Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In Utah’s 2nd District, rivals split on cutting deficit

Politics » Republican says entitlement reform key to balanced budget, Democrat says defense spending can’t be off the table.

< Previous Page

Republican congressional candidate Chris Stewart told a crowd at a debate Tuesday that he wasn’t a tea party candidate and said he refused to sign a high-profile pledge to not raise taxes if he won Utah’s 2nd Congressional District seat on Election Day.

The remarks were made at the Rotary Club of Salt Lake City’s weekly meeting featuring Stewart and his Democratic opponent Jay Seegmiller as they debated for about a half-hour before a crowd of around 120.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

If Stewart were to win the seat, he’d be the only Utah Republican holding federal office who wasn’t a signatory to Grover Norquist’s no-tax pledge.

"We didn’t want to go back to [Washington,] D.C. and have our hands tied," Stewart said. "We wanted to go back and work with people."

But Seegmiller challenged the claim, following a recent line of assertive attacks against Stewart, who has run a campaign centered around fiscal discipline and deficit reduction.

Seegmiller recently called Stewart hypocritical for railing against federal spending while his Farmington-based consulting firm raked in more than $6.5 million in federal contracts, and he ripped his opponent’s desire to gut the Affordable Care Act championed by President Barack Obama without regard for provisions that required insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

But he said Stewart, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, was unwilling to cut any military spending.

"Chris’ plan to cut even deeper to 18 percent of [Gross Domestic Product] was going to have even deeper cuts than [across-the-board] sequestration, and his not wanting to cut the military budget is a problem," Seegmiller said. "I think we have to take a balanced approach."

Stewart argued he was, in fact, willing to cut defense spending but emphasized the focal point of deficit reduction needed to be on entitlement reforms — including privatizing portions of Social Security accounts of younger workers.

"If you’re not willing to look at entitlements — if you’re pretending you can fix this thing without looking at entitlements, you’re not being truthful," Stewart said.

story continues below
story continues below

He also said Seegmiller offered few specifics on how to deal with the federal deficit and sought to tie the former Utah state lawmaker to Obama.

"We all say we want to be balanced about it and be logical about it — for heaven’s sake everyone agrees with that," Stewart said. "The problem is that few people have had the courage to put a plan forward and say this is what we can do. This administration certainly hasn’t done it. The Democrats in the Senate certainly haven’t done it."

Seegmiller told the crowd he wanted to create more jobs by lowering the tax rate on companies that bring money from overseas and invest it in the United States by hiring more workers. He said that plan would generate revenue and help reduce the federal deficit.

Both candidates agreed, however, that the mandatory cuts to the budget that would take place next year under the so-called sequestration would be bad for the economy.

Stewart and Seegmiller have one more debate scheduled for Halloween in St. George at noon. That debate is sponsored by the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce.


Twitter: @davemontero

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.