Utah Democratic congressional candidate Jay Seegmiller went on the offensive Wednesday, calling out his opponent’s economic views as the "equivalent of jumping off an economic cliff" while also challenging the Republican to a series of televised debates.
"There is a smart way to rein in spending and grow the economy, and there is a reckless and dangerous way to do it," Seegmiller said. "My opponent’s plan is clearly the latter because of his reckless adherence to ideology and refusal to compromise ... regardless of the consequences."
Seegmiller leveled the charges against his Republican rival, Chris Stewart, while speaking from the edge of a cliff just below Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City — lest anyone miss the symbolism.
Both men are seeking the open seat in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. That district used to be the home to longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson. But after the district lines were redrawn and Utah got a new district, Matheson chose to run in the 4th Congressional District.
Seegmiller also unveiled his job-creation plan, dubbed "3-2-1." The plan calls for the creation of 3 million jobs nationally by bringing $2 trillion in capital from overseas "to secure one American recovery."
He said the plan was to temporarily drop the tax rate to 10 percent for companies bringing their capital from abroad and using the tax money for job creation in the United States. He said it was based on a 2011 bill proposed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., that sought to drop the rate on repatriated profits to as low as 5.25 percent if a company increased its payroll by 10 percent.
Seegmiller said he believed his plan could reduce unemployment to 6 percent while generating revenues of $90 billion.
Stewart said he agreed corporate taxes should be lowered, "but if that was enough, Jay and I would shake hands and say that’s enough. But, of course, there’s more to it than that."
In his plan, Stewart wants to cap federal spending at 18 percent of the gross domestic product while creating three income tax brackets set at 10, 15 and 25 percent — the latter for incomes exceeding $75,000 a year.
Stewart also dismissed any implication he was trying to dodge a debate.
"We look forward to them," Stewart said.
Seegmiller laced his 10-minute speech with the theme that Stewart was a man who had a gloomy view of America’s future.
"I can’t stand by and let him dismantle the progress we’ve made and sell it for parts," Seegmiller said. "I reject the pessimism and radical fatalism that animate his view of the world and of America," he said.
Stewart, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, author and founder of the training and consulting firm The Shipley Group, said Seegmiller was mischaracterizing him.
"It’s ironic because it’s entirely untrue. Our whole point is to talk to people about hope and the American Dream and that we can preserve the American Dream," Stewart said. "We’ve been saying that people are quite discouraged but we’ve been through adversity before and we can overcome it again."
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