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Examiner
  • Cleaver, Turk again square off in 5th District

  • In the 5th District, incumbent Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Kansas City, is seeking a fifth two-year term in Congress. He is challenged by Republican Jacob Turk of Lee’s Summit and Libertarian Randy Langkraehr, who lives near Warrensburg. Turk and Langkraehr both ran against Cleaver in 2008 and 2010, and Turk also ran in 2006.

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  • In the 5th District, incumbent Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Kansas City, is seeking a fifth two-year term in Congress. He is challenged by Republican Jacob Turk of Lee’s Summit and Libertarian Randy Langkraehr, who lives near Warrensburg. Turk and Langkraehr both ran against Cleaver in 2008 and 2010, and Turk also ran in 2006.
    The district, like all congressional districts, has been redrawn in advance of this election, due to population shifts reflected in the 2010 census.
    The district includes Independence, much of Blue Springs and most of Grain Valley. It includes most of Kansas City as well as several suburbs north of the river such as Gladstone and North Kansas City. It also reaches east into Sugar Creek and Independence generally west of the Little Blue River. It dips south to Lee’s Summit, then east to Lake Lotawana and back up to Blue Springs, taking in everything east of Missouri 7 plus the part of the city south of Interstate 70, east of Woods Chapel Road and north of Clark Road. The district also includes Grain Valley and Oak Grove south of I-70, plus Lafayette, Ray and Saline counties. It’s bigger than the old district – essentially Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit and a slice of Cass County – because Missouri lost a seat in Congress due to the census.
    The Examiner asked the candidates four questions. Langkraehr said he does not respond to news media questionnaires:
    1. What is the best policy to put Medicare and Social Security on a firm financial footing for the long term?
    Turk: I believe strongly that a promise made is a promise kept. Our seniors on fixed incomes rely on these programs, and I will work to protect their current benefits. I disagree with Emanuel Cleaver’s approach of nickel-and-diming seniors to death by raising co-pays and denying COLA increases. The first step to restoring financial stability is to keep politicians in Congress from raiding the trust funds and protecting the assets within both Social Security and Medicare so the money will be there for those who need it, when they need it.
    Cleaver: By cutting $716 billion of waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare system, we have been able to add eight additional years to Medicare’s solvency, without any reduction in benefits. Closing the Part D prescription drug doughnut hole has already saved 5.4 million seniors an estimated $4.1 billion. Protecting the integrity and improving the solvency of Social Security is a priority if mine, and one which I will fight any and all attempts to deprive our senior citizens of the benefits they have earned and rightly deserved. I will continue to oppose all efforts to privatize Social Security or to cut Medicare.
    2. What specific steps – spending cuts, revenue increases – should be taken to reduce the federal deficit?
    Page 2 of 3 - Turk: We have not seen a true spending cut by our federal government in decades. The American taxpayer is sick and tired of politicians talking fiscal responsibility, then voting for trillion-dollar deficits that our children and grandchildren will be paying for. The problem is not revenue – it is out-of-control spending. For cuts, the EPA and OSHA are great places to start. As a child of the ’60s, I value a clean environment, and we all want a safe workplace. The problem is that these federal bureaucracies have gone beyond their original intent of protection into overbearing punishment by fines, which costs Americans good-paying jobs. It is time the bureaucrats stopped seeing small business as the enemy and start partnering with businesses to create the jobs our nation desperately needs.
    Cleaver: In this difficult economic time, it is important we work to protect programs that are most important to our middle class families. Programs that help families save for college, put food on the table, and help our veterans find work when they return home are vital to our economic well-being. We need to make smart decisions about cutting our budget – using a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. By reforming our tax code, we can provide a fairer playing field for the middle class, while at the same time focusing on reducing the deficit.
    3. What steps, if any, should the federal government take to lower the unemployment rate and create high-quality, good-paying jobs?
    Turk: With small businesses creating over 60 percent of new jobs, the current policies Cleaver champions are simply wrong-headed – bailouts to the largest corporations, banks and Wall Street firms while socking it to the small businesses through higher taxes and more regulations and government red tape. We must get the government to stop interfering with small businesses so they can do what they do best – create the jobs our nation needs. Good-paying American manufacturing jobs are being destroyed by over-regulation. Let’s get the huge regulatory agencies off our manufacturers’ backs so they can expand and bring this economy back, creating jobs for all Americans.
    Cleaver: Job creation is the best foundation for ensuring prosperity for our middle class. I am committed to creating jobs in our community, and have fought to create thousands of jobs by bringing federal funds home to our region. As a member of the House’s Financial Services Committee, I have been actively involved in fostering greater protections for small businesses with the financial services industry. Further, I have joined bipartisan efforts to encourage credit lending institutions to seriously consider opening up their credit lending to qualified small businesses. Part of our challenge with the economy’s stagnation is a lack of liquidity in the credit markets’ lending, even to the highest scoring credit worthy businesses.
    Page 3 of 3 - 4. What are your specific goals should you be elected to this two-year term in Congress?
    Turk: As Marine veteran, I look forward to fighting for our military men and women and their families, ensuring they receive what was promised them when they joined to serve. I’m deeply concerned about the alarming rate of suicide and divorce among our troops. We must recognize that sending the same military personnel over and over again to combat zones is wrong and has to stop. We have too few veterans in Congress now, and it shows in how our military is handled in D.C. As a former small-business owner of 12 years, one of my top priorities is to champion small business initiatives and reduce regulatory burdens to get job creation jump started again. As a man who pays his own bills and lives within my own household budget, I would get to work immediately on helping to get our nation’s fiscal house in order with a balanced budget accomplished through bringing spending in line with income.
    Cleaver: Our congressional district is continuing to face challenging economic times. I have and will continue to be focused on job creation and economic development efforts. We must remain dedicated and vigilant to improving our economy to afford employment opportunities for all of those able to work. I have also consistently opposed any attempts to increase taxes on the middle class and will continue to do so. It is anticipated that after the election a compromise will be reached to temporarily extend some of the “Bush era tax cuts.” My efforts will continue to be focused on tax relief for the middle class and an equalization of our tax policy to help small businesses grow.
     

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