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Goodlatte, Schmookler vie for votes in debate

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke), left, and his challenger, Democrat Andy Schmookler, faced questions on economics, health care and transportation in a debate on Monday.

6th district candidates spar on economy, more at Turner Ashby High School

By Jeb Inge

BRIDGEWATER -- Monday's debate between the candidates for Virginia's 6th Congressional District didn't bristle with the dismissive body language or allusions to Big Bird featured in the presidential and vice presidential showdowns, but it was no less indicative of the disparity between candidates facing voters on Nov. 6.

In their second of three debates - held at Turner Ashby High School's auditorium - Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke) and his challenger, Democrat Andy Schmookler, faced questions on economics, health care and transportation from students of Rockingham County high schools.

Goodlatte, currently in his 11th term, largely spoke in themes of restricted government and an increased reliance on personal responsibility.

To Goodlatte, economic growth and government spending are the two biggest issues facing the nation.

"We can create millions of jobs if we would have government policy that encourages investment in our economy and ... a domestic energy policy that would incentivize the production of more of all sources of energy domestically," Goodlatte said in his opening statement.

Goodlatte credited the federal government's "over-regulation" of the manufacturing and financial sectors with the hampering of economic growth under the Obama administration.

Without that regulation, businesses will have increased fiscal breathing room and will infuse jobs and capital back into the economy.

"There needs to be employment not just for young people, but for all people in this country, and in far greater numbers," he said.

Schmookler, a self-proclaimed "seeker of the truth," credits his perceived lack of honesty in Washington with bringing him into politics for the first time. He attributes that lack of honesty and "truth telling" to Goodlatte and the Republican Party.

"It is as a truth-teller and not a partisan that I say, never in our country's history has a political party been so dishonest with the American people," he said.

Schmookler went on to liken Goodlatte's themes of limited government to scare tactics broadly used across the Republican Party to garner support for GOP resistance to "big government." He then went on to purport that Goodlatte supports a type of "big government" that "tramples on the liberties that the founding fathers gave us."

The candidates fielded questions from students on a number of topics:

On the cost of higher education

Goodlatte, in the vein of his earlier message on limited government, said that college costs are primarily the responsibility of private institutions in the case of private schools and state governments with public universities and community colleges. He also urged that the federal government refrain from setting price controls or placing restrictions on public and private institutions.

Schmookler attacked Goodlatte, claiming he voted against measures for the continued stabilization of student loan interest rates, which Goodlatte claimed he supported.
Schmookler then deemed education a "right" and advocated an increase in Pell grants and student loans.

On Social Security

Schmookler cited income disparity as a catalyst for Social Security's revenue generation or lack thereof. But he advocated only minor tweeks rather than full privatization, which he said would then turn the program into a "Wall Street casino."

Goodlatte said he believes that by borrowing from Social Security, the government adds debt to future generations, and instead advocates making the program actuarily sound, citing the importance of people paying into the system who will later take out.

On defense spending

Schmookler, who previously worked for the U.S. Army and as an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., lambasted the current level of defense spending. He urged a reduction of spending in favor of other sectors.

"Can you imagine any reason why a country with our values should be spending as much as the rest of the world put together?" he asked.

Goodlatte advocated striking a balance between spending and fiscal responsibility, but also urged that cuts should not be high and done only when full budgetary reviews were completed.

The debate, held at 10:30 a.m. and the closest to the northern Shenandoah Valley, was attended by an audience nearly two-thirds high school students.

On transportation

When asked about problems facing transportation in the Shenandoah Valley, Goodlatte cited a limitation on resources, brought on by trillion-dollar deficits. He went on to highlight his efforts on starting expansion and widening projects on Interstate 81. He also highlighted efforts to improve railroad infrastructure, such as the Heartland Corridor project, which would then take heavy truck traffic off of Interstate 81 and onto rail.

Schmookler sees transportation projects as a method to increase jobs, but blamed Republicans for blocking Obama administration efforts to increase such projects.

Schmookler and Goodlatte will meet for a third and final debate on Tuesday at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Contact Region Editor Jeb Inge at 540-465-5137 ext. 186, or jinge@nvdaily.com


The third debate will occur at Liberty University. Liberty University? The same Jerry Falwell private school of bible thumping evangelical fundamentalist ultra conservatism? The same Liberty University that invited Willard "Mitt" Romney to give the commencement speech this past May? THAT Liberty University? Holy roley moley. Schmookler's brass pair gets my vote just for showing up for the debate.

Did anybody read anything in NV Daily about the first debate?

The Republican party has a cookie cutter image of all who represent them and Goodlatte comes from that tray. If you've heard one, you've heard them all!

Why didn't one of these local television stations show this debate?

Goodlatte has overstayed his welcome. We need someone who will represent us - not the fat cats who bought him! Get this "career" politician out of Washington and give Andy Schmookler a chance to serve for a change.

VOTE 4 Andy on November 6th.

Liberty University may be the only, and last, venue in the district where Goodlatte might receive favorable reviews for his signing the Norquist anti-new tax pledge, thereby ursurping his sworn inaugeral oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, replacing the interests of the citizens he was elected to represent with the anger of Teabilly grumpy old white guys who populate the Tea Party, a haven for evangelical fundamentalists.


The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life published these results last week: 1 in 5 adults have no religious affiliation.

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public -- and a third of adults under 30 -- are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).

The percentage of Americans who consider themselves atheist, agnostic, or unaffiliated has nearly tripled over the last generation. In terms of political impact, it's widely recognized that the Republican Party faces serious demographic challenges in the coming years. Americans are increasingly racially and ethnically diverse, and the GOP has become heavily reliant on white male voters to win elections.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) recently conceded "The demographics race we're losing badly. We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term."

Reference for the Sen. Lindsey Graham quote:


Religion poisons everything.

TERM LIMITS. Wolf and Goodlatte have overstayed their welcome. Been in Congress for decades yet try to lay the blame for the mess on someone else. What is it? Don't blame you, don't blame me, blame the guy behind the tree.

I am surprised that Jeb Inge missed the highlight of the debate....that moment when the unexpected occurred.

Somewhere in the middle of the debate (in the WMRA recording at around the 20-21 marker) the question was asked,... what is your position on the pros and cons of hydro-fracking? Candidate Schmookler's answer set off a storm of applause that were initiated by the students; applause that were in fact against the debate rules.

What Dr. Schmookler said about hydro-fracking, fossil fuels and climate change must have struck a chord with the students since it very likely agreed with what they have learned in Earth Science. Apparently the truth about climate change is particularly important to the students as well as to the many other observers who quickly joined in the applause.

How was this outstanding moment overlooked by the writer?

Overlooked because it was significant most likely. ; ]
Thanks for bringing that to our attention. I hope Andy blows this guy out of the water!

"Schmookler attacked Goodlatte, claiming he voted against measures for the continued stabilization of student loan interest rates, which Goodlatte claimed he supported."

They're both wrong. Let the rates float with the market instead of being artificially set.

"Schmookler then deemed education a "right" and advocated an increase in Pell grants and student loans."

I haven't seen that "right" in the Constitution or Bill of Rights. Pell Grants, which don't have to be repaid, rose 2008 to 2011 from $16.3B to $41.7B. The $25.4B is an additional amount the the U.S. taxpayers borrowed to give away. For a good cause perhaps, but still a give-away. I couldn't find an explanation for why the funding increased by 256% during the past three years. There's surely a need, but there's a need for a lot of things - infrastructure repair for example, which also creates jobs.

Social Security

"Schmookler cited income disparity as a catalyst for Social Security's revenue generation or lack thereof. But he advocated only minor tweeks rather than full privatization, which he said would then turn the program into a 'Wall Street casino'."

Andy is correct about income disparity. Higher incomes contribute more up to the limits. Who doesn't know that? I haven't done the math but because of max contributions/ benefits, it's possible that a person who made lower income over his/her career than another person could get the same SSI benefit as the person who made the higher income. Andy doesn't like Bob's/Rep's solution but he only offered "minor tweeks" to fix a major problem.

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