All four candidates for Washington’s 5th Congressional District were asked the same series of questions on key issues. Here are their answers.
Candidates are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot.
What will be your top legislative goal when Congress convenes next January?
Cathy McMorris Rodgers: My top legislative goal is spending and tax reform that leads to a balanced federal budget and job creation.
Dave Wilson: Form a new caucus called the Centrist Caucus of mainstream Republicans and moderate Democrats and get them to vote as a bloc to end gridlock.
Joe Pakootas: Look at creating more jobs and rebuilding the economy by rebuilding some of our infrastructure.
Tom Horne: Enforce immigration laws. Not allow the states’ social safety nets to be used by illegal immigrants.
What’s the highest level of support the United States should give Iraq?
McMorris Rodgers: We need a plan from the president as to the way forward in Iraq so we do not squander the sacrifices made by so many servicemen and women. We have seen that when the president of the United States signals that he is unwilling to use military force, the cause of freedom, good governance and human rights suffers setbacks around the world.
Wilson: I do not trust (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-) Maliki; as long as he’s in power I might support sending advisers and maybe some air support. But until he goes, nothing else.
Pakootas: There’s no way we should go in there like we did in the past. I think the diplomatic approach is the best way, with everybody sitting down to negotiate.
Horne: Airstrikes, manned and drone. Consensus for return with boots on the ground impossible at this point. Big mistake pulling out in 2011.
What’s the most important change Congress should make to immigration law?
McMorris Rodgers: Secure our borders and allow people to come to this country legally. With thousands of innocent children coming in illegally right now, we need to secure the border to prevent a greater humanitarian crisis.
Wilson: I support the 2013 Senate bill with a path to apply for provisional visas, pay back taxes and demonstrate good citizenship to get on a waiting list for citizenship.
Pakootas: The House should pass the 2013 Senate bill, then Congress can modify it later if they need to.
Horne: Enforce the existing law and make E-Verify mandatory for employers.
What’s the most important change to the Affordable Care Act that you would support next year?
McMorris Rodgers: I have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it is fundamentally flawed and a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to health care reform. In the short term, I would support legislation that ensures coverage for pre-existing conditions and that if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it.
Wilson: With Obama president for another two years … the odds of any major change taking place to that legislation is almost nil. I’m not going to spend an ounce of energy on it.
Pakootas: I would like to give it about another year, then see where you need to adjust it.
Horne: Repeal and replace Obamacare with an agreed-upon program with bipartisan support. (He didn’t have details and acknowledged that would require a new president, which wouldn’t happen next year, but said Congress should get a replacement plan ready to go.)
What’s the most important change to the tax code you would support next year?
McMorris Rodgers: The tax code should be simpler and less burdensome for everyone. We should close tax loopholes and reduce tax brackets.
Wilson: Favors an updated Simpson-Bowles plan that eliminates loopholes and credits, has few brackets and a lower tax rate.
Pakootas: Make sure everybody’s paying their fair share of income tax by looking at the tax rates.
Horne: Close loopholes like corporate loopholes that allow GE to make $5 billion and pay no tax, and the home mortgage (interest) deduction that would also reduce real estate prices.
What should Congress do about states that have legalized marijuana in some form?
McMorris Rodgers: I remain concerned about the potential for abuse and criminal activity. I want to respect the will of Washington voters as the DEA closely monitors the situation in both Colorado and Washington for the prevention of abuse, criminal activity, or illegal use to make sure we are safe.
Wilson: That’s not one of my priorities. I would probably be OK with moving it to a Schedule 2 where it could be prescribed by doctors.
Pakootas: Monitor the situation. I don’t know if the federal government should spend money on a state that has legalized it.
Horne: Ignore it. If a state has legalized marijuana the federal government should take a hands-off attitude with that state.