December 7, 2022

Congressional Candidates Spar on Health Care at Old Lyme Debate and Other Issues

Joe Courtney

Janet Peckinpaugh

Opposing positions on the nation’s new health care reform law were a major feature at the congressional candidate’s debate in Old Lyme last evening. For her part Republican candidate Janet Peckinpaugh derided her opponent, Democratic Congressman Joe Courtney, for supporting what some call “Obama care.”

“We do not need a health care law in Connecticut,” Peckinpaugh said emphatically. A major flaw in the new law, she maintained, was that it does not address tort reform.  Tort reform would limit the amounts that health care providers could be sued for in negligence cases.

Peckinpaugh’s solution, as far as the health care law is concerned, is “to repeal it, defeat it, and start all over again.” Citing as evidence that the new law is not working, Peckinpaugh pointed out that Blue Cross is now “hiking rates by 41%” in the state.

In response Courtney said, “We need the health care reform law in Connecticut.” The Congressman said that health care costs were “difficult for small businesses in the state.” A repeal of the new health care law, he said, “would be a major step backward.”  This would be true he said “for both small businesses and individuals.” In his remarks Green Party candidate G. Scott Deshefy, who also participated in the debate, said simply, “Obama care is only going to make matters worse.”

Another issue addressed by the three candidates was concerns about the environment. Green Party’s Deshefy said with emphasis, “Climate change is real, as are the noxious substances going into the air that we breathe.”
Peckinpaugh said, however, that environmental reform should not go so far that people would have to post on their front doors, how much in carbons their house was emitting. Courtney assured her that this was not being considered by House Democrats.

On the issue of the high costs of going to college, a major issue to parents in Old Lyme and the surrounding area, Peckinpaugh said that she favored a federal tax credit for all college tuitions. For his part Courtney noted that Connecticut is “a higher education state,” and he cited his work in increasing so-called Pell grants to assist in meeting higher education costs. The Green candidate Deshefy went out of way to say that, “Joe [Courtney] has done a fine job on Pell grants.”

For all the other issues, the subject of the very first question lingered over everything else. The question was the candidates’ comments on the new financial regulatory reform law. This law sought to correct the practices of investment houses on Wall Street, which contributed so much to the nation’s present difficult economic difficulties. Courtney said that he strongly supported this measure, because he wanted to be assured that what happened with the markets in 2008, “should never happen again.” He pointed out that this new law established new standards of transparency regarding the investments offered by Wall Street firms to investors, so that, specifically, “buyers should know what they are buying.”

Deshefy said that the simple solution to regulatory reform was to reenact the Glass-Stiegel Act, which required the separation of investment banks and the commercial banks, a law that was repealed during the Clinton administration. Courtney told the Green Party candidate that there simply were not enough votes in the Congress to reenact this measure.

For her part Peckinpaugh said that the new Department of Consumer affairs in the new financial regulatory law, “might not go far enough,” considering, as she put it, “the little that I know about the financial bill.”  She also said the biggest challenge in the state and nation was to create jobs, “and the way to create jobs is to limit government.”

Courtney for his part mentioned a number of areas where new jobs could be created, including “finding new business opportunities overseas for Connecticut businesses,” increasing the solar technology industry and increasing jobs at Electric Boat in Groton, which he claimed he had funded with $1 billion in federal dollars.

Prior to the Congressional debate there was a debate between local state candidates. Incumbent Eileen Daily (D-33rd) sparred with her Republican challenger Neil Nichols over the issue of the current business environment in Connecticut. Nichols stated, “Connecticut is hostile to business,” adding that the state is “losing business” and “our children are leaving the state.” Daily countered that the state, “needs to focus on retraining” and charged, “The Governor should solicit business to come to Connecticut.”

Also participating in the debate were State Representative Marilyn Giuliano (R-23rd) and her challenger Democrat Eileen Baker, who ran against Guiliano in 2008.  

State Senator Andrea Stillman (D-20th) also was present but moderator Olwen Logan, co-owner of Shoreline Web News, LLC, advised the audience of around 150 that Stillman’s challenger, Daniel Docker, an EMT practitioner, had been called to an emergency and was unable to attend.

The debate was the last Congressional debate of the campaign. It was sponsored by the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.

Editor’s Note:  The Congressional debate was recorded by CT9. Details of the television broadcast schedule will be published on ValleyNewsNow as soon as they are announced.