Democratic Senate candidate Scott Leckman says Sen. Bob Bennett is wrong on a number of issues, but none more so than tobacco.
While Bennett, R-Utah, says he wants a reasonable, workable solution to the tobacco question - teenagers protected and tobacco firms paying higher taxes - Leckman says Bennett's voting record doesn't square with the talk.Tobacco and how to handle it is only one of many issues the two candidates disagree on.
Leckman, a general surgeon, basically believes that Congress and Bennett haven't taken what opportunities are presented to help families, especially families with children, or deal with the work-a-day problems of Americans.
To give families more money, Leckman would triple the current $500 tax credit per child to $1,500. For some Utah families with a number of children, that would prove to be a considerable tax break.
He also wants to better fund early childhood intervention programs, believing the programs work and will save taxpayers a lot of money down the road in health care, education, even prison costs.
Bennett believes the GOP-controlled House and Senate are moving in the right direction, getting the federal government out of people's lives, reining back the Internal Revenue Service and eliminating the federal budget deficit.
Leckman criticizes Bennett for first supporting, then opposing, a bill sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that would have raised cigarette taxes considerably and put the money into a new children's health-care plan.
This year, Bennett opposed the McCain tobacco bill, the main tobacco bill debated, says Leckman. "In June 1998, Bennett voted to kill a measure designed to reform the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of tobacco to minors," he adds.
Bennett says the Hatch bill may have actually led to fewer kids being covered by health care and that the other bills had such high tobacco tax increases that black marketing of cigarettes could have resulted compromising control of tobacco products.
Bennett says Congress should give another round of tax cuts, much along the lines of cuts that took place several years ago.
Increasing the child tax credit, cutting the capital gains and estate taxes helped spur the U.S. economy into the longest expansion in recent history, Bennett says.
The senator says that letting people keep their money and make their own choices about how it is spent is the best thing the federal government can do.
Besides answering questions posed by the Deseret News, Leckman also filled out the Vote Smart questionnaire. Bennett declined to fill out the Vote Smart questionnaire; his aides say he stands by a long-time policy of not filing out such questionnaires. In fact, Bennett's aversion to filling out questionnaires is so strong he preferred to be interviewed by the Deseret News rather than fill out the newspaper's questionnaire.
Leckman's Vote Smart answers can be found online at (www.vote-smart.org).
What is the main issue facing Utahns and how would you address it?
SCOTT LECKMAN (D)
We need to stop failing our children. Twenty percent of our children live in poverty. The number of homeless children has tripled in the last decade. The homicide rate for children ages 14-17 has increased 172 percent since 1985. Illicit drug use among high school seniors has increased.
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