Newcomer Wonnacott and incumbent Chaffetz debate Common Core, global warming at UVU

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Tiffany Frandsen | News Editor | @tiffany_mf


United States House Congressional district 3 candidates Jason Chaffetz (R) and Brian Wonnacott (D) sparred over Common Core and global warming at the Utah Debate Commission-hosted debate at Utah Valley University on October 7.

Chaffetz, the incumbent, is running on a platform of “fiscal discipline, limited government, accountability and strong national defense.”

Wonnacott, a first-time candidate, is reserved, shy and joined with the Utah Democratic Party in March when they did not have a candidate to oppose Chaffetz.

Scroll through for viewpoints on each topic addressed.

Global Warming | Should legislation be passed to reduce greenhouse gases?

Wonnacott brought up the energy crisis of the 70s and said the efforts should be picked back up to encourage energy efficiency and research alternative fuel sources.

“I believe that the Al Gore-defined global warming is a farce,” said Chaffetz. “Is our air and is our quality of life affected by what we throw into the air and water? Yes, of course.”

He said the US should pursue cleaner, alternative sources for energy independence.

Moderator David Magleby said that the scientific community agrees that there is a problem and asked both candidates how much confidence they had in those scientists. Chaffetz reaffirmed that he did not believe that the science is conclusive while Wonnacott supported the scientists’ findings.

College | Should legislation make college more affordable?

Chaffetz said the problem is caused by student loans being federally held; it eliminates competition between universities to keep tuition low. He thinks the federal government should leave the decisions to the local level.

“It’s how I feel about public education. There shouldn’t even be a federal department of education. We don’t need Common Core. We can figure this out in Utah,” said Chaffetz.

Wonnacott said that education is essential and everyone should have the opportunity to get a degree. Common Core was created by a coalition of governors, he said, not the federal government.

“There is no mandate from the federal government. It is not tied to any fees from the federal government,” said Wonnacott. “It’s not a federal program.”

*Fact check: While schools do not directly receive funding or loss of funding by implementing common core, they receive points in the Race to the Top program for implementing (40 out of 500), and grants are awarded based on the point system. It is not federally mandated.

Veteran Affairs | What can be done to help veterans, and should more funding be appropriated to VA hospitals?

Wonnacott approved of more funding for and more oversight of the VA. Chaffetz said veterans should be able to access healthcare outside of the VA.

Secret Service | In light of the recent White House breach, what is the most pressing security issue?

Wonnacott defended the Secret Service, called the team courageous and said Chaffetz would have complained against them regardless of how they handled the intruder.

Chaffetz said that no incursions should be tolerated, and he supports their use of force against intruders. He is the chairman of the subcommittee of the National Security and Oversight Committee, and called for reform of the Secret Service’s training, culture, leadership and protocol.

Corporate Tax | How should congress reform taxes to decrease the burden on corporations?

The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the world*, said Chaffetz. Reform needs to bring the rate down to 25% and eliminate double taxation to bring dollars back into the country.

Both candidates agreed that companies need incentives to stay or come back to the U.S. Wonnacott added that companies should change their philosophies.

*Fact check: The U.S. statutory corporate tax rate in 2013 was 39.1%. The next highest was Japan, at 37%.

Guns | Should teachers carry guns in school, and should parents know which teachers carry?

Wonnacott respects the right to carry, but doesn’t encourage any to bring a gun into a classroom because of the risk of it falling into the wrong hands.

Chaffetz said not every teacher should own a gun; that should be decided individually. Parents should be told which teachers carry. Gun rights should be limited in regards to those with questionable mental health.

China | Given the Hong Kong student protest, how should the U.S. proceed with Chinese relations?

Chaffetz supports Obama’s current approach to China, but claims that Obama has lost credibility when the U.S. display strong leadership. Wonnacott agreed, and expressed support for the students.

Marketplace Fairness Act? | Should consumers pay sales tax on goods purchased from online retailers?

Chaffetz agrees with having a Marketplace Fairness Act, but not the one currently in existence. Ultimately, the decision should be made by Utah, not the federal government. Wonnacott agreed.

Obama Lawsuit | Was the lawsuit a wise use of time and resources instead of impeachment?

Chaffetz defended the decision to sue Obama. He would not impeach, but said Americans should worry about the President’s actions. He expressed disappointment in past presidents’ executive actions. Wonnacott called the lawsuit counterproductive and a waste of time.

Recession | How would another recession be prevented?

Wonnacott said that the housing bubble is in the past, and that there are other areas of economic concern. Chaffetz called for transparency and an audit of the Federal Reserve.

Ebola | What can the U.S. do to secure its borders against the virus, and how much should be spent? What can the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Homeland Security do?

Limiting travel, increasing screening at airports and expanding education about transmission, Chaffetz said, would prevent spread of the outbreak.

Wonnacott does not believe it’s a border problem, and said the real border problem is with immigration. He called for immigration reform, but didn’t think increasing border security would solve the problem. He added that the CDC can address the problem “when it gets here.”

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