IBJ asked U.S. Reps. Todd Young and Marlin Stutzman where they stand on key economic issues. Here are seven things to know about their positions, and how they’re setting themselves apart in the Republican primary race.
1. Neither candidate has made up his mind on whether he’ll support the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between the United States, Japan and other Pacific Rim nations. But both say they are inclined to support it.
Todd Young: “Often, the benefits are oversold and the costs are exaggerated. Conceptually, I think free trade is a good idea. I find intriguing this notion that we could increase our economic and security ties to countries before we are outflanked by the Chinese. One glaring concern I have pertains to intellectual property protection of … our pharmaceutical industry.”
Marlin Stutzman: “There’s a lot of opportunity in the TPP as far as agriculture and other [sectors], but my concern is over environmental policy. There’s a deep frustration right now that we are giving over a lot of our competitive advantages to other countries. I do think we need to take a deep breath here and make sure we understand the evolving economy that we have in technology and logistics in a variety of industries, and make sure we’re not putting ourselves at a disadvantage.”
2. Politicians in Indiana and nationwide are celebrating low unemployment rates, but there’s also concern about the need to engage more people in the workforce. Marlin Stutzman says part of the blame falls on the high number of Americans receiving nutrition assistance, once called food stamps. Young says the problem is the tax code.
Stutzman: “There’s people who don’t want to work. Some of that’s being incentivized by government payouts. We have to look at the welfare system. We have 45 million Americans on food stamps. That’s a number that I think is way too high. Handing out more government welfare is not the answer. There’s opportunities out there. [Companies] can’t find enough workers that are willing to show up on time and pass a drug test.”
Young: “We need to reform our tax code, simplify it, and stop picking winners and losers through the tax code. When you survey small businesses, the hidden costs of regulations are a greater burden than the taxes themselves.”
3. Stutzman blames Federal Reserve policy as the reason wages haven’t risen significantly since the end of the Great Recession.
Stutzman: “The federal debt, I think, holds our economy back. I think our Federal Reserve policies have affected wages. The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate, where they are to focus on strong monetary policy and low unemployment rates. If the Fed only focused on keeping our monetary system strong, then the unemployment rates will take care of themselves. Ben Bernanke would argue [their policies] worked, that the recession could have been a lot worse. But I’ll argue the recovery has been slow.”
4. Meanwhile, Young says government regulation is holding back the economy. He touts the REINS Act, which he championed, as a way to combat unnecessary regulation. The act would require the House and Senate to vote on major regulations that carry with them a financial impact of at least $100 million.
Young: If we “leave it up to unelected unaccountable government workers to fill in all the blanks, who’s really making the laws then? It’s bureaucrats. Congress needs to, on the front end, tackle the hard decisions and be held to account by the voters in the end.”
5. Stutzman says Young’s ballot scare and subsequent challenge is the result of bad leadership.
Stutzman: “He barely got enough signatures to get on the ballot. It shows the inexperience of managing and understanding what’s expected in running a campaign or a business or serving as a U.S. senator. Those are differences that are really important. You need to go above and beyond.”
6. Young says Stutzman is a “rhetorical conservative.”
Young: “I happen to believe that, in order to effect change, sometimes you have to settle for a 50-yard pass as opposed to making it all the way down the proverbial football field in one play. I’ve been willing to incrementally advance the conservative cause. Concrete solutions to pressing problems … [are what] allows me to run on my record as opposed to running as a rhetorical conservative.”
7. The candidates say their different backgrounds set them apart.
Stutzman: “I’m a business owner. Todd has never been a business owner. Small business is the backbone of our country. Todd’s experience in business comes out of a textbook and what he’s been told by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I think there’s a big difference and that experience matters.
Young: “We’re both conservatives. I spent a decade in the military. I think that is a unique skill set in biographical experience that will help me keep Americans safe and secure.”