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October 1, 2012

 

Hanna, Lamb speak at forum

Republican incumbent, Democratic challenger outline positions

ForumJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Democrat Dan Lamb, left, listens as incumbent Republican Rep. Richard Hanna, right, answers questions during a candidates forum Saturday at the Cortland Elks Lodge. Hanna is running against Lamb for a second congressional term in New York’s 22nd District.

By NEIL BENJAMIN JR.
Staff Reporter
nbenjamin@cortlandstandardnews.net

The candidates forum Saturday for the 22nd Congressional District between incumbent Republican Richard Hanna and challenger Dan Lamb outlined each candidate’s positions on national platforms but little on the local side.
Amy Simrell, executive director of the Cortland YWCA, moderated the event at the Elks Lodge on Groton Avenue. It was sponsored by the Cortland Area Chamber of Commerce and the Cortland Women’s Coalition, as well as the League of Women Voters, SUNY Women’s Studies Program, the YWCA and the Zonta Club.
Simrell began by stating the event was not a debate, but rather a public forum for which each candidate can speak on the issues presented to them. She also explained the issues to be discussed were more on a national level, and the final three scheduled forums would focus more on local issues.
Each candidate was allowed a three minute opening speech. Lamb, a Freeville resident, immediately challenged Hanna of Barneveld to debate him on a more public platform, such as on television, saying, “I know he has the time to do so.”
The challenger spoke about how this region needs better leadership, and to keep jobs in the area. He said he will fight for Medicare to keep it public instead of privatizing it and making it a voucher program, going against Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s plan. He said Hanna has twice voted in favor of Ryan’s voucher program.
He also said he is against hydrofracking, or cracking through rock to get to the earth’s natural gas, because not enough research has been done to determine how safe the process is. He claimed Hanna has a vested interest in the oil industry and that is why he is in support of the gas drilling procedure.
“For the last 15 years, I’ve worked as hard as I could to get where I am,” the long-time staff member for Congressman Maurice Hinchey said to close out his opening. “Elect me. I’ll work for you.”
Hanna opened by talking about how he started with nothing and built his career and wealth by himself. He said his father died when Hanna was 20, and that he and his four sisters put themselves through college before he became a politician. He praised his openness, saying he held more than 40 town hall-style meetings in his two years in office.
He added that many of his decisions are based upon what he wants for his children’s future.
“Our needs are unique in New York,” he said. “And I’ve been pretty effective in Congress.”
The first question dealt with job creation and stimulating the economy. Hanna said it is a layered operation and that it starts from the ground up with small businesses creating local jobs. He also said the recent stimulus package handed out by President Barack Obama was wasted, and that he would have spent half of that money on improving infrastructure to create more unique jobs.
Lamb attacked Hanna, saying “Rich has been part of the inaction” on Congress’ side, that it has done nothing but stonewall growth and create a divide.
“This has been the least productive Congress in history,” he said.
He did agree with Hanna on investing in infrastructure as a way to stimulate the sagging economy.
Lamb said he thinks 25 percent of the federal deficit was created due to former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy. He said Congress had a chance to work on what Bush did, but decided to remain inactive until it was too late. He also said he did not want taxes raised on the lower and middle classes.
Hanna said he toed the line between both parties during that time, saying $817 billion was wasted by Congress in tax cuts. He also agreed that Congress is not functioning in the way it should, adding the tax cuts, which expire at the end of this year, should be extended but instead of the line being at $250,000 income it should be $500,000. He said the number is low and affects too many small businesses.
On the issue of Social Security, Hanna said it is a great system that needs to be fixed, stating that in 1933, 34 people paid into the pool for every one taking out. Right now, he said, that ratio is three-to-one. He said raising the age limit to collect is one way to remedy the issue.
Lamb accused Hanna of supporting privatizing Social Security.
“He said he has been open to it in the past,” Lamb said.
The Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — was a hot-button issue. Lamb supports implementation of the act, while Hanna is completely against it.
Lamb said 50 million Americans without health insurance brings the country back to “the bad old days,” where being a woman is essentially a preexisting condition,
“To repeal the act is irresponsible,” he said.
Hanna said people do not like the act and that it needs to be done away with. He cited local company Welch Allyn’s decision to layoff 10 percent of its workforce, blaming the decision on Obamacare.
Hanna said he has “a good record in Congress of supporting women’s rights” when the abortion topic came up. He claimed he contributes to Planned Parenthood and supported it when it was on the chopping block.
Lamb said he is also pro-choice. He said he has used Planned Parenthood as a resource.
He claimed Hanna said he would not vote to repeal Obamacare, but said Hanna lied by voting to repeal it 30 times.
They both agree that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were “unfounded” and that they have taken a huge toll on America’s economy.

 

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