Throughout October, candidates for Utah’s congressional delegation, four house seats and one senate seat, debated at events sponsored by the Utah Debate Commission, a non-partisan group dedicated to getting candidates on stage to showcase themselves and their ideas to voters.
Rep. Blake Moore (R) and challenger Rick Jones (D), running for the U.S. House District 1 seat, appeared at Weber State University on Oct. 10. The first district encompasses Ogden, Logan, Park City, Layton and Clearfield. It is the only district in Utah that does not contain a portion of Salt Lake County, though that will change when new district maps are put into place next year.
As part of The Globe’s 2022 midterm election coverage, views from both candidates about topics most important to Salt Lake Community College students are compiled below. Topics covered include inflation, abortion, the west’s drought and reaching across the aisle.
Current levels of inflation
Moore said the inflation Americans are experiencing is primarily caused by government spending, pointing to the federal stimulus in American Rescue Plan, which he said has lead “to 40-year high inflation.”
“This is a tax on Americans, whatever your income status is,” Moore said.
Moore added that current inflation issues require more than a change in spending and fiscal policy. “We won’t get the inflation questions figured out until we face the energy policy,” he said.
Jones said he understands why rising costs frustrate Americans, but disagreed with Moore about the cause of inflation. “I feel like the media has promoted a myth, and the main idea is that inflation is caused by debt,” he said.
Jones urged voters to differentiate public debt held by the government from private debt they may hold themselves, and that the former hasn’t historically been a signal of an impending crisis.
“The greatest economic disaster of our country was the Great Depression and there was little government debt leading up to it,” Jones said.
Do you consider abortion a healthcare issue?
Moore answered that it’s an ongoing debate that will continue “for months and years.”
Moore added that he has two primary concerns when considering the question of abortion: Protecting life and making sure women have the resources they need when they’re in the situation of caring for a child unexpectedly.
Moore co-sponsored the Care for Her Act, a federal bill that would allow taxpayers to claim the child tax credit in the year preceding the birth of their child.
Jones said abortion can indeed be a healthcare issue for women. Alluding to restrictive abortion bills like Utah’s currently stalled trigger law – which bans all abortions except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the mother’s health – he said he’s “appalled” that children as young as 10 could be forced to carry a child to term if the circumstances allowed for it.
“I think it’s foolish to try and criminalize abortion when approximately two-thirds of the country want at least what was available before Roe v. Wade was overturned,” Jones said.
Does the federal government have a role in implementing policy related to drought for those in the west?
The federal government does have a role, Jones answered, though he addressed the question broadly in the sense of carbon emissions.
“For every hundred [molecules of carbon dioxide that we create], we’ll still have 50 around in a century,” Jones said. “We’ll have to look at some steps to [reduce] carbon consumption.”
Moore said he has already taken action as a congressperson to address problems of the Great Salt Lake with what Moore referred to as the “Great Salt Lake Bill.”
The bill would establish a monitoring program for saline lakes throughout the western half of the U.S. to ensure the health of the lakes and the ecosystems reliant upon them.
Climate problems shouldn’t be fixed one by one, Moore added.
“We have to take a comprehensive approach at this,” Moore said. “We have to deal with things acutely in the near-term; we have to be willing look at greenhouse gas emissions over time [and] what the U.S. can be doing to lead in this effort.”
What can your party do to reach across the aisle?
Jones said the Democratic party faces “an uphill climb.” In District 1, voters cast nearly twice as many votes for Donald Trump than for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
“Many Democratic economic proposals are a little counter-intuitive and more long term,” Jones said.
“I think that we need to challenge Republican ideas on other issues like Federalism and our rights,” Jones continued. “I think that’s a constant struggle, to keep our voters informed and steer them from a lot of theories that have a superficial plausibility.”
Moore addressed the one-third of voters in District 1 who did not vote for him two years ago by saying that he continues to interact with media to ensure voters know and understand what he believes.
“The truth is, when you take on a role like this, you give up the opportunity to be liked by everybody,” Moore said. “You have to make difficult decisions … I’ve given up on that life, that I can always be liked by everybody. While doing that, I think I’ve shown that I am still willing to show up and communicate with everybody.”
More information about both candidates, including full platforms, can be found on their respective websites: Rep. Blake Moore, Rick Jones. The full debate can be found on the Utah Debate Commission’s YouTube channel.