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Oct. 9—The 8th Congressional District election is a rematch.
Two years ago, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Moosic resident, defeated Jim Bognet, a Hazle Twp. resident, by 12,221 votes, a 3.56-percentage point margin.
This year, Cartwright was unopposed for the Democratic nomination while Bognet defeated former Hazleton Mayor Mike Marsicano to earn the Republican nod. The job pays $174,000 a year.
Bognet owns a management/communications consultancy.
Cartwright, who spent decades as a lawyer before his election to Congress in 2012, seeks a sixth two-year term. He sits on the House Appropriations Committee and serves as chairman of its Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee.
The election is Nov. 8.
Starting today and on the next two Sundays, The Sunday Times will present their candidates' views on key issues. Their positions on inflation, taxes, Social Security and Medicare appear today.
InflationFacts: The annual rate of inflation stood at 1.4% when President Donald Trump left office and at 8.3% in August after 19 months with President Joe Biden in office. The 9.1% peak in June was the highest since 9.6% in November 1981.
Experts generally agree factors feeding inflation include higher fuel costs, higher employee salaries because of worker shortages and supply chain disruptions. Some join Republicans in blaming Biden's economic stimulus American Rescue Plan for surging product demand. The Federal Reserve Board has hiked interest rates multiple times to tame inflation.
In August, Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act. Republicans say it does nothing to curb prices, but the law caps the monthly price of insulin for Medicare recipients at $35 and annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $2,000. The law also allows Medicare to negotiate prices on some of the costliest non-generic drugs. The bill's investment in clean energy aims to curb the nation's long-term dependence on oil.
Bognet: Faults Biden's American Rescue Plan Act and other big Democratic spending bills that Cartwright supported because, he says, all that spending pushed up inflation. Says Biden's decision to end the Keystone XL Pipeline and block new oil drilling on federal land discouraged companies from more oil exploration and fueled higher gas prices.
Favors allowing more domestic drilling to boost production and promises to block big-spending bills. Blames Biden for reappointing Jerome Powell as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board because the Fed's interest rate hikes have hurt the economy and ties Cartwright to Biden on that point. Says Cartwright had nothing to do with attracting Nacero to the region.
Cartwright: Denies he and Biden are to blame for inflation. Blames supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and price-gouging shippers and points out huge inflation worldwide, too.
Touts his support of the Inflation Reduction Act and co-sponsorship of bills that would repeal federal gasoline taxes through the end of the year; strengthen investigations of price gouging and shippers; and end military support to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for cutting oil production.
Says he's working for more favorable federal tax treatment so Nacero Inc. can build its proposed $6 billion natural gas-to-gasoline plant near Nanticoke.
Facts: Spending will deplete the main Medicare trust fund by 2028, leaving the program reliant on existing taxes, according to the Medicare trustees 2022 annual report. The fund pays for inpatient hospital services, hospice care and skilled nursing home and home-health services after hospital stays.
Bognet: Favors giving patients more access to the cost of procedures so they can shop around. Credited the inflation act's insulin price cap. Isn't sure Medicare negotiating prescription drug prices will work, but is willing to wait and see.
Cartwright: Touts his support of the inflation act and its Medicare caps on insulin and out-of-pocket prescription drug costs and giving Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices.
Facts: The main Social Security trust fund will hit zero by 2034, according to the Social Security trustees' 2021 report, requiring a 22% benefit cut.
The solutions offered most often include raising the payroll tax or the cap on income subject to the tax, cuts to future benefit increases or a combination of each.
Bognet: Opposes benefit cuts or privatization and says he never wrote Romney's plan on Social Security. Still proposes growing the nation's economy to produce more payroll tax revenues. Blames Biden and Cartwright for inflation eating away at Social Security benefits. Says Congress should be able to find more money to "buck up the program" in such a large federal budget. Says he's "open to all solutions on the table" and willing to "work across the aisle" on solutions, but says, "I never want to start with tax increases."
Cartwright: Has always opposed any hints of benefit cuts. Points out Bognet served as policy development director for presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2007, and 2008, when Romney considered reducing Social Security benefits and allowing partial privatization. Also points out Bognet appeared on television on Romney's behalf, and said "reforming entitlements" like Social Security and Medicare was "the big enchilada" to balancing the federal budget. Says that shows Bognet will cut benefits.
Has co-sponsored a bill to increase benefits, tie cost-of-living adjustments to an elderly consumer spending inflation index and eventually impose the payroll tax on all earnings. (Only the first $147,000 is taxed this year.)
Facts: The Inflation Reduction Act includes an alternative minimum 15% tax on big corporations and a 1% excise tax on a company's stock repurchases. The Biden administration argues the act doesn't raise taxes "a single cent" on anyone earning less than $400,000 a year, though Republicans argue corporations will pass higher tax costs to consumers.
Bognet: Can't envision ever voting for a tax hike. Has strongly praised Trump's handling of the economy and the 2017 tax cut and criticized Cartwright's opposition. Criticizes the inflation act partly for adding IRS agents who will chase taxpayers and create "a backdoor tax increase on every small business in America."
Cartwright: Opposed President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts because most of the savings went to the wealthy. Has supported tax cuts for people earning less than $400,000 a year. Touts the inflation act's minimum corporate tax and its funding for more IRS agents to make big corporations pay a fair share of taxes. Touts his support for child tax credits in Biden's American Rescue Plan and tax cuts on benefits in a bill meant to ensure Social Security's future.
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