Candidates for Wyoming’s three open seats in the U.S. Congress outlined their policies on the economy, energy, immigration and other issues Saturday at a forum organized by League of Women Voters.
Democrat Nick Carter, an attorney from Gillette, was able to attend, but his opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. John Barrasso, was still in Washington for the Senate’s session. Democrat Chris Rothfuss, who teaches at University of Wyoming, was there, though his opponent incumbent Republican, Sen. Mike Enzi, remained in Washington as well.
Democrat Gary Trauner of Wilson, who is running for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat, participated in the forum via conference call.
Republican Cynthia Lummis wrote a letter outlining her positions on key issues. The document was read by Wyoming Republican Party Chairwoman Diana Vaughan, who lives in the Jackson Hole.
On the economy, Trauner and Carter said they would have voted in favor of the government’s $700 billion bailout of the banking industry but did not think it was perfect.
Rothfuss said he would have voted against the Senate version. The final Senate version “lost emphasis on the economy,” he said.
“There was one option proposed, and it was proposed in a panic. If they had said, ‘We have options on the table; let’s discuss them for a week and then vote,’ I think it would have been fine.”
Lummis spoke against the bailout in her letter as well.
“I feel that if the government burdens the American taxpayer with the responsibility of nonperforming subprime loans, it will take a lifetime for working Americans to recover and may not fix the liquidity problems in the credit markets,” she wrote.
On immigration, both Trauner and Rothfuss said there needed to be stricter penalties for people who hire illegal immigrants and easier programs to issue temporary work visas.
Carter said he supported the comprehensive immigration bill proposed by President Bush and Sen. John McCain last year.
“A guest worker program as proposed by McCain and the Bush administration could be workable,” he said. “Finally, we have to try to bring illegal workers out of the woodwork, and the only way to do it is with a path to citizenship.”
On energy, Carter said that the country needed a comprehensive plan to get off foreign oil in 10 to 15 years, similar to the one proposed by T. Boone Pickens. Carter also said places such as the Wyoming Range should not be put off limits to drilling but should be protected by pursuing alternative energy sources.
Rothfuss said he favored a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions that would give companies an allotment of carbon they could emit and any reductions to their emissions could be traded on the open market.
Trauner proposed a package of increased drilling, cleaner burning coal technology, tax credits for alternative energy, conservation, and regulation of the energy futures market.
He said much of the hysteria surrounding energy and the widely fluctuating prices result from a lack of confidence in U.S. energy policy.
“If the market thinks we actually have a long-term plan, the price will come down,” he said.
Lummis proposed a similar plan in her letter.
“I call my plan the ‘all of the above plan,’ meaning drill in the Arctic and off our shores, work on clean coal, natural gas, solar, wind and nuclear,” she wrote.