Smith, Wright talk healthcare, shutdown |

Smith, Wright talk healthcare, shutdown

Aaron Osowski, The Park Record

The continuing federal government shutdown elicits a response from nearly every American. To extend the civil debate on the issues surrounding the shutdown, The Park Record spoke with two local political voices: Summit County Democratic Party Chair Glenn Wright and Save the American Republic Forum Co-Founder Jacqueline Smith.

On the deficit

"The government shutdown is not something that was warranted by anyone," Smith said. "It’s unfortunate that we keep spending our children’s and grandchildren’s futures."

Wright countered Smith by saying that the deficit was caused primarily by the Bush-era tax cuts in 2002 and 2003, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a recession. He added that in President Obama’s first year in office there was a $1.6 trillion deficit which has gone down to $600 billion, equaling four percent of gross domestic product.

Smith said she agreed with Wright on these points, saying the two wars have been "unnecessary" and that there is "a lot of hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle." She added that all of the debt that accumulated under President Bush had doubled under Obama, which she called "unbelievable and unconscionable."

Wright said that Medicare is a source of a long-term deficit problem and the Affordable Care Act addresses that problem, saying the Congressional Budget Office states it will take $1 trillion off of future deficits.

"We need to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and put in larger co-pays on Medicare for higher-income people they can afford it," Wright said. "The Affordable Care Act will control medical costs. More preventative measures will bring down costs."

Smith maintained that it is "not within the federal government’s purview" to be mandating that individuals purchase health insurance. She also said that if Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s decides not to expand Medicare in the state it would be a good decision, and added that Utah needs to "defend its right to be sovereign."

Wright said that expanding Medicare in the state would create an economic impact similar to that of Hill Air Force Base. "If we don’t take that money, it’s going somewhere else," he said.

National parks

In an Oct. 2 Twitter post, Smith said, "During the shutdown, I’ve decided that Federal lands MUST be controlled by the states."

"National parks are part of our public legacy. They belong to everyone. The state of Utah has shown zero ability to manage national parks," Wright said. "[Republicans’] only interest in taking over non-national park lands is to sell them off to oil and gas exploration."

Smith said that national parks were created by the federal government for the purpose of not letting states "pay their own way," as she said many of those lands possess great oil and coal resources.

"They want you to be dependent on the federal government," Smith said. "Either you believe Utah is a sovereign state or you don’t. People in this state aren’t going to let these lands be exploited."

County taxes

Wright said that the movement to stop increases on the Municipal Services and Service Area 6 Funds last year on the part of Smith has "proved to be a disaster," as county roads have deteriorated and the Sheriff’s Office’s capabilities have both diminished as a result.

Smith said she sees a lot of inefficiencies in county government.

"The job of every [county] department head seems to ask for more money," Smith said. "The [Summit County] Council seems more beholden to department heads than their own constituency. A lot of waste happens in county government."

"We can decide as a society, these are the jobs we want government to do and then we have to pay for them," Wright said. "Nobody likes to pay taxes, but they like to have pothole-free roads, they like the sheriff to show up when they dial 9-1-1."

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