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Tobias Schlingensiepen, candidate for Congress, chats on LJWorld.com

October 26, 2012

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Moderator:

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to our online chat with Tobias Schlingensiepen, the Democratic candidate in the race for the 2nd Congressional District. I'm Alex Parker, the Journal-World's digital editor, and I'll be moderating today's chat. We have invited Tobias' opponent, U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, to chat at a date in the future.

Tobias, thank you for joining us today. Why don't you start off by telling us a bit about yourself and why you're running.

kuguardgrl13:

The second district is home to several colleges and universities including the University of Kansas. Recently, Congressman Yoder has introduced an act that would allow research done at KU and other public universities to be available to the public at no cost. If elected, would you support that act? What would you do to bring research opportunities and other opportunities to the second district and Kansas?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

Thanks so much for having me here today. It's great to have a chance to chat with you. I'm a community leader and pastor in Topeka, and I'm in this race to bring jobs to the 2nd District, to find real, practical solutions to the national debt and to end deficit spending and fiscal recklessness. But we can't do that until we change the way Washington works.

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

This sounds like a good idea, but the devil is always in the details, and I'd have to look at the bill itself. The research done by KU and the other universities in the 2nd District is absolutely vital to bringing jobs and growing the economy. Supporting research is very important to me.

frogeyedan:

Is there any chance of reducing the subsidies going to oil industries and use the savings to support crop subsidies for family farmers during this drought, and do you see ways to work past the obstacles that have prevented a farm bill from being passed?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

That's a good question. There is no question that giving subsidies to big oil companies making record profits year after year is ridiculous, especially in light of the fact that the wind energy tax credit is scheduled to expire on January 1. We must support the family farmer. The Senate passed a bipartisan farm bill, which Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and her colleagues in the House failed the vote on. Instead they bottled up their own bill in committee, so they wouldn't have to defend it during the campaign. We have to do better than that. We have left farmers during the worst drought since 1956 in the lurch. This kind of Washington thing has got to stop.

moderationman:

What do you see as the main differences between you and your opponent regarding the economy and health care?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

When it comes to economics my opponent has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the big banks and insurance companies, and consistently voted with their interests and against you. She has done their bidding, like voting against a consumer financial protection agency that has already order two of her donors to pay $322.5 million in fines and reimbursements for misleading consumers. When the big banks were bailed out by the taxpayers, they turned around and gave large bonuses to their executives, and my opponent voted against disclosing the amounts of those bonuses. We need common sense regulation that protects consumers against the kind of financial recklessness that the big banks have engaged in. More in a second...

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

My top priority is creating jobs in the 2nd District, and my opponent seems to be focused on creating tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans. She has twice voted for the Ryan Budget that would give breaks to the wealthiest and hurt the middle class and the poor. When it comes to job creation, I would like to see different groups from the private sector and not-for profit and public sector come together in the 2nd District to discuss job creation opportunities. I also want to end the tax benefits wealthy corporations get for shipping jobs overseas and make measured, appropriate investments in infrastructure, including education, which we must do if we're going to be competitive in a 21st Century market. On healthcare in a second...

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

Briefly on healthcare... My opponent supports turning Medicare into Vouchercare, which would cost seniors an average of $6,000 more a year out of their own pockets. I will protect Medicare. I will also seek to focus on reducing the rise of healthcare costs, and making certain people are not discriminated against for preexisting conditions, that their children can stay on their parents' policies until they are 26 and that lifetime benefit caps are lifted. My opponent has proposed a healthcare plan that the Congressional Budget Office has said won't provide health insurance for more people. In other words, it just won't work.

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

Thanks for your patience. Next question?

kuguardgrl13:

Congresswoman Jenkins has said that she does not support tax breaks for alternative energy sources, even though they bring jobs in wind energy and other forms. If elected, what will you do to support alternative energy development in the second district and Kansas?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

During the Dole Institute debate, she said the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, and yet we have been giving subsidies to big oil for over a century now. In Hutchinson, roughly half the employees at the Siemens wind turbine plant, about 150 people, are going to lose their jobs if the wind energy credit expires in January. I think it is important that that not happen. Kansas has an opportunity to become a wind energy leader, and I will do everything I can to make sure that we support wind energy in the future. One of the problems we face is that government likes giving subsidies to big companies doing the same old thing over and over again. I have met entrepreneurs in the 2nd District with excellent ideas about developing alternative energy sources, but their applications for Department of Energy grants are regularly turned down. We have to do better than that.

Moderator:

We had a rather long question from a reader that I'll distill here: Many members of Congress are rubber stamps for their party, contributing to gridlock in Congress. With so much division in Congress, will you attempt to work across the aisle with Republicans?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

Absolutely, I will try! I will start with something as simple as meeting on a weekly basis with other members of the Kansas delegation to discuss issues important to the state. I think that no party has a monopoly on good ideas. For example, I'm supporting a proposal by former Republican Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma to limit the power of committee chairs in an effort to lower the partisan bickering. I think the partisan bickering has to stop, and we need to start looking at problems and seeking to find real solutions to them. My opponent has voted with her party leadership 96 percent of the time.

fred_mertz:

If you are elected will you vote for funding military action/wars when Congress has not issued a declaration of war? Or do you support the President being able to wage war at his/her own discrection?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

Congress has a fundamental responsibility to declare war, and I take that responsibility seriously.

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

However, we should remember there is a difference between declaring on another nation and the highly mobile threat of terror cells. We must be flexible to deal with the latter.

Moderator:

Tobias, you're a pastor. Can you tell our readers how your faith has colored your worldview, and how it might influence your decision-making in Congress?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

First of all, I believe in the separation of church and state, and I will serve in the tradition of other ministers who have become public servants like former senator Jack Danforth of Missouri and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver. Service to others is particularly to my faith tradition as is a commitment to the truth, freedom and justice.

CrumpD:

What are you going to do to help veterans and their families in this area? There are Pharmacies who reject Tricare, Doctors are slim to none, our kids are forgotten in the school system, especially during deployment times. How are you going to help change this and how long honestly will it take to make it happen?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

Oops.. made a typo in my last answer. I meant to say that service to others is particularly IMPORTANT to my faith tradition, as is a commitment to truth, freedom and justice. OK onto the next question..

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

First of all, my father was a VA doctor. We have an obligation to our men and women in uniform and to our veterans. I am committed to standing at their side. We must protect veterans and their families from cuts to benefits and healthcare. I agree that as a society we have too little understanding of the effects of deployment on military families and do too little to help. It is important that we that we do a better job of educating ourselves about those challenges, especially in classrooms. But I'm afraid I may not have answered your question yet. If elected, I will make certain that my office responds to you and other constituents who need help. Tricare shouldn't be rejected, and other problems should be solved. We also need to make certain that the law solves the problems you mentioned. I can't say how long it will take to solve your problems, but I can promise that if I'm elected, I'll listen to you, and I'll make certain my staff does everything it can to solve your problems.

Moderator:

Tobias, your major platform is to bring more jobs to this district. With Kansas and Missouri engaged in an economic border skirmish, we see companies moving across the state line often. What kind of jobs do you hope to bring to this area, and how will you do it?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

I don't think the current policy of racing to the bottom to take money out of our schools by slashing taxes for the wealthiest is a solution. Education has taken serious cuts in this state, and as we know, good schools is one of the most important criteria for companies choosing to locate to a state. We need to create good paying jobs in the District, which has a dense educational infrastructure of various kinds of colleges, universities and vocational-technical schools. I would like to see more public-private cooperation around job incubation, and the creation of high-tech jobs and jobs in the biosciences, for example.

fred_mertz:

Is there any policy or action taken by President Obama with which you disagree and why?

Tobias Schlingensiepen:

I disagree with the president on many policies, but the first one that comes to mind is that even if his healthcare plan stays in place it will still leave nearly 30 million Americans without health insurance. That will mean that those with health insurance will continue to foot the bill through higher premiums. Thank you for all the questions. Unfortunately, our time is up. For more information, check out www.tobiasforcongress.com.

Moderator:

OK, that's all we have time for today. Readers, thank you for all your good questions, and Tobias, thank you for taking the time our of your busy schedule to chat with us. We appreciate your time.

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