12th District rivals Critz, Rothfus spar on health care
Neither candidate running in a tight race for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District seat held out much hope for resolving the strident partisanship that has crippled Congress during a debate Wednesday night.
“We have folks in Congress that are more driven by ideology than by what is good for this country,” said Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown. “The problems this country faces are not going to be solved by a Republican solution or a Democrat solution.”
Critz, 50, and Republican challenger Keith Rothfus, 50, of Sewickley, debated about 20 minutes on the campus of Penn State Beaver in front of an audience of voters and campaign volunteers.
Many arrived toting political campaign signs but were told to leave them outside the auditorium. Critz and Rothfus were among 10 candidates debating during a two-hour program organized by the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce.
Rothfus bristled at Critz's contention that he works well with Republicans and can find bipartisan solutions, saying he voted with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi 95 percent of the time.
“That's an interesting moderate record,” Rothfus said, gesturing to Critz.
Critz criticized Rothfus for supporting U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's budget and desire to repeal Obamacare, a combination Critz believes would increase the cost of medications for senior citizens and run afoul of America's “moral obligation” to help people obtain health insurance.
Rothfus questioned why Critz opposed the Red Tape Reduction Act, a Republican-led measure that he said seeks to improve government efficiency.
“There's a split between those who believe in Washington-centered policies” and those who don't, Rothfus said.
In perhaps the testiest exchange of the debate, Rothfus, a survivor of appendix cancer, was asked about his opposition to Obamacare and what advice he would give to a minimum-wage worker facing cancer who doesn't have health insurance.
Rothfus didn't address the question directly but called Obamacare “a string of empty, broken promises” that will cost $1.7 trillion over 10 years and won't solve the nation's problem of over 20 million uninsured patients. He argued that Obamacare will drain Medicare of $700 billion.
“It's not lowering premiums, it's increasing premiums,” he said.
Rothfus said the market for insurance should be “opened up” and allow Americans to buy insurance across state lines and use tax credits to purchase coverage.
“I think what you heard in my opponent's response was no response about as to what happens to that $8-an-hour person who doesn't have health insurance,” Critz said.
Critz said he does not support cuts to Medicare and Social Security, as Rothfus suggested.
“We're a wealthy country. We should be making sure it's a moral obligation that we help people get health insurance,” Critz said.
The candidates are set to debate again at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. The election is Nov. 6.
Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates rout Cardinals to keep things interesting in NL Central
- Steelers remain confident in defense
- Pitt’s Narduzzi revisits YSU roots in opener
- Security guard shot outside East Hills restaurant
- Berry wins Steelers’ punting job; Wing traded to Giants
- Rossi: Baseball needs a new schedule
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Element of surprise awaits West Virginia in opener
- Penn State offense confident it can have better season
- Pirates notebook: Burnett continues to progress, amps up to 95-pitch simulated game
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of state fishing licenses