6th District candidates spar over entitlements

October 24, 2014

   
In this file photo provided by his campaign is Libertarian Gus Fahrendorf. Fahrendorf, a small business owner, faces Democratic Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris and Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman on the Nov. 4 ballot for the open U.S. House seat in Wisconsin's District 6.

MANITOWOC The candidates for Wisconsin's lone open congressional seat have sharply different views on the programs some Americans rely on for food, medical care and living expenses.

Democrat Mark Harris and Republican Glenn Grothman are vying for the 6th Congressional District seat. Each has made so-called entitlement programs a focus of his campaign. Both oppose the concept of changing people's Social Security benefits based on their incomes, but the things they agree on essentially end there, HTR Media (http://htrne.ws/1D1yMJV ) reported.

Harris wants to continue funding programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) because he believes they help Americans in times of need.

"My impression is most people don't rely on these for a long time and no one aspires to be poor," he said. "In the free market economy, people fall through the cracks; the social safety net is there to help prevent crisis."

Medicare and Medicaid can operate more efficiently than private insurance, according to Harris, but politicians should strive to find ways to control the cost of the programs.

In this file photo provided by his campaign is Republican Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman. Grothman faces Libertarian Gus Fahrendorf, a small business owner, and Democratic Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris on the Nov. 4 ballot for the open U.S. House seat in District 6.

Grothman thinks taxes should not be raised on anyone. He believes many of the entitlement programs should be better regulated and less dependent on taxpayers.

"The growth in federal welfare programs is unsustainable and is driving down the work ethic of Americans," he said.

Grothman thinks buying junk food with SNAP funds should be prohibited because the "government eventually pays the price for health problems associated with eating and drinking these unhealthy foods." Most voters he speaks to agree with him on this issue, he said.

In this file photo provided by his campaign is Democratic Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris. Harris faces Republican Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman and Libertarian Gus Fahrendorf, a small business owner, on the Nov. 4 ballot for the open U.S. House seat in Wisconsin's District 6.

Harris said the campaign rhetoric coming from Grothman indicates he supports cutting programs that are critical for low-income families and seniors. Harris said he would back the removal of junk food items from SNAP if it was replaced with the addition of toiletries and other personal care products.

"Most people receiving food share work, but don't earn enough to make ends meet," Harris said. "Or they're low-wage workers. Or widowed seniors . I'd take away junk food, but add basic care items."

Although he didn't comment on Medicare, Grothman said Medicaid should be less bureaucratic and more market-based.

Harris is currently the Winnebago County executive, while Grothman is a state senator. Both are seeking to fill the seat that will be left vacant by U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, a Republican from Fond du Lac.

The 6th Congressional District stretches from Adams County east to Lake Michigan and from Neenah south to Watertown.

 

Associated Press