September 09, 2010
Koster vs. Larsen: Your Turn [UPDATE]

UPDATE: we'll be accepting questions through Friday. Get 'em in!

The two campaigns for Washington's Second Congressional District, for incumbent Rick Larsen (D) and challenger John Koster (R), have agreed to answer questions posted by you, the readers and voters. This is going to be a close race, and perhaps one of the most-watched in the nation.

So here's how this works: you guys ask the questions, posting them in this Sound Politics discussion. I pick good ones and submit them to the candidates. They send their answers back to me, and I post them. I don't censor, edit, or modify their answers in any way (though as "interviewer," I may ask for clarifications, giving them a chance to revise their answers).

It's no secret that I want John Koster to win this election. But I'll do my best to pick good questions, and since everyone can see all the questions being asked by the commenters, everyone can decide for themselves if I did a reasonable job.

I'll close the questioning at the end of this week. Everyone -- from libertarian to liberal -- is welcome to submit questions here, but not to engage in discussions about the questions or candidates, or to be abusive. Ask questions: don't answer them or fight about them.

Have at it.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

Posted by pudge at September 09, 2010 07:51 AM | Email This
Comments
1. If you go to http://republicanwhip.house.gov/YouCut/ and look at Rep. Larsen's record, you will see that he voted no to every single proposed spending cut. At least and on the surface, most of these expenditures appear frivolous. I would like to hear some examples of some spending that Mr. Larsen would support eliminating.

For Mr. Koster, same questions. Examples please.

Thanks

Posted by: mykela on September 6, 2010 02:04 PM
2. Mr Koster:
You have been in elective office for 16 years. In that time what government departments or agencies have you eliminated or seriously attempted eliminating? As a US congressman what federal agencies and/or departments would you attempt to eliminate?

In other words... you claim to be a small government conservative, please prove to the voting public that you are serious about reducing government powers.

Posted by: Lysander on September 6, 2010 03:02 PM
3. Mr Koster:
Would you support Congressman Ron Paul goal to end the Federal Reserve and return to a gold standard?

Posted by: Lysander on September 6, 2010 03:07 PM
4. What are your specific ideas for washington and the nation as a whole?

Posted by: Laurie on September 6, 2010 03:14 PM
5. I am concerned about an increasing tendency for the rules that we live under to be regulatory decisions made by unelected employees of the Executive branch, often without any input from the Congress. This means that increasingly we are living under rules decided and determined by someone who we do not elect, and so as voters have very little influence or control over.

It is one thing to be made subject to a majority you disagree with. It is quite another to forced to obey a small unelected faceless group of bureaucrats. Half the time I don't even know who they are that are making these new regulations. Are the voters master in their own home or not? Does Congress control the government or not?

This concern seems to me to apply equally to both parties regardless of which one controls the White House.

If you are elected to Congress this year, what steps will you take to re-exert the supremacy of the legislative branch over the executive branch in the making of law? What specific changes would you make to the process of regulatory review to prevent agencies in the future from aggressively extending their power without Congressional authorization? How would you ensure these changes in the rules are applied to both political parties regardless of which one holds the White House in the future?

Posted by: Cicero on September 6, 2010 03:19 PM
6. Do the general welfare and the commerce clauses in the Constitution trump the 10th amendment or are the powers of the federal government enumerated and limited?

Posted by: Dave Thomson on September 6, 2010 03:26 PM
7. Nice job, Pudge. Great idea and congrats for getting both candidates to participate.

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on September 6, 2010 03:30 PM
8. I believe the responsibility of our representatives is twofold, that is 1) read every bill they are voting on and communicate their positions to their constituents, and 2) to do everything in their power to lower the burdeons placed on constituents (reduce taxes, reduce regulation, etc.) It is clear from the healthcare and financial bills passed this year, that those we employ do not understand exactly what they are voting on and that the resulting costs and burdeons on constituents is not a factor in their decisions. What do you feel is your responsibility to those that hire you? Will you agree to read every bill and report your position to your constituents? If no, why not? Where do you see opportunities to reduce the size/cost of government and pass those savings on to the people?

Posted by: scott on September 6, 2010 04:27 PM
9. A question for Rick Larsen, Why has congress not made any atemp to clean up and stop the waste in Medicare? Example: Medicare mandates that medicare pays ($199.00) now $175.00 per month for 3 years. This is $6300.00 paid by the government for oxygen concentrator. This Machine sells for list price $1800.00 but can be bought for $410.00 to $890.00. Plus user must pay $36-56.00 per month which is an additiona $2016.00 or $8316.00 to provider for a machine that cost less than $900.00 They service the machine twice a year. Consisting a $10.00 filter, check flow and oxygen O2 %. This is only one of hunderds or thousands of policies they have implymented.

Posted by: Glenn Olsen on September 6, 2010 04:33 PM
10. A question for Rick Larsen, Why has congress not made any atemp to clean up and stop the waste in Medicare? Example: Medicare mandates that medicare pays ($199.00) now $175.00 per month for 3 years. This is $6300.00 paid by the government for oxygen concentrator. This Machine sells for list price $1800.00 but can be bought for $410.00 to $890.00. Plus user must pay $36-56.00 per month which is an additiona $2016.00 or $8316.00 to provider for a machine that cost less than $900.00 They service the machine twice a year. Consisting a $10.00 filter, check flow and oxygen O2 %. This is only one of hunderds or thousands of policies they have implymented.

Posted by: Glenn Olsen on September 6, 2010 04:33 PM
11. For Larsen: Why have you not realized that people are angry and upset about all the debt the Democrats have rung up just in the last year? Trillion-dollar deficits have been previously unheard of and are scaring heck out of people.

For Koster: What do you think about trillion-dollar deficits, and would you continue them or discontinue them as a congressman?

Posted by: Michele on September 6, 2010 04:52 PM
12. A question for Congressman Larsen: If you and Nancy Pelosi are both re-elected, and she runs for Speaker again, will you vote for her? If so, why?

(That's the question I haven't been able to get Jay Inslee to answer.)

Posted by: Jim Miller on September 6, 2010 04:52 PM
13. haha, Jim---good question. One that should be asked of all democrats this year.

Posted by: Michele on September 6, 2010 05:02 PM
14. A big "thank you" to both candidates and to Sound Politics.

Questions for the candidates:

1. How can our country avoid a fiscal melt-down? The amount of debt, unfunded promises and near- Ponzi schemes like social security and medicare at the national level, and also underfunded pension liabilities for many state and local governments is absolutely mind-boggling. It is many orders of magnitude greater the value of the stock market, for example.

It seems like some combination of tax increases and cutting spending will be needed. The challenge is how to do this without greatly destabilizing the social fabric of the country, and also reducing investment which is key to providing opportunities.

This is a wordy question, and will probably take a wordy response without many numbers. So, question 2 is much more to the point.

2. Very bluntly, how much debt is too much? What level of underfunded promises is too high?

Please give both numbers and percentages of whatever data points you feel are relevant.

Posted by: Stuart Jenner on September 6, 2010 05:15 PM
15. A question for both, Why should the Federal Government continue to send Federal Homeland Security money, or any Federal Funding for that matter to States, Counties and Cities that have declared themselves Sanctuaries for illegal aliens? With programs like Secure Communities, E-Verify and the Federal Governments obvious ability to cross-check databases from Social Security, Immigration and Medicare/Medicaid, there should be no reason for any illegal aliens to be forcibly deported. They will leave if they cannot work, go to school, get non-emergency medical care, drive a car or buy a plane ticket to travel within the US without being properly identified. How is not enforcing the immigration laws not a violation of their oath of office to "Defend America against all enemies, forgeign and domestic?"

Posted by: Smokie on September 6, 2010 07:47 PM
16. Sorry that should read "foreign and domestic".

Posted by: Smokie on September 6, 2010 07:52 PM
17. For both candidates:

The more we learn about Obamacare, the more surprises we find.

1. Do you think the health care bill should be fixed or repealed? yes or no

2. If Yes, what fixes should be made? (Repeal is not really an option with Obama still in office.)

3. How do you propose States pay for the huge increase in unfunded mandated Medicaid costs?

Posted by: janet s on September 6, 2010 09:17 PM
18. To both,

Pat Tillman walked away from millions playing pro football to fight for his country for a pittance by comparison.
How do you view being a congressman? Would this be a temporary (you hope) personal sacrifice for your country, or would winning mean the political equivalent of being drafted into what you hope would be a long prosperous career in the NFL, working in a large marble palace, and being an important person?

If the former, what specific achievement does being a congressman make attainable such that you're willing to make this sacrifice just for the chance to attempt it?

If congressional pay and benefits package was cut 75% would you still be running?

Posted by: Carlton on September 6, 2010 11:58 PM
19. I should add that a major criteria I use for evaluating answers is the number of platitudes contained within them. Fewer is better.

Posted by: Carlton on September 7, 2010 12:06 AM
20. Over the years, the federal government has increasingly become involved in areas that were previously (in accordance with the 10th Amendment) the province of the states. If such programs as energy, housing, healthcare, and education were returned back to the states and the American people, wouldn't that lead to an across-the-board improvement - lower costs, superior results, more accountability, and increased freedom for the people to determine the scope and/or necessity of such programs?

Posted by: Steve Beren on September 7, 2010 09:05 AM
21. For Larsen:

What legislation that you have been involved in do you consider your greatest accomplishment and how did you contribute to its success?

For Koster:

We have a massive deficit and most people agree we are going to have to cut some spending. How would you go about deciding which spending to cut and which is necessary?

Posted by: Cliff on September 7, 2010 09:05 AM
22. For both candidates:

Has the federal government exceeded the limits given to us in our constitution?

If so,how? And if so what would you propose to do to rectify or bring the federal government back to the limitations of the constitution?

Posted by: Joe Wilson on September 7, 2010 10:15 AM
23. Mr Koster,

Do you support Congressman Dave Reichert?

Posted by: Steve on September 7, 2010 12:27 PM
24. Mr. Koster,
Do you believe Paul Ryan's economic recovery plan can succeed. If you think it needs modifications, what would those be?

Posted by: Kathleen Hay on September 7, 2010 06:23 PM
25. Question to both:

Should the next Congress support funding of the full ObamaCare program or are there components that should not be funded? If so, please identify them.

Posted by: Linc on September 8, 2010 02:27 PM
26. I like question 15 but to go further would each candidate support enforcing the law in the Constitution that does not give citizenship to children of illegal aliens?

Posted by: Annette M. Blandino on September 8, 2010 07:40 PM
27. How would you address the 14th Amendment in the Constitution, regarding children born in the USA to illegal immigrants ?

Possible answers; leave it alone, vote on overturning this in Congress, or send it to the Supreme Court

Posted by: KDS on September 8, 2010 09:17 PM
28. How would you address the 14th Amendment in the Constitution, regarding children born in the USA to illegal immigrants ?

Possible answers; leave it alone, vote on overturning this in Congress, or send it to the Supreme Court

Posted by: KDS on September 8, 2010 09:17 PM
29. Koster: (as there is no sense asking an incumbant Democrat such questions)

Would you vote for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included closing (and if necessary militarizing) our southern border and also terminated ALL federally-funded benefits to illegals? This package would also include:

1. stiff fines and even prison terms for those who hire illegals.

2. cutoff of specific funds to states and municipalities that refuse to comply with immigration laws and also those that establish themselves as "sanctuaries" for illegal aliens.

Posted by: Saltherring on September 9, 2010 07:33 AM
30. question #4 above is for Mr Koster.

Posted by: Laurie on September 9, 2010 08:01 AM
31. Vote for Koster. Just heard he wants to privatize Social Security. So when Wall street went bad would have lost a lot of funds. He even wants to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. I guess he is rich but for some people Social Security is their only income. SOme people would say why don't people think ahead and save. Well maybe some couldn't save because they were just trying to make it day to day. I'm really surprised people are voting for Koster. Let's stop spending but what happens to people who are depending on some of these services. I guess to hell with them.

Posted by: Karen on September 9, 2010 10:30 AM
32. Karen, thank you for opinion: except this particular discussion is for asking questions of the candidates. If you have questions for both, or either, candidates, please ask them. Thanks.

Posted by: pudge on September 9, 2010 10:47 AM
33. Saltherring: I removed your comment. You were not asking a question but arguing with another person here. Save the arguments for when the candidates answer the questions. :-)

Posted by: pudge on September 9, 2010 11:28 AM
34. For both candidates:

If you are for maintaining the new Healthcare mandates, will you pledge to remove the existing Cadillac plan that Congress members enjoy and instead live under the same plans that you have placed upon the citizenry?

I am concerned that Congressional representation has become a glamorous career instead of a limited service. Will you support term limits for all Congressional members to end the corruption of long term incumbency?

Posted by: Jeff B. on September 9, 2010 11:48 AM
35. Both candidates:

Would you support, or introduce, legislation to completely eliminate spending in legislative bills not related to the main topic. I.E. eliminate pork spending.

I may not have said that the correct way but the idea is right. There should be no allowing legislators to add unrelated spending (or favoritist spending) to bills. A bill should be one issue so that the public can be very clear what their elected official is doing.

Want to vote for a transportation bill? Don't load it with pork for a powerful senator's hometown airport. Don't load an education bill with spending for the arts and then blame the "other" side for killing an education bill when really they are voting against public art funding.

I can't get that into a good question. Maybe you can Pudge?

Posted by: Mr. RcGuy on September 9, 2010 02:05 PM
36. Both candidates:

a) What will you do about the Skagit River Flood Risk?

b) Will you repeal the National Flood Insurance Program?

Why?

Right now, we've got FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps coming in that are going to raise many a Skagit citizen's taxe$ thru flood insurance rates based on what our muincipal bureaucrats say is questionable science. We're also tired of the Town of Hamilton flooding again and getting bailed out without a levee or relocation while we in Burlington & Mount Vernon pay thru the nose for flood insurance - with rates destined to skyrocket in a few months.

Posted by: Mr. Skagitonian on September 9, 2010 08:01 PM
37. Can you please ask Congressmen Rick Larson how he could be one of only 3 Congressmen nationwide to vote to continue Federal Funding for a ACORN after he knew they were under investigation for fraud? This is an outrage and he has some explaining to do.

Thank you.

Kim

Posted by: Miss Kim on September 9, 2010 09:05 PM
38. Actually, I'd love to hear both candidates answer #24 as well!

To reiterate: Do you support Paul Ryan's economic recovery plan?

Posted by: Emily on September 9, 2010 10:38 PM
39. To Both: Virtually all current (and most of the recent past) studies regarding intimate partner violence show that women and men are nearly equal as domestic violence perpetrators as well as victims. Many groups, even the ACLU, are increasingly concerned about civil rights violations occurring throughout the country as a direct result of the act. Congress has approved 625.91 million dollars for implementation and the white house wants 730 million next year. Do you support increased funding, have you actually read the entire VAWA, are you concerned about the civil rights violation potential and do you support reform to end the same?

Posted by: shaydo on September 10, 2010 08:36 AM
40. To both candidates,

Do you support Paul Ryan's Road map for America's Future Act? Why or why not?

Posted by: Carrie on September 10, 2010 09:59 AM
41. To both candidates,

Do you support Paul Ryan's Road map for America's Future Act? Why or why not?

Posted by: Carrie on September 10, 2010 10:02 AM
42. Mr. Koster and Mr. Larson
How will you respond to pressure from the unions in relation to card check, outsourcing, etc., specifically IAM 751.

Posted by: Brucelog on September 10, 2010 10:28 AM
43. In August Congress reconvened to vote for the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act. Do you support that vote?"

Posted by: Thomas on September 10, 2010 10:32 AM
44. Mr. Koster and Mr. Larson
How will you respond to pressure from the unions in relation to card check, outsourcing, etc., specifically IAM 751.

Posted by: Brucelog on September 10, 2010 11:11 AM
45. Questions for Rep. Larson and Commissioner Koster:

How do you see stabilizing Social Security for the future years?
Do you favor privatization?
Do you favor lifting the cap on income earned, increasing the contributions of those who make over $175,000?
Do you favor raising the retirement age to 70?

Thanks for this great opportunity to speak to the Candidates!

Posted by: Jay Brand on September 10, 2010 12:14 PM
46. To both candidates: How do you plan to fix the economy? Do you support Paul Ryan's budget, or President Obama's budget?

Posted by: L Smith on September 10, 2010 12:17 PM
47. To both candidates: How do you plan to fix the economy? Do you support Paul Ryan's budget, or President Obama's budget?

Posted by: L Smith on September 10, 2010 12:18 PM
48. To Rep. Larson
Americans have been promised repeatedly that nobody with an income under 250K will have their taxes increased. Isn't it true that ALL workers whose insurance benefits are paid for by their employers will have the cost of that benefit added to the individual employees W2 form as gross income and the worker will then be taxed on it. Do you consider this a tax increase or not?

Posted by: Cindy on September 10, 2010 12:39 PM
49. For both candidates:
Recently Congress passed The Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Tax bill. This is a valuable piece of legislation returning thousands of teachers to work. Do you support it?

Posted by: Curt on September 10, 2010 12:57 PM
50. I've seen a couple of people post about the vote this August, and if you ask me, it's nothing but a giveaway to the big unions. I too would like to know if Mr. Koster supported the vote, and what, if anything, Congressman Larsen would change about the legislation.

Thank you.

Posted by: Sandra on September 10, 2010 01:15 PM
51. To both candidates:
How would you have voted on the DMCA and USAPATRIOT acts?

Would you force Pres. Obama to remove prisoners from Guantanamo Bay?
Would you have forced Pres. Bush to do the same?
If so then how would you do it?

Even though you are not in that jurisidiction, would you allow or not allow the so-called ground-zero mosque to be built in NYC?

Posted by: Paul on September 10, 2010 04:22 PM
52. At a candidate forum at WWU in Bellingham in 2006, I asked Rick Larsen where in the US Constitution he found authorization to legislate in a particular area. His response was "We do all sort of things in WA DC that aren't in the Constitution."

To me, this suggests a total callous disregard for the document he swears an oath to preserve, protect and defend.

And it's not like he can claim ignorance of what is in the Constitution, since he was a political science major in college.

The Constitution is enjoying a recent surge in popularity these days.

So I'd like to ask Mr. Larsen the same question again:

"Where in the US Constitution do you find authorization to legislate in such areas as health care, recreational drug commerce and use, and education?"

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