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Spending key issue for 9th District candidates

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Seven Hoosiers running for Congress are all concerned about the nation’s spending but have different ideas for how to control it.

Next month, voters will choose one Democratic candidate and one Republican candidate, who will square off in the November election to represent Indiana’s 9th District in the House of Representatives. That seat, which is up for election every two years, represents Johnson County and counties south to the Ohio River. Bloomington, Seymour and Clarksville are part of the district.

Democratic voters will have four candidates to choose from in the primary, while Republican voters will have three. Here are their takes on the most significant issues facing the nation and the district.

The Republicans

Candidates Mark G. Jones, Kathy Lowe-Heil and incumbent Todd Young all want to ensure the nation isn’t spending more money than it has to cover its expenses.

Young, who was first elected to the House in 2010, believes simplifying the tax code will help stimulate the economy, as it will give people more opportunities to invest in products where demand is growing. He said he also wants to simplify the personal tax code used by most small businesses, which are losing profit after they pay federal, state and local taxes.

Young said he wants to help individuals and businesses he feels are being unfairly impacted by the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, he wants to see the mandate for individuals to obtain health insurance delayed until businesses also are required to provide coverage to their workers. He wants to pass a law specifying that a full-time workweek is 40 hours, not 30 hours.

Jones also said passing the Affordable Care Act costs too much because of its expenses for individuals and businesses and its mandates. He is the son of an investment banker and believes he has the principles needed to ensure the country isn’t spending more money than it’s generating.

“I’m a responsible, conservative individual who believes in the Constitution,” he said.

Lowe-Heil is worried that lawmakers in Congress aren’t conservative enough, and she believes that too much borrowing and spending are destroying the freedom of U.S. citizens. Lowe-Heil, who has worked jobs in the health care and restaurant industry, said she lives within the budget she sets for herself and wants to ensure the U.S. government does the same.

“I have the ability to say ‘no,’” she said. “The Founding Fathers never intended lawyers and such to be the representatives of the people.”

The Democrats

Candidates Jeff Miller, James R. McClure Jr., Bill Bailey and William Joseph “Billy” Thomas have different ideas on stopping what they consider reckless spending in Washington and to continue to rebuild Indiana’s economy.

Miller is concerned about the number of U.S. residents who are retired or who are about to retire and are collecting Social Security and other benefits, compared with the number of people who are working and currently paying into those programs.

He said that the programs eventually will run out of money as right now there are more people drawing money than paying into them. Lawmakers need to find a way to better control medical costs and to find new ways to fund those programs without eliminating them, he said.

“We really need to look at ways to control medical costs and build infrastructure while guaranteeing the seniors, retired people and veterans receive the care that they’ve paid for pretty much their entire lives,” he said.

Miller also wants to spearhead campaign finance reform, ensuring that citizens and not businesses or corporations are funding campaigns.

To stimulate the economy, Bailey wants to give college students and their parents more opportunities to deduct expenses such as computers from their taxes, as a way to make college more affordable for students and their families. Bailey also wants to find ways to make the Affordable Care Act better without ending it entirely.

Bailey, who had no health insurance for five years, said he knows how scary it is not to have insurance. He added he knows that some residents have had their hours cut so that their employers don’t have to offer health benefits, and lawmakers need to find a way to ensure those people can find health care and pay their bills.

Thomas worries the country’s deficit is growing out of control, far beyond the point the Founding Fathers intended. One way to manage that includes raising the nation’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Increasing the minimum wage will generate additional revenue as people will pay taxes on their increased earnings, and that additional payment can help curb the national debt, he said.

McClure, who considers out-of-control spending to be the greatest problem the government is facing, would solve the problem by working to eliminate departments he considers unnecessary, such as the U.S. Department of Education. The individual states, he said, can do a much more efficient job of educating students.

About the job

Annual salary: $174,000

Term: Two years

Duties: Attend legislative session meetings, vote on and propose measures to the House of Representatives

9th District: Represents all of Johnson County and areas of the state south to the Ohio River, including the cities of Bloomington, Martinsville, Seymour, Bedford and Clarksville

About the candidates

Bill Bailey

Party: Democrat

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English and speech from Murray State University

Occupation: Retired; was president of the Seymour Chamber of Commerce for 14 years

Family: Wife, Lisa; daughter; stepson; two grandchildren

Political experience: Member of the Seymour City Council from 1976-80; mayor of Seymour from 1983-90; served in the Indiana House of Representatives from 1990-2000

Mark Jones

Party: Republican

Education: Graduate of Southport High School

Occupation: Worked as a general contractor and homebuilder for 35 years

Family: Widower; two children

Political experience: None

James McClure Jr.

Party: Democrat

Education: Associate’s degree from Air Force Community College

Occupation: IT analyst

Family: Wife, Theresa; four children

Political experience: None

Jeff Miller

Party: Democrat

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Indiana University in Bloomington; master’s degree from Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Occupation: Has worked for legislative relations for the student body at IU; worked with legislative services agency at the Statehouse; was a homebound teacher

Family: Single; two children

Political experience: None

William Joseph ‘Billy’ Thomas

Party: Democrat

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University Southeast; master’s in biblical studies; has a doctorate in pastoral ministry

Occupation: Has worked for a major corporation, which he will not disclose, for 30 years as a union member and in management

Family: Wife, Beth; five children

Political experience: None

Todd Young

Party: Republican

Educational background: Bachelor’s degree in political science from U.S. Naval Academy; master’s degree in business from the University of Chicago; master’s degree in American politics from the University of London; doctorate in law from Indiana University

Family: Wife, Jenny; four children

Work history: U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps; legislative aide in the U.S. Senate; management consultant; attorney

Political experience: First ran for Congress in 2010; was re-elected in 2012

Kathy Lowe-Heil

Party: Republican

Educational background: Graduated from New Albany High School

Career: Has worked in management at Cracker Barrel; has also worked in a hospital’s intensive care unit

Family: Husband, John; two children; two grandchildren

Political experience: None

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