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Barber and McSally debate economy, education and healthcare at campus forum

Jordin+OConnor+%2F++Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0ARon+Barber+and+Martha+McSally+debate+on+Oct.+23%2C+in+the+Grand+Ballroom+of+the+SUMC.
Jordin O’Connor
Jordin O’Connor / Arizona Daily Wildcat Ron Barber and Martha McSally debate on Oct. 23, in the Grand Ballroom of the SUMC.

Arizona’s economy, education and health care were among the issues that Rep. Ron Barber and Martha McSally discussed at the Congressional District 2 forum on Tuesday night in the Student Union Memorial Center’s Grand Ballroom.

Few students attended the forum, though many seats were filled with members from the Tucson community.

“It would have been nice to see more students out here since they came to our campus,” said Sam Burns, a business management senior. “It’s pretty hard to avoid it and there was very few students here.”

The issues of education and the economy in Arizona went hand-in-hand during the forum, with both candidates emphasizing the need for students to be able to afford higher education as well as to find jobs after graduating. The candidates differed in their views about how to create jobs.

McSally said taxes and mandates on business owners were not the solution to fixing the economy. Business owners will not be able to hire more people if their taxes are raised, she added. Barber, on the other hand, said millionaires need to step up and do their part to help the economy.

When asked about affordable education, Barber referred to McSally’s previous statements in support of the Ryan budget, which would cut $3 billion of taxes from education, according to Barber. Barber also quoted McSally as having said that the federal government should stay out of education’s business.

“It’s really hard to keep up, Martha, with the back and forth positions that you’ve had,” Barber said. “One day you say one thing, the next day you say another.”

In response to Barber’s accusations, McSally explained that her statement referred to primary education and to the federal government’s attempt to tell teachers what to do and how to teach.
“I am passionate about education and I promise you when I get [to Washignton] I’m going to fight to make sure education is affordable and available and we have the best education in the world,” McSally said.

The candidates also addressed the issue of health care throughout the forum. McSally said she wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act due to its cutting the budget for Medicare.

She also stressed that health care should be left in the hands of the private sector and that people should be given incentives to buy affordable health care, rather than be forced to do so. The Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable, she added.

“I believe fundamentally, and I know we can all agree, that patients, their families and doctors need to be the people that are making health care decisions,” McSally said.

Barber’s response was that while the Affordable Care Act was not perfect, he would push for the proper corrections to be made and for the bill to go into effect. Barber emphasized that the act would allow students to remain on their parent’s health insurance through college. People with pre-existing conditions would also benefit from the act, as health insurance providers would no longer be able to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

“The Affordable Care Act has done a lot, but it’s far from perfect,” Barber said. “We absolutely need to make changes in it, but not from pre-existing conditions. Not that segment.”

McSally also said she was disappointed that Barber distorted her views and positions.

“He’s shown an amazing ability to become a Washington politician in a very short period of time,” McSally said. “When I go to D.C., I’m going to fight and I’m going to stand for the people of Southern Arizona and I’m not going to become one of them.”

Barber emphasized the importance of consistency in order to gain the community’s trust and reliance. He believes his involvement in the community since 1959, his experiences and his consistent stances on issues will help him in the election.

“I believe that the people of this district will see a clear difference between us,” Barber said. “Not someone who is going to change their position depending upon the audience they’re in front of, but someone who is going to be consistent, that they can rely on.”

The forum was hosted by Arizona Public Media, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the Arizona Students’ Association. Katy Murray, the president of ASUA and a marketing senior, Jim Nintzel, a reporter from the Tucson Weekly, and Andrea Kelly, a public affairs reporter for Arizona Public Media, questioned the candidates.

Christopher Conover, a producer for Arizona Public Media, moderated the forum.

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