Coastal GA House debate sheds light on health care costs and personal wealth - The Current

Coastal GA House debate sheds light on health care costs and personal wealth – The Current

Candidates for the Coastal Georgia congressional seat faced off in their first debate, in which the candidates answered tough questions about health care costs, inflation and personal wealth.

Hosted at the Atlanta Press Club, Tuesday’s early-night debate featured incumbent Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter, a Republican, and Wade Herring, a Democrat. The streamMargaret Coker, editor, and Savannah Morning News journalist Will Peebles served as a panelist interviewing the men.

Carter, 65, has represented Georgia’s first congressional district since 2015. He previously served as mayor of Pooler and is a pharmacist.

He shared the stage with Herring, a 63-year-old Savannah attorney, who has represented corporations and is a partner at one of the city’s white shoe law firms, Hunter, Maclean, Exley & Dunn, PC .

Carter sought to portray his Democratic opponent as a possible “buffer” for President Biden should he become a member of Congress. Carter repeated the phrase six times. Carter tied his candidacy to national Republican plans to take over Congress and challenge the Biden administration, which he blamed squarely on national inflation.

Meanwhile, Herring has used his airtime to hammer Carter to vote with his party against bills that cut prescription drug costs, Herring claimed.

He asked Carter to explain why he voted against a measure to cap the cost of insulin, a drug to treat diabetes, at $35 under insurance or Medicare.

“I’m up there to do something about (prescription drug costs),” Carter said. “But this cap on insulin was not the way to do it. This will not lead to innovation, all this will only cap the price. »

Carter said many lifesaving drugs will not be produced without “innovation” left alone by regulation.

Herring pointed to Carter’s appearance on fox business as Carter admits, he wants to drive up prescription drug costs.

In the interview, Carter didn’t say that. But he said he wanted to get Republicans to take control of Congress in order to scrap Biden’s Cut Inflation Act.

The law contains measures that reduce prescription drug costs for some Americans.

“(Carter) became a multi-millionaire selling drugs to the elderly. He opposed the insulin cap, he opposed the seniors spending cap, he opposed Medicare’s ability to negotiate drug prices,” Herring said. “He works for Big Pharma, he doesn’t work for us.”

personal wealth

One of the most contentious moments in the debate came when Carter had to explain how he separated his finances from his votes.

Carter was named the 10th richest member of Congress in 2020, according to an analysis of 2019 financial disclosures by Open Secrets, a Washington DC nonprofit that tracks money in Congress.

Carter entered Congress with a net worth of just over $20 million. By 2020, his net worth had more than tripled to more than $66 million, Open Secrets said.

Coker, the panelist, had to twice ask Carter to explain to Coastal Georgia voters how he recuses himself from legislation in Congress that may involve financial interests.

“Look, I have wallets like a number of people have. I don’t manage them. I have people who manage them. I don’t have a say in it,” Carter said. don’t know if a bill will impact something I’m involved in.”

“It’s not like I’m getting this information or anything about what’s going to happen,” he said.

Carter said he would not apologize for working hard and succeeding. He also disputed the $66 million figure calculated by Open Secrets. After the debate, Rep. Carter’s office renewed its objection to the numbers and said, “As recognized by the House Ethics Committee, Mr. Carter does not exercise direct control over the vast majority of his investments, as they have been determined to be except for investment funds. It complies with all disclosure requirements and undergoes annual training to ensure compliance. »

Legislators file annual financial statements revealing their finances within ranges. To estimate net worth, OpenSecrets averages the maximum and minimum value of lawmakers’ assets and debts. The most recent estimates published by OpenSecrets come from 2019 Congressional disclosures.

After Carter was asked about it, Herring took the opportunity to criticize not only Carter’s personal finances, but also his campaign finances.

“The day he said he wanted to raise drug prices, Big Pharma dropped a bunch of PAC money on his campaign,” Herring said. “When he voted against the Cut Inflation Act and his investment in clean energy, Big Oil dropped a bunch of PAC money on his campaign.”

Other issues

Carter and Herring both addressed other key issues in the district, such as climate change and access to abortion.

Carter said he recognizes the existence of climate change, but that it is impossible to “let politics outpace innovation” in regulating energy and promoting green energy sources.

For his part, Herring said the Biden administration’s policies are creating green job opportunities for South Georgians.

Regarding abortion access, Herring said he wanted to protect 1st District voters from criminalization for seeking an abortion.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wadethe unofficial right to abortion for Americans, Carter applauded the decision and said it allowed states to make their own decisions.

“The feds shouldn’t have a say,” Carter said of the implications of the decision.

However, since last year Carter has co-sponsored two federal bills with his party that would criminalize abortions performed after 15 and 20 weeks. They included exceptions for rape and incest or if the mother’s life was at stake.

Carter accused Democrats and Herring of wanting to allow unlimited abortions.

“They want you to be able to have an abortion right up to the time of birth and taxpayers to pay for it,” Carter said. “And now he wants to go to Washington DC and be a rubber stamp for this kind of politics. This is not representative of Georgia’s 1st district.

Herring called it simply untrue and that Carter should be “ashamed” of that statement.

corporate lawyer

Carter wasn’t the only one having to answer tough questions.

Herring was asked how he, a 63-year-old white corporate lawyer, might connect with black voters in the 1st Precinct, who make up 70% of the Democratic electorate who might be wary of him.

“I don’t know the source of the question, but I have worked very hard to represent everyone in the district,” Herring said. “Right now we don’t have that. We have someone who represents himself and represents wealthy corporations.

Herring was also asked about his career defending big business in lawsuits brought by workers and employees, while, at the same time, he criticized Carter as being in the pocket of big business.

“Most of my clients are small and medium businesses and what I’ve done is work with them to be a trusted advisor, a listener, a learner, a problem solver,” Herring said.

He highlighted the organizations he volunteers for and explained how Carter accepts campaign money from the pharmaceutical industry.

While it’s difficult to calculate the majority of Herring’s clients over the course of his career, his profile on his law firm’s website specifically highlights instances where he has represented large corporations.

His law firm’s website shows that he has defended companies like Gulfstream and American General Life And Accident Insurance Company against workers’ claims for which they were discriminated against or lost benefits.

The neighborhood

Rep. Carter is running to retain his seat in what has been known as a “safe” Republican neighborhood. He has won by margins of more than 15% in three of his last four elections. In 2016, he ran unopposed.

He also has higher aspirations: Carter has previously spoken with former President Donald Trump about an endorsement to run against Sen. Raphael Warnock. Since Herschel Walker stepped in to run against Warnock, Carter is now eyeing the job of chairman of the House Budget Committee, a powerful post that sets the agenda for the government’s purse strings.

Carter said if reelected and elevated to chairman of the House Budget Committee, he would seek to overhaul Medicare and Social Security benefits, according to a Bloomberg News article. This could include gradually raising the age an American can access Social Security money from 62 to 70 and the age an American can get Medicare from 65 to 67. , according to the report.

His other campaign plans included limiting the size of government by cutting regulations, cutting health care costs and bolstering national security, according to Carter’s campaign website, which is light on specifics.

Herring said he decided to challenge Carter after watching the Georgia congressman vote to overturn the 2020 election results a day after Jan. 6, 2021, when Holocaust deniers stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Herring accused Carter of putting “politics above our country, our district and our families”. Since then, Savannah’s attorney has focused on issues such as access to abortion, protecting the coast from climate change and gun safety measures. In recent weeks, Herring has sought to highlight Carter’s many financial interests and pharmaceutical industry campaign contributions, dubbing him “Big Pharma’s favorite son” in a recent ad.

Redistricting

The Georgia state legislature reorganized the First Congressional District during the decade-long redistricting process.

Due to the rapid growth of Bryan County and western Chatham County, Carter District lost territory in the southwest and gained some density in the coastal counties.

The redistricting process is supposed to ensure that each state representative serves approximately 765,000 people.

The 1st Congressional District comprises 15 counties, but the bulk of the electoral muscle exists in Georgia’s main coastal counties – Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn and Camden – where 555,527 people live, according to census figures.

More than 366,000 of those residents are registered voters as of December 2021, according to the secretary of state’s office.

The demographic breakdown of all residents of these counties, not just voters, is as follows: 64% white, 30% black and 7% Hispanic, according to recent censuses.

Early voting is underway in Georgia and Election Day is 3 weeks away.

The two candidates are scheduled to debate again at 7 p.m. Wednesday on WTOC-TV in Savannah.

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