Where 9th District Republican runoff candidates stand on the issues
Two Republicans have emerged from a crowded primary and will face off in a runoff election.
Gun store owner Andrew Clyde and state Rep. Matt Gurtler are seeking to fill the office U.S. Rep. Doug Collins is leaving to challenge U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent questions to the candidates about five key issues. Here are the responses:
South Jackson County
A Navy veteran and owner of a firearms business. The Internal Revenue Service seized almost $950,000 in a civil asset forfeiture procedure. He eventually won his case. He calls for dismantling the IRS.
A general contractor and state Representative, Gurtler has served two terms in the House. He voted “no” 40% of the time in his first term, more than any other state legislator.
1. Do you support dismantling the Affordable Care Act? If so, what would you replace it with?
Clyde: I fully support repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. We must exchange Obamacare for free-market principles that will work to decrease health care costs and premiums. To give you an example, in my small business we have provided 100% company-funded health care for employees since 2007. In 2008, before Obama was elected, I was paying $92 a month for a very good health care plan with a very low deductible per employee. The average annual increase was between 4% and 6%. This was still above the rate of inflation, but it was manageable. Now, 11 years later I am paying just over $500 per employee and the plan is similar but not quite as good. At a 5% annual increase (still above inflation) my cost per employee should be $173.00 for 2020, but I am paying three times that amount and it has become unbearable.
Gurtler: We must repeal Obamacare and all other interventions in the free market. When the government took control of one-sixth of the economy the consequences were predictable, higher prices and lower quality. Allowing innovation and competition, unfettered by government bureaucrats and politicians with a dangerous socialist agenda, is how we will fix our broken health care system. This is a classic example of government creating a problem and pretending to offer a solution to the same problem. Insurance must be allowed to cross state lines, and regulations must be cut. Doctors and nurses shouldn’t have to spend all their time on paperwork. The (Food and Drug Administration) has to stop it’s detrimental overcontrol of medical innovation. Special interests need to get out of the way of the patient/medical work relationship.
2. What should Congress do, if anything, to address concerns about climate change?
Clyde: It is not the federal government’s responsibility to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, or any aspect of our environment for that matter. The (Environmental Protection Agency) is an unconstitutional agency and should be dissolved. Climate change is fake news.
Gurtler: The federal government has a terrible track record when it comes to accountability and damage done to our beautiful mountains, lakes and rivers. States, local communities, conservative conservation groups and private landowners have a vested interest in maintaining our natural resources and are far better equipped to do so. Congress will do more harm than good, as it usually does, and the people, as well as our land, will be much better off applying the principles of a free market alongside personal responsibility.
3. Does Georgia have an illegal immigration problem and, if so, what should be done to fix it?
Clyde: Our country has an illegal immigration problem, not just Georgia. We need to protect our southern border by building a 30-foot wall along the border. As a Navy officer, I understand the national security risk that an open border creates. Additionally, we must stop demonizing (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers. We need to give them encouragement and praise for how they protect our country.
Gurtler: One of the biggest problems we face in terms of immigration is politicians not understanding that you can’t have an expansive welfare state and weak border security at the same time. We need strong border security. States that have sanctuary cities and loose voting laws must be completely defunded as they put our rule of law and Constitution at risk.
4. Are you in favor of additional criminal justice reforms that reduce the number of inmates in prisons and jails serving sentences for nonviolent offenses?
Clyde: I believe that criminal justice reform is necessary in the area of repeat offenders and illegal immigrants. We must protect our citizens by enforcing harsher sentences for those with a pattern of illegal behavior. Additionally, taxpayers should not be paying for the prosecution and jailing of illegal immigrants. Illegal aliens breaking the law should immediately be handed over to ICE, deported and barred from entering the country again or ever becoming a United States citizen.
Gurtler: I applaud President Trump for signing the First Step Act, which was a step in the right direction in terms of reforming our broken criminal justice system. In most instances prison and jail should be reserved for those who violate the life, liberty or property of peaceful individuals. When we see the elites like Hillary Clinton get away with violating the Constitution and not suffer any consequences, that undermines the rule of law. Let’s let more peaceful individuals out of the system so they can be productive members of society and put and keep the real criminals behind bars.
5. Should Congress do whatever it can to rebuild the economy no matter the long-term impact on the national debt?
Clyde: I do believe Congress is trying to recover our economy. However, I believe that their philosophy is flawed. We should not add to the national debt. Prior to the pandemic, our economy was incredible. The prosperity that we have experienced over the past three years was not because government stepped in, it is because the government got out of the way. The government doesn’t create jobs, Americans do. We need to encourage people to enter the marketplace by cutting taxes, resulting in the organic creation of jobs. The United States’ economy is resilient because we are an exceptional people and there is great dignity in honest work.
Gurtler: One of the biggest, if not the biggest, threat we face as a country is a looming national debt. During my time as state representative I saw firsthand when career politicians didn’t think twice about adding billions of dollars of new debt to Georgians. We must not allow ourselves to think that “the ends justify the means,” but we must always follow the Constitution and conservative principles. That means a balanced budget, less taxes and supporting the free market. During COVID-19 we saw regulations and red tape eliminated to help the economy and save jobs, and those changes need to be kept and we need to continue eliminating government intervention into our lives, our families and our businesses. That’s how we will have prosperity and freedom.