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Congressional candidates debate

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was experience versus new perspectives as Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo and Frank Blas, Jr. met for the first time following the Primary Election for the Rotary Club of Guam's congressional forum.

Bordallo stated, "Congress is a complex place and it requires experience to understand how it works in order to incorporate your own provisions into various legislation and not just your standalone bills," with Blas adding, "As Guam's delegate to Washington, I'll certainly take full advantage that the House is Republican run better than the seniority of my opponent, I'll be a member of the majority party." Bordallo and Blas opened today's forum by speaking on what they hope to bring as Guam's next representative in our nation's capital.

Bordallo spoke on her experience in the past ten years and several of her accomplishments including advancing war claims further than any of her predecessors. Blas meanwhile noted that many critical issues remain outstanding since Bordallo has been in office saying people are looking for a change. The debate started with each candidate's stance on Obamacare, whether it should be amended or repealed and what affects it had on Guam.

Both noted they thought many of the provisions such as allowing children up to 26 to remain on their parent's health plan and prohibiting coverage based on pre-existing conditions were good provisions in the act.

Bordallo however says there's room for improvement, saying, "If there is an opportunity to move on healthcare reform for Guam I would want to ensure that we make all services provided to FAS citizens eligible for Medicaid funding, and I would try to increase our federal match."

Blas meanwhile says he wants to work on several of the provisions in which Guam was left off. "Besides that the healthcare does nothing to address the rising cost healthcare on our island. In fact, what it does is increases the cost of healthcare - it raises taxes on consumers and business. Did you know this healthcare act will impose 21 new taxes on all of us," he stated.

Meanwhile candidates stated their position on Guam's existing tax code, which mirrors the IRC, which Blas says means we're subject to any changes that Congress makes. "I do not believe remaining under the current system is the most beneficial to our island," he said. "First, it leaves us to the mercy of Congress who makes the decision based on U.S. economic conditions, which is not necessarily mean our economic realities."

Bordallo meanwhile says Guam's tax code have placed certain challenges on GovGuam. She further discussed trying to meet a middle ground and dwelled on sequestration and its impact on Guam, noting, "If sequestration were allow to occur, it would send our economy back into a recession. Many have urged that we just stop sequestration from occurring. This is not fiscally responsible and still leaves the issue of how we deal with the deficit."

As for the buildup, both were adamant that they have and always been in support of the buildup, but hopes Guam's concerns are addressed better. "In future years, I will always support our military construction requests for the realignment and continue to work with senior DOD officials to make sure the program is done right," said Bordallo, with her opponent adding, "One of the ways I'll advance this is to ensure first off that we continue to have a fluid discussion on what is necessary to ensure this process goes through."

And while their answers were obvious, both candidates were asked on who they supported in this upcoming presidential election. Bordallo says President Barack Obama has committed to refocus on the Asia Pacific region and his appointment of Tony Babauta as the highest-ranking Chamorro in the U.S. federal government ensures Guam's agenda is heard. "President Obama has done a lot for Guam most notably when I blew on Air Force One with him, he broke the news that Russian citizens can travel to Guam on a visa free basis," she said.

Blas meanwhile says Obama's policies have hurt Guam's economy, saying, "Guam will do better under a pro-growth president, which I believe Romney is. And I just like all of you to remember that I firmly believe that if we had the power to vote for president, the next commander chief would be able to get off of the plane and say hi to the people of Guam next time he has a stopover here."

The candidates will next meet at the Guam Medical Association congressional debate set for October 18.

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