Sutton, Renacci Draw Clear Lines In 16th District Debate

Jim Renacci and Betty Sutton, at Wednesday's debate (photos by Bill Rice)
Jim Renacci and Betty Sutton, at Wednesday's debate (photos by Bill Rice)
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Finally, some sparks in the race for Ohio’s 16th Congressional district as two incumbents met face to face at a debate at the City Club of Cleveland. Ideastream’s Bill Rice reports Republican Jim Renacci and Democrat Betty Sutton demonstrated widely divergent on how to fix and ailing economy and create jobs.

The debate began with each candidate describing their blue collar roots – Sutton, the daughter of a boilermaker, Renacci, the son of a railroad worker. But as we’ve heard often in this campaign, they have little in common when it comes to governing.

Renacci, a business entrepreneur and multi-millionaire, said the best way to create jobs is to lower taxes and loosen regulations on private business owners. He said that would foster an environment of certainty and predictability that’s been lost during the Obama presidency.

Renacci: Government doesn’t create jobs. Businesses create jobs. Entrepreneurs create jobs. People in the private sector create jobs. So what we need to do is bring certainty and predicatability back.

Sutton, a labor lawyer who has spent most of her career in elected office, said the main problem with the economy is that policies championed and pushed through by the Bush administration favor the wealthy and squeeze the middle class.

Sutton: “I believe in simple economics that jobs are created when demand for products is there, and demand is created by fighting for a vibrant middle class, not just by putting more wealth into the hands of those who are already super wealthy so they can hold onto it.”

The two sparred extensively on taxes, with Renacci arguing for extending the Bush cuts, which are set to expire in January, across the board.

Renacci: “We should never raise taxes on anyone during a recession. She voted for that in 2010 and she agreed. She voted not to raise taxes on anyone, and to extend the tax rates.”

It was a backhanded compliment, and one that Sutton wasn’t standing for. She argued for keeping the cuts only for the first $250,000 of income, and blamed an obstructionist Congress for not letting them expire for income above that.

Sutton: “The controlling block in the House of Representatives that my opponent is a part of, they held the middle class tax cuts hostage to the taxes for the super wealthy. I think they should have expired. And you know what? Where are the jobs?”

On entitlements like Medicare and Social Security, Sutton again characterized Renacci as a tow-the-line Republican who would put seniors at the mercy of the private sector.

Sutton: “My opponent voted to end Medicare as we know it, turn it into a voucher program, cause seniors to have to pay more with no guarantee that they would get the care that they needed. I think that is the wrong approach.”

Renacci insisted it’s important to maintain entitlement programs so that they are there for everyone. But he says they’re unsustainable as they are, and that Sutton is ignoring the problem.

Renacci: She’s voted to do nothing. We know what happens if you do nothing. If you do nothing right now Medicare will be insolvent. Social Security will be insolvent in 20 some plus years. We need to make sure that we reform it, so that everyone will have Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for our future generations.

And on the affordable care act, Renacci vowed to repeal it, saying it’s done nothing to lower health care costs.

Renacci: “The president said that costs would come down by 2000 dollars per year. They’ve gone up by $2,000 per year.”

Sutton , who supports the law, countered:

Sutton: “If there’s anyone here listening that thinks health care costs were not going up before we passed a health care bill, I would be very surprised.”

While there’s no solid polling on the 16th district race, many believe it’s very competitive. It’s among the top house races in outside advertising – mostly attack ads - with over 4 million dollars spent by independent groups.

Bill Rice, 90.3

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