possibilities of an apocalypse are greater with a bailout. (For example, what if the $700 billion solution doesn't work?) Beyond that, the costs of the intervention are tremendous — most notably, more downward pressure on the dollar (and its contribution to higher gas and food prices). Finally, why are we giving so much control and so many taxpayer resources to the very people who messed this up?
Do you support the removal of the capital gains tax? Why or why not? Yes. First, it's equitable. Why are we taxing the same income a second time? It's also efficient because it encourages productive behavior, which is good for the economy, jobs, productivity, wages, etc.
With many automakers and their supportive industries located in the northern part of the state, do you believe Congress should pass legislation to help the industry with more taxpayer dollars? No. I don't EVER support taking your money and giving it to a corporation or to Planned Parenthood — as both of my opponents have done. It's neither constitutional, nor equitable, nor practical. (Other than that, it's a wonderful idea!)
Other: People often say they want "change." My candidacy offers a test of that claim. Are you going to waste your vote on more of the same — or are you going to choose a qualified, fresh choice? For more information, go to www.EricForCongress.com. Thanks for your consideration.
Mike Sodrel, Rep.
Personal: Sodrel, 62, of Jeffersonville, and his wife, the former Marquita Dean, have two children, Noah and Keesha. A 1963 graduate of New Albany High School, he is a truck driver and small business owner. He served as the Ninth District U.S. House of Representatives for one two-year term, getting elected in 2004. Voters may contact Sodrel at 1-812-282-2002; email@example.com; www.mikesodrel.com; or www.meetmikesodrel.com.
Duties of position sought: Vote and serve the constituents of Indiana's Ninth Congressional District.
Why are you seeking the office? This election is not about me or my opponent. It's not even about Republicans or Democrats. It's about the future of our kids and grandkids.
What qualifies you for the office? I'm a former Staff Sergeant in the Indiana Army National Guard. I was chosen Small Business Person of the Year in 1995, so I understand what it will take to get this economy moving again. Hard times require strong leadership and I can provide that once again to Hoosiers in the 9th District.
What do you consider top issues in the campaign? Economy, energy independence, jobs.
Many scientists believe that emissions from coal-fired power plants are causing severe damage to our environment, including the increase of mercury in most bodies of water in the Midwest, including Southern Indiana. Do you favor a plan to reduce these emissions? If so, how should the emissions be reduced and should that plan be funded by the taxpayers, the power companies or both? Yes. American Power Generators are working as we speak to reduce coal emissions. Clifty Creek Power Plant in Madison is investing $460 million in additional environmental controls. These "scrubbers" will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by as much as 98 percent. The improvements will not be paid for with tax dollars. The improvements will be paid for by the electric consumer in the form of higher rates. This is the appropriate method of funding emission reductions. It may be appropriate in some cases to accelerate the depreciation of these emission reducing assets.
Do you support the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street? Why or why not? No. In the first place, this problem was caused in large part by government legislation, regulation, and policies. Politicians are quick to point the finger at someone else for this economic problem. The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 required banks to loan money to people they would not have normally extended credit. It required them to accept as collateral assets that were in bad neighborhoods. By the late 1990's "mission creep" had let to mortgages exceeding the value of the home with no money down. Wall Street certainly is not without sin. But, these GSE's (Government Sponsored Enterprises), and Congressional policy, set the stage for this massive failure. We could have removed the cap of FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) Insurance premiums on all deposits. Why shouldn't all deposits be covered? At least until the markets calms down. We could suspend the capital gains tax for two years. This might have reduced Federal Tax Revenues by $250 to $280 billion. Still much cheaper than borrowing $700 billion and adding $150 billon of pork and tax breaks to sweeten the deal. We could have suspended the "mark to market" accounting requirement to improve the capital available for new loans. We have options available to help stimulate the economy without saddling our children and grandchildren with $700 billion of debt. The fair tax would help stimulate our economy by replacing "the more you make the more they take" tax system. The top issue in the campaign is the economy. But it is connected to gas prices, cost and availability of health care and other pocket book issues. In fact I believe the rapid increase in the cost of gasoline, diesel, and aviation farm equipment, tow boats, locomotives, and factory machinery, cause or contributed greatly to the sub prime mortgage failure. If you were one of those people who bought more house than you should have, or if you were barely making ends meet and your family expenses went up $3,000 per year, it would be enough to drive you into foreclosure.
Do you support the removal of the capital gains tax? Why or why not? Yes. I support the removal of Capital Gains Tax, income tax, all payroll tax, the death tax, and the tax code. The fair tax would eliminate all these taxes and close down the IRS. Americans could focus on being as productive as possible instead of spending time thinking about taxes. April 15th would be a good day to go fishing.
With many automakers and their supportive industries located in the northern part of the state, do you believe Congress should pass legislation to help the industry with more taxpayer dollars? No. The fair tax is not really a tax bill it is a jobs bill. Right now, 22 percent of the cost of a product made in America is embedded taxes. Imported products have the taxes, or lack of taxes, or subsidies from their country of origin. The fair tax moves all the taxes from production to the point of sale. This levels the tax playing field between American products and imports. It also makes American products more competitive in a world market place. American manufacturers, producers, and farmers could export to the world tax free. American goods would become more competitive here at home and around the world by changing our tax system. I am absolutely committed to leveling the playing field for American business and American workers. Taxpayer subsidies are the wrong path to take. We can make American cars more competitive by shifting our tax policy, not subsidizing them with taxpayer dollars.
Other: Please visit me on the Web at www.mikesodrel.com and www.meetmikesodrel.com.