Congressman Mike Turner speaks to Emily McCord for this week's PoliticsOhio. Turner says his history as a Congressman and Mayor of Dayton is reason for voters to give him another term. He discusses with McCord his views on sequestration, what he will and will not compromise on to get a budget deal passed through Congress, and how he believes Delphi workers should have their pensions restored.
McCord: Welcome to PoliticsOhio I'm Emily McCord and today I'm joined by Congressman Mike Turner he represents Ohio's 3rd District and he's seeking reelection for Ohio's newly formed 10th District. Welcome thanks for being here.
Turner: Emily thank you for focusing on this race I appreciate that.
M: As I mentioned this is a newly formed district some voters that may not know you, may have not voted for you before what's your message to them? Why do you deserve to be reelected?
T: Well if you look at my record of both support for Wright Patterson Air Force Base which has undertaken the largest growth since World War II over $350 million worth of new construction to accept BRAC jobs that were awarded in the amount of 2,500 jobs that has grown to 10,000 additional jobs for Wright Patt. My work experience working as a team member as the Mayor of Dayton, Schuster Center, the baseball stadium, Riverscape people know I am about making things happens. And with the expanded district I can tell you my parents are very excited to vote for me they've been living in Beavercreek for the past 25 years, Green County residents, and they are very excited with the expanded district they will finally be able to go to the polls and vote for their son.
M: It is a new district, all of Montgomery County, Greene County and parts of Fayette County is there any concern that Montgomery county certainly leans Democrat that there is a different level of support for a Republican candidate than there has been in the past?
T: Well you know I served as the Mayor of The City of Dayton so I have always worked in a bipartisan manner and I look at this region as a very thoughtful region that votes, elects, based on the person and I think when you look at my record when you look at what I've accomplished for the community hopefully I will have the support of people in the 10th District.
M: I want to talk about sequestration because certainly that could have implications for Wright Patterson Air Force Base in the Miami Valley. Sequestration was set into motion with the debt ceiling talks and it’s these across the board cuts that will happen unless a budget deal is reached and it could mean something like $500 billion in additional cuts for the defense industry. President Obama in the last debate said that sequestration wasn't going to happen, do you agree with that?
T: Well I am very concerned about the President's decision. As you know I voted against the raising the debt limit: one because I believe that we were not taking seriously the issue of getting control of the out of control spending in Washington secondly because of the threat of sequestration we would be gambling our national security. That these automatic-issue-described across the board cuts that would occur in January would be devastating to not only our national security but to Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The President is on record as saying he would veto any bill to repeal sequestration and in fact when the super committee was put together in an attempt to avert the sequestration The President withdrew from and discussions or negations with them,. He has not put on the table any plan that would offset these cuts the House has passed a bill that would offset these cuts The Senate has not passed one nor have they even debated one. So with The President saying they're not going to happen I think The President needs to show the American public how? How with him having such a strong position that he would veto any effort to offset them does he plan to avert this?
M: One of the main points of contention in Congress is the idea of these Bush era tax cuts would there be any compromise from on your end in terms of letting any part of the Bush era tax cuts expire in order to get a budget deal passed?
T: One thing I'd like to point out is they keep referring to these as Bush era tax cuts but in fact the tax cuts that are currently in place are Obama era tax cuts because Obama actually supported and asked Congress to extend them and they were extended so these are actually the Obama era tax cuts of the Bush tax cut plan. The President has said that he wants to selectively have some of them expire and quite frankly I think what he has picked would be devastating to the economy if you actually go and raise taxes on small business across the country at a time when they are trying to create jobs and are struggling economically you will actually cost the economy jobs. When the government takes money out of the system, the system, our economic system has less money within which to spend for capital, for jobs creation, and the government never does as good enough a job in what it does with as what the private sector does. So I think with the anemic economic growth that we have it is absolutely a mistake to raise taxes. Now I do believe that The President needs to come to the table and look at wholescale budgetary and tax reform and when we do that obviously we have to look at every aspect of both our budgeting and our taxes and that puts on the table, hopefully, getting us to a path of ending these trillion dollar deficits.
M: So in terms of ending the tax cuts you don't want to support any reduction?
T: They should not be repealed.
M: What about other forms of compromise? Can you give me an example of something you would be willing to compromise in order to reach a budget deal passed?
T: Sure well currently the proposal that we have has 50% of all cuts falling against defense which is only 17% of the budget, I think what we need is a wholescale review of all of the budgetary processes of The Federal Government. When I was Mayor for the City of Dayton I inherited a city that had not balanced its budget for 5 years. And we immediately had to balance the budget and we did so by doing a wholescale review we even looked for savings in the police and fire departments even though at the same time we were expanding services in the police and fire departments, similarly when you do that in the federal budget. Looking to savings in defense can allow us to apply those savings still to National Security without cutting National Security. I think what is really important about The President's deal that I think people are rejecting is that The President brought forth a budget in January that had increased taxes and increased spending. Now I've gone all across Southwest Ohio and I've asked people two: questions how many people in the room will be willing to pay increased taxes to actually pay down the national debt recognizing that it is an existential threat to our country, we're passing this off to our kids and grandkids and it’s a stone dragging our economy and I'll get half the room three quarters of the room to raise their hand saying they'd make that sacrifice to actually pay down the national debt. And then I'll ask them the second question, how many of you are willing to pay increase taxes for increase spending? Not one person raises their hand and that was The President's budget. That’s why when it went to the House floor it received no votes when it went to the Senate floor it received no votes. The President’s plan is not workable it certainly is not a beginning point for a dialogue where there can be compromise.
M: So you're talking about savings and the defense industry would you be willing to see any cuts additionally to the defense industry in order to reach a deal?
T: Well already The President has pushed forward $500 billion worth of cuts to the defense industry and to cross the national security line. Those cuts are still falling in place they are over a ten year period. We are seeing the affects, I do believe The Department of Defense has a plan that they think is workable to sustain those initial cuts. What we have now though are additional cuts that are proposed where even Secretary [of defense] Panetta and former Secretary [of defense] Gates both say these cuts would be devastating we cannot let these cuts go forward without risking our National Security. Remember the world is not getting to be a safer place. We are not talking about cutting future systems not cutting excess of spending at this point at this point we would have to park aircraft carriers, planes would have to be parked there are pilots that would not receive their flight training hours this really would be devastating.
M: So no in terms of any other further defense cuts you would not support that?
T: I think the first $500 billion cut that went into the national defense is probably the full extent that they would be able to sustain.
M: Let’s talk about Delphi for a moment this is an issue you have been talking about a lot. Delphi when it went bankrupt non-union employees lost anywhere from 30-70% of their pensions while their union counterparts retained their pensions. Why is this an issue that is so important to you?
T: Well it’s a complete injustice. When the bankruptcy went through the federal government, by stepping in and acquiring General Motors, and having the auto task force that was funding the acquisition of general motors and having the PBGC, the arm that is supposed to guarantee pensions of those who are in retirement, be subservient to the Treasury Department and then also the UAW at the table with this administration putting together a deal you have the Treasury Department on all sides of the deal where in our Judicial System for a bankruptcy to work the parties all come in independent and then compromise and then solutions are worked \out with the judge weighing the interests of all the parties. What happened is all the parties became Trim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary, except for the Delphi retiree’s who had their pensions reduced. It’s wrong I believe it is illegal, the lawsuit that is pending by the Delphi salaried retiree's I think has a great chance of pointing out the impropriety that occurred here. At the same The Administration did this again with tax payer’s dollars they also then refused to share any of the documents or information or basis by which they pick winners or losers. When all these employees, former employees, retirees of Delphi present themselves in the bankruptcy case they all by contract have rights to their pensions and until The Administration came in and said we are going to deal with each of these parties differently they all stood in the same shoes they all stood equal. That’s not how our country works we don’t have people based on their designation or relationship with The Administration be treated differently in the outcome of a bankruptcy report.
M: We spoke to your opponent Sharen Neuhardt last week on the program PoliticsOhio and she was saying your focus is on the wrong thing that your focus should be on restoring the pensions to workers and she points to legislation from Sherrod Brown, US Senator Sherrod Brown that would do that. What’s your response to that?
T: That is our focus is restoring the pensions and certainly that is why the Delphi salaried retirees are working with us so diligently because One their litigation is proceeding with our full endorsement the congressional investigation are all about restoring the pensions. The legislation that Senator Brown put forward I believe is certainly cast within the political environment of the throes of the last month of a political campaign. And if it was law today not one dollar would go to one pension of the Delphi salaried retirees that’s not a solution that works. If his legislation would fund the Delphi salaried retirees pensions today you would have the whole group of them heralding in marching to Washington demanding that the bill be passed. It would not put today one dollar in their pensions and of course he doesn't have any support from The Administration for this legislation either.
M: Is there an alternative piece of legislation that you propose that would restore the pensions to these workers.
T: What we have supported and what we think is probably the best solution, the Delphi salaried retirees themselves have a proposal as how their pensions are restored. We are continuing to support that, we believe that with the oversight review of Congress with the litigation that is ongoing that both the Administration and the PBGC upon reviewing the proposal will see that the pension funds were sufficient and that the discrimination of the pensioners was improper and that therefore the pensions should be restored.
M: I've been speaking with Congressman Mike Turner he is representing Ohio's 3rd District and is running for reelection in Ohio's 10th District, thanks for being here today.
T; Thank you.