For pictures and a video of the debate go to: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/
The following is the media coverage from the debate;
Norwich Bulletin – Congressional candidates do battle on guns, climate change – http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/20161020/congressional-candidates-do-battle-on-guns-climate-change
WILLIMANTIC – The candidates running for the 2nd Congressional District sounded off on college affordability, defense spending and gun control at their debate Thursday at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Republican Daria Novak and Libertarian Dan Reale joined Green Party candidate Jonathan Pelto and incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, on the stage of the Fine Arts Center at Eastern. The debate was sponsored by The Bulletin and moderated by Bulletin Opinion Page Editor Brendan Cox.
All had differing views on how they’d address hot-button issues such as gun control.
Courtney said he supports “common sense measures that are long overdue,” such as a background check bill that would close loopholes, and the “no fly, no buy” law that would prohibit people on the no-fly watch list from buying a gun.
“Those are common-sense measures with bipartisan support,” he said.
Novak said such measures as “safe zones” and “no fly, no buy” don’t work, and Reale has said it’s an issue best left to the states.
“This no fly, no buy nonsense, come on,” he said, “There’s no due process there. You don’t know if you’re on the list or not.”
Novak said solving “the core reasons of the violence, not taking away guns,” is what’s needed.
While they acknowledged climate change, the candidates had different views on its severity and how Congress should address it.
Pelto more aggressive action is needed on climate change.
“It’s the most significant and long-term threat to our world,” he said. “We need to engage every possible tool to reverse the effects,” including reversing subsidies for oil and natural gas and subsidizing alternatives like wind and solar.
Novak supports development of alternate forms of energy, but within the free enterprise system.
“I don’t think the government should be picking the winners and losers,” she said.
Courtney said increased fuel efficiency standards have worked.
“Automakers have embraced it and it’s been a success,” he said.
With the 2nd District home to submarine manufacturing giant Electric Boat, defense spending was a big issue for all candidates.
Courtney said the country needs to pivot more toward air and naval forces, and said EB has more work now with five submarines under construction than since the mid-1980s. Those contracts equate to about 12,000 jobs in the area, he said.
Pelto lauded that achievement but said defense industry needs to be converted to produce “products that add to our society rather than just weapons.”
Novak said the country needs to increase military spending for a “second Cold War period.”
“Our enemies have grown in strength, their militaries are modernizing,” she said.
Novak also said she wants across-the-board tax cuts “for everybody,” but didn’t fully explain how that would help fund increased defense spending.
“We’ll see a growth in the economy,” with the cuts that will cause people to spend more, she said. “It’s snowball in a positive manner.”
Education topics started off the debate at the college.
ECSU students submitted some of their own questions as part of the debate, including those focusing on college affordability and allowing undocumented immigrants to attend institutions of higher education.
Novak said the taxpayer shouldn’t be “on the hook for these student loans.”
She advocated a competitive, free-enterprise system to drive down costs.
Pelto called student debt one of the biggest barriers to middle-class prosperity.
“We have to do something, and there are a couple of things that can be done,” he said, including re-negotiating the terms of the debt.
“I can refinance my house or car, but I can’t re-finance my daughter’s debt. That’s absurd,” he said.
Courtney bemoaned the failure to update higher education laws.
“My refinancing bill is basically about refinancing debt,” he said. “We’ve got to get to the root of college affordability.”
Reale said “refinancing fraud” was at the root of college affordability issues.
“The first thing we have to do as a Congress is attack fraud,” he said. “Then we can start chipping away at the educational problem.”
Hartford Courant – Courtney Faces Three Challengers In 2nd District Debate – http://www.courant.com/politics/hc-joe-courtney-daria-novak-jonathan-pelto-debate-20161019-story.html
The mostly cordial first debate in the 2nd Congressional District race got personal when the topic of gun control came up, with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney‘s Republican opponent criticizing him for taking part in a Democratic-led House sit-in to push for votes on two gun control bills.
“I will never sit down on the job,” said Daria Novak. “Gun control doesn’t work. We’ve seen that across the country. … It is our right to bear arms.”
Courtney said the two proposals House Democrats were pushing for — expanding background checks to all gun sales and banning people on terror watch lists — were “perfectly constitutional.”
Two minor party candidates also participated in the debate, Daniel Reale of the Libertarian Party and Jonathan Pelto, the Green Party candidate. Courtney was first elected to the sprawling, 64-town district in Eastern Connecticut in 2006 and is heavily favored in his bid for a sixth term. Novak and Reale have both run unsuccessfully for the seat in the past. Pelto, a longtime Democrat and former state legislator, changed his party affiliation to run on the Green Party ticket.
On gun control, Reale said he had civil liberties concerns about imposing restrictions on the Second Amendment based on government watch lists.
“This no-fly, no-buy nonsense? Come on. There’s no due process here,” Reale said. “You can’t treat the constitution like a menu.”
Pelto and Reale both called for cuts to military spending, a topic of interest in the 2nd District, home to submarine manufacturer Electric Boat in Groton and Naval Submarine Base New London.
“We need to be talking about how to convert those defense industries to be [making] products that add to our society rather than simply weapons,” said Pelto.
Novak, on the other hand, said military spending had to be increased.
“If we look at the spending levels, we’re still spending as if we’re in a Cold War period,” she said. “I think that’s very dangerous for us.” Novak said that China, Russia, Japan and North Korea are “out not only to destroy this nation, but to destroy Western civilization.”
The debate was held at Eastern Connecticut State University and much of the early discussion focused on college affordability and federal education standards. Courtney was left largely on his own when it came to defending the federal Department of Education and President Barack Obama’s Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind.
Novak called the Department of Education “a total failure.” Reale said it had “failed miserably.” Pelto, who frequently opines about education reform on his blog, said the federal government had implemented a “test and punish” system. All three called for more local and state control of education policy.
But Courtney said there have to be federal standards.
“To say we’re going to randomly let kids succeed or fail based on where they live is really a prescription for failure,” he said.
The four candidates also offered varying plans to tackle student debt. Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, has called for wiping out $1.4 trillion in federal student loan debt by taxing Wall Street and cutting the military budget.
“Eliminating student debt by writing it off in the same way we’re writing off [the] debt of the banks when the banks are too big to fail,” Pelto said.
Reale and Courtney both agreed that student loan debt should be dischargeable in bankruptcy. Novak said federal student loans have become “a cash cow” for universities, which in turn have raised their prices. She called for a closer look at the operating costs of universities, putting a priority on more educators and fewer bureaucrats.
The candidates will debate again Tuesday night at Connecticut College in New London.