Incumbent Republican Lynn Jenkins is facing a challenge from fellow Topeka resident Tobias Schlingensiepen, a Democrat, in the race for the U.S. House of Representatives, 2nd District.
1) Why are you running for Congress? Jenkins: This country needs leadership, and I have experience working with Republicans and Democrats to pass good legislation. As a CPA and mother, I bring an understanding of how to create budgets and manage finances to a Congress full of lawyers. I want to continue working on commonsense solutions to fix the economy and get folks back to work. Schlingensiepen: I’m running to create jobs and end fiscal recklessness. But I can’t do that — no one can — until we change the way Congress works. My opponent, Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from big banks and insurance companies, while voting against her constituents and doing the bidding of these big-dollar donors. That has got to stop. 2) For many, the No. 1 issue in this campaign is jobs and the economy. What do you see as the best path to getting the country's economy back on track? Jenkins: Balancing the budget, comprehensive tax reform, reducing unnecessary regulation, and eliminating uncertainty will encourage job creation. I helped pass: 30+ jobs bills, the Reins Act to reduce regulations, a balanced budget plan, and fundamental tax reform. While Senate leadership has blocked these measures, a strong showing by likeminded fiscally responsible candidates will show Washington that Americans want solutions, not posturing. Schlingensiepen: My top priority is to create jobs. We must invest in education and eliminate the tax benefits wealthy corporations get for sending jobs overseas. Today 3 to 4 million jobs are going begging because workers aren't trained to fill them. We must provide the financial support Kansans need to get the training and skills to fill those jobs. 3) Some blame continual congressional gridlock a chronic lack of progress. Faith in Congress is also at an all-time low. What can you do as a member of the House to break the acrimony and start accomplishing goals? Jenkins: Bipartisanship is necessary to solve our problems. I supported several bipartisan bills including: Drought assistance for farmers ineligible for crop insurance, repealing a new law that requires patients who use health savings accounts to get a doctor's prescription before they buy over-the-counter medications and a plan from Democrat Ron Wyden and Republican Paul Ryan to keep Medicare from going bankrupt. Schlingensiepen: I’m not foolish enough to think that I can change Congress all by myself, but I can make a start. If elected, my first task will be to invite the Kansas delegation to sit down with me for breakfast once a week. More problems have been solved over eggs and coffee than by a single political speech. 4) Debate over health care in the U.S. continues even after the Supreme Court's decision earlier this year on the Affordable Care Act. Do you support the act? If so, why? If not, what would you replace it with? Jenkins: I voted against the President's healthcare law because it did nothing to address the real problem with healthcare: Affordability. Instead of lowering costs, it will increase the debt, hinder job creation, and includes an $800 billion tax hike — 12 new taxes on the middle class. We need to put patients in charge of healthcare decisions, not insurance companies or bureaucrats. Schlingensiepen: We must make certain insurance companies can't discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, lifetime benefit caps are lifted, children can stay on their parents’ policies and coverage is expanded. My opponent has a plan the Congressional Budget Office says won’t work because it would barely expand health care and people in the 2nd District would still be suffering. 5) While many agree that the U.S. should work to reduce its long-term debt, disagreement persists as to how to make that happen, resulting in the looming "fiscal cliff" with its reductions in federal spending. What do you think is the best approach to dealing with the national debt? Jenkins: If we want to fix our national debt we will need to eliminate waste and grow our economy. I voted for a plan that eliminates duplicative programs, reflects the ban on earmarks, curbs corporate welfare, prevents defense cuts by lowering non-security discretionary spending to $1.028 trillion, and reduces deficits by more than $3 trillion over the next decade. Schlingensiepen: We must take a practical, balanced approach based on shared sacrifice and abandon rigid ideologies. But some things are non-negotiable. I will protect Social Security and Medicare. My opponent has voted to turn Medicare into the equivalent of a voucher that the Congressional Budget Office reports would force seniors to pay $6,000 more out of their own pockets every year. 6) As you have been out campaigning, what issues do you see coming up repeatedly as concerns from Kansans in the 2nd District? How do you respond to those concerns? Jenkins: I host town hall meetings in all 25 counties and hold monthly open office hours, which are private meetings with 2nd district constituents. Jobs and the economy remain the top issues. In response, I hosted Veterans' Fairs, Jobs Fairs, and Government Resource Fairs to provide Kansans the opportunity to find a job or become informed about government services. Schlingensiepen: My opponent has voted with her leadership 96 percent of the time. People want a voice, not an echo. They want their representative to listen. My opponent gives her constituents 10 minutes during her “office hours,” while hosting $4,600 parties for her campaign contributors at swank, member-only clubs near Capitol Hill. That kind of Washington thing has got to stop.