BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
WEST BOUNTIFUL — Critical changes need to be made to keep the belief that America is an exceptional country alive, Second Congressional District candidate Chris Stewart told the Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club.
Stewart will face Democrat Jay Seegmiler in the 2012 election in Utah’s realigned second district.
At the top of Stewart’s agenda is slashing the federal deficit.
“Of every dollar spent by the federal government, about forty cents are borrowed,” he said. “This clearly would not be economically sound for a household, and it is not economically sound for our nation. We have witnessed the downgrade of our credit rating, and if we do not control spending, we will witness further economic hardship.”
As part of his plan to reduce the federal deficit, Stewart supports ratifying a Balanced Budget Amendment and enacting real entitlement reform.
“Getting the federal deficit under control is going to take work from both sides of the aisle,” he said. “Government spending is out of control. Part of the problem lies in entitlements, which already consume 66 percent of our federal spending. I have a plan to reform Social Security and Medicare to save the systems in a cost-efficient manner while protecting those who rely on the programs.”
The president and CEO of a small business, Stewart served 14 years as a pilot in the Air Force, flying both rescue helicopters and the B1B bomber.
“Small business is the heart of the U.S. economy, creating roughly 65-percent of jobs over the past 20 years. Yet, government regulations make it nearly impossible for small businesses to thrive,” he said. “As a small business owner, I know what conditions are necessary for small businesses to flourish. That involves getting government out of the way.”
Stewart said his plans include controlling and eliminating hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations that have never received the direct blessing of either voters or Congress but were instead put into place by what he called disconnected Washington bureaucrats.
Stewart supports permanent reductions in business taxes. He also supports simplifying the personal tax code by creating a new code consisting of just three rates for federal income tax: 10 percent, 15 percent and 25 percent.
“Taxes are simply too complicated. Even the head of the IRS has someone do his taxes for him,” Stewart told the breakfast club. “My proposal would give Americans the option to choose a system that would literally allow them to file their taxes on the back of a post card. Few things would invigorate our economy like tax simplification would.”
People should be proud of their own nations, Stewart told the club.
“I hope they feel a duty to the places they were born,” he said. “But, there is something different about this country, something exceptional, something powerful.”
BY JENNIFFER WARDELL
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — The less we argue, the more work we can get done.
That’s the message of Jay Seegmiller, democratic candidate for Utah’s Second Congressional District. Seegmiller, who is running against republican Chris Stewart for Jim Matheson’s old seat, wants to focus less on partisan politics and more on accomplishing things such as job creation.
“I’m somebody who listens to all sides,” said Seegmiller, who spoke recently to the Bountiful Rotary. “I’m very independent, and I don’t walk any party line.”
Seegmiller, who served in the Utah State Legislature from 2009-2011, has also spent the last several years working as a train conductor for Amtrak.
He remembered one train passenger who was furious at the mother and unruly children sitting across from him. He later helped the mother out after learning that her husband had recently died, leaving her feeling overwhelmed.
“I think that’s our problem today,” he said. “We’re so busy yelling across the aisle that we don’t listen and find out what we have in common. That’s what we should be building from.”
Since the re-organization that created the state’s new fourth district seat, Utah’s Second Congressional District cuts a wide swath across the western half of the state.
In Davis County it includes everything from North Salt Lake to most of Farmington, but it also stretches down to include most of the southern half of the state.
“It’s got some of the most urban part of the state, but it also has a lot of the most rural,” said Seegmiller. “It’ll be an interesting district to represent.”
One of the main ways he hopes to represent his district is job creation. Seegmiller already has ideas for lowering unemployment, including offering incentive tax credits designed to persuade U.S. companies to bring their manufacturing back to the U.S.
“A lot of companies moved their production to other countries, but now they’re finding out it’s not working quite as well as they hoped,” said Seegmiller, discussing issues such as quality control and shipping. “Bringing them back to the U.S. would bolster the economy without using tax dollars.”
He’s always looking for input from other people, however. According to Seegmiller, every bill he presented during his time with the Utah Legislature was inspired by an idea from someone else. Even if those ideas come in the form of argument, he appreciates them.
“One of the most frustrating things is that most bills pass with very little debate,” he said. “If there was more debate, I think we’d get more high-quality legislation.”
Some of that legislation might even be strong enough to solve the major problems facing the country.
“Social Security was never intended to be a retirement program,” he said. “It was intended as a safety net, but it’s evolved into something more than that. The question is, how do you solve that?
“I don’t know, but I’m interested in listening to ideas.”