September 10, 2008
Vos odd man out at forum with Flashinski, Mason
Republican Robin Vos was odd man out Tuesday at a candidate forum, sandwiched between his 63rd Assembly District opponent in November, Linda Flashinski, and Cory Mason, another Democrat, whose 62nd District opponent, Keith Deschler, did not attend.
Flashinski and Mason pretty much double-teamed Vos while answering the mostly fiscal questions posed by the Racine Taxpayers Association. "Yes" and "yes" said Flashinski and Mason, to Vos' "no." Or Vos said "yes," while Flashinski and Mason said "no." Topics ranged from Healthy Wisconsin, to school funding, from concealed carry to vouchers, from activist churches to Economics 101. The vote was two to one.
The consolation for Vos, however, is that his positions were undoubtedly more in line with the Taxpayers Association, which rarely has met a tax it likes, although the two dozen at the forum, held at the YMCA, were respectful of all the candidates.
Here's some of the Q&A:
Q: Why do you feel affordable health care is so important? (Answers quickly devolved to a discussion of Healthy Wisconsin, Gov. Doyle's failed effort to provide universal health care in the state.)
Vos: "This would have been the largest tax increase in the U.S.... run by nameless, faceless bureaucrats."
Mason: "Healthy Wisconsin was flawed and problematic for large employers. But I feel I deal with the nameless, faceless bureaucrats at my HMO."
Flashinski: "Other industrialized nations provide health care for all citizens at half the cost of the U.S....We need just three seats in the Assembly for health care reform to be addressed."
Q: Would you eliminate non-profit status for churches that engage in political activities?
Mason: "I'm not a lawyer, but there are certain guidelines. Non-profits should follow the law.
Flashinski" "It's important that churches not tell their members how to vote."
Vos: "They should get more involved, but not tell congregations how to vote."
Q: Do you believe Economics 101, which states that lower taxes improve the economy and higher taxes damage it? Would you reduce taxes?
Flashinski: "I believe what helps people is prosperity. Between 1948 and 1999, tax rates for the rich were cut 57% while yours has quadrupled. It's important to tax fairly and spend wisely. Other things are important, like creating jobs and transit."
Vos: "Yes, I believe in Eco 101. Raising taxes usually stifles economic growth. I pledge I will not vote to raise taxes. States with a low tax climate are growing."
Mason: "I would disagree with the premise that is Economics 101. There are two theories: Milton Friedman believes less government is better. John Maynard Keynes believed investing in job training and infrastructure like roads will lead to a better return on those tax dollars."
Q: Concealed carry.
Vos: "We're one of only two states without it. I was one of the co-sponsors. It died by a single vote in the Assembly, a Democrat. I am not afraid of people who have gone through the background check."
Flashinski: "I opposed it. People don't want to go to a restaurant thinking the person in the next booth might be armed. Robin Vos even opposed a bill to ban weapons on school playgrounds."
Mason: "If you live in a community with gun violence, your view is different than if you live in a rural area. I've yet to see the public policy benefit. I opposed it; my survey of 600 came up two-to-one opposed to it."
Q: School choice, vouchers.
Flashinski: "I'm very, very in favor of choice for people. The problem is that today "choice" is used for vouchers."
Vos: "Yes, I do support giving parents "scholarships" for send their children to the school they want. Imagine if there was just one restaurant, or one garage to take your car to. I believe in competition."
Mason: I do not support the voucher program nor its expansion. The program is a distraction and a disastrous one. The voucher program in Milwaukee has not closed the achievement gap."
Q. Do you support the Taxpayer Bill of Rights?
Q. Do you support the expansion of the QEO for all public employees?
Mason: "I'm in favor of repealing the QEO for teachers. I believe in collective bargaining. We need to move schools away from property taxes."
Flashinski: "The QEO is a very unfair thing, applied to just one group of workers. The QEO is not right."
Vos: "I do not support repealing the QEO."