Sunday evening, Oct. 16, candidates for the California Congressional District 36 seat debated in Palm Desert. Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz, the incumbent, and challenger State Sen. Jeff Stone faced off in a debates sponsored by the Desert Sun and local Palm Springs television station KESQ.
Many questions were asked during the debate. The following are highlights of the candidates’ responses and comments.
Q. The national debt has sky rocketed how do you get control and would you ever vote for an increase in the debt ceiling?
Stone: No, I made a promise not to vote for debt ceiling increase, nor vote to approve a budget that doesn’t have a long term plan to get debt reduced within a 10 year period because [of] bankrupting our children and grandchildren. Incessant spending is a national security issue. It’s okay when interest rates are near zero.
Ruiz: Wow. American families are asked to pay their debt and government should pay what they owe. The idea that you would rather shut down the government and default on bills could create a harsh decay in our economy. We need to reduce deficit and reduce taxes.
Stone: That is the difference between us. I’m an entrepreneur and know a business can’t spend more money than it takes in. We need to meet our obligation for senior citizens and make sure they get Social Security and Medicare.
Q. Is there one element in the budget that is most under funded?
Stone: Military hardware and infrastructure. We need to be strong and re-invent the military. U.S. can’t police the world at expense of American people.
Ruiz: I have voted consistently for the military budget. Where I think we should focus more is expenditures for the veterans so they can see the doctors they need. The other thing is early childhood education, where we’ll make a long -term impact.
Q. The Affordable Care Act may hang in the balance. Congressman Ruiz you talked about improving it. How exactly would you do that?
Ruiz: I’ve said consistently as a player and prior to being in Congress, the ACA is a step in the right direction, but it’s imperfect. What we need to do with premiums going up because it’s out of control health care costs, we need to reduce health care costs. People are not able to see a physician as soon as they want because we have a physician shortage… I propose we build more medical schools and training program for communities that are underserved.
Stone: Government can’t do things better or cheaper than the private sector … We need to start over with a national health care plan.
Each candidate had the opportunity to ask the other a question.
Ruiz asked Stone, “He states he’s for civil unions, but why don’t you approve of gay marriage and don’t believe in marriage equality for LGBT community?”
Stone: On the floor of the State Senate, I stood up and supported sexual orientation to be a part of our Civil Rights Act of 1964. I did support Proposition 8. But it was basically on definition. The definition of marriage, I believe, is an institution between men and women. I support the same rights; call it marriage without calling it marriage, the same rights for same sex couples to love each other and be together and the same rights as a traditional married couple.
Ruiz: He doesn’t give dignity to the LBGT member to marry or form a union in marriage. That’s discriminatory.”
Stone asked Ruiz, “He voted to give Iran $150 billion … what do you say to families of gay, lesbian and transgender people who die from this regime?”
Ruiz: We’re going to go after Iran. They are not a friend of the U.S. Iran is not to be trusted. We’ll come down harsh on any human rights violator.
Ruiz argued that the biggest threat is Iran getting a nuclear bomb. The President’s proposal was the best option to eliminate Iran’s capacity to get nuclear bomb in the short term.
Stone replied that the deal would still allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb in 10 years.