Dicks, Cloud debate in front of unruly audience
by AMANDA WINTERS
Congressman Norm Dicks, Democrat, faced his Republican challenger Doug Cloud at a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Clallam County on Oct. 13 at Sequim Community Church.
The sanctuary was almost full and despite ground rules laid out before the debate began, the audience had no qualms about making their opinions known. At one point the moderator, Cathy Claney, threatened to end the debate because of the jeers, boos and deriding laughter produced by members of the audience while Dicks responded to questions. At the end of the debate a woman from Kitsap County stood up and shouted at Dicks, demanding to know why he hadn't debated Cloud in Bremerton and if he would. As she shouted, she was ushered out of the sanctuary by event organizers.
On the economy and taxes
Dicks and Cloud, who is challenging the 17-term incumbent for the fourth time, had wildly different opinions on how to improve the country's economy and bring down the federal deficit.
Dicks voiced his support for a bipartisan infrastructure bill to put money into building better roads, bridges, trails and wastewater treatment plants, which will create jobs, he said.
"Building trails three or four people will walk on won't create lasting jobs," Cloud responded.
Cloud said he supports extending the Bush tax cuts and believes ending them would hamper small business owners.
"I don't know why people are so jealous of success," he said.
Dicks said he supports continuing the tax cuts on 98 percent of Americans as passed by President Obama but the top 2 percent of earners need to share more of the burden.
"If we are serious about the national debt, we can't keep on doing what the Republicans do, which is cut taxes without paying for it," Dicks said. Letting the Bush tax cuts on the top 2 percent expire would cut $700 billion from the federal deficit, he said.
Cloud painted Dicks as a special-interest-tainted "sugar daddy" who encourages government dependence.
"What I hope to accomplish is to change the country and the world so we can be happy and free and prosperous instead of becoming a whiny, Latin American-style country," he said.
On the issue of equal pay for women, Dicks said he co-sponsored the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which restored an employee's right to challenge pay discrimination.
Dicks said women only get paid 78 percent of what men do and he supports equal pay. Cloud, he said, does not.
At the end of the debate Cloud called Dicks a liar and claimed he never said he didn't support equal pay.
Dicks later said he was referencing something Cloud said in a 2008 debate when equal pay was discussed.
Cloud was quoted in a newspaper as saying: "Women are different from men. ... Men are useless if they do not have a paycheck. Women are not."
Health care and Social Security
On the subject of health care, Cloud said the recently passed health care bill should be repealed, which was met with both boos and applause from the audience.
Cloud said he thinks the bill will lead to rationing of health care, especially for the elderly, and coercion of physicians, ultimately making them become government employees.
Dicks said Olympic Medical Center will benefit from the bill through federal payments, which will allow providers on the Olympic Peninsula to be paid more comparably to providers elsewhere.
Under the bill, 32 million Americans will be insured who weren't before, and no one will lose their insurance because of it, he said.
The candidates were asked about their stance on privatizing Social Security.
Cloud said he would support privatization of Social Security for younger generations but not for those already receiving Social Security payments.
"Some people need to take what they're giving Social Security, which is around 15 percent, and put it aside," he said.
Dicks said he supports the existing system with the caveat that it can be improved.
He doesn't want to put people's futures in the hands of the stock market, which is risky, he said.
The candidates did agree on one thing: Neither supports a state income tax.
Reach Amanda Winters at email@example.com.