MARTINSVILLE — Jobs are the key issues in the campaign for the U.S. Senate of U.S. Rep Joe Donnelly, he says.
Donnelly, the sole Democratic candidate for his party’s nomination, will be running against either incumbent U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar or his GOP primary opponent, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, in the fall election.
A three-term member of Congress, Donnelly says: “The most important issue is job creation and job opportunities for every Hoosier.”
When Donnelly was asked how that could be achieved, he said, “We go about doing that by making sure every Hoosier gets the best education possible, that we stand up for our country and don’t worry about making the Chinese or anyone else happy. We work to have fair trade.”
In order to compete, the United States and other nations need to make sure Chinese currency is fairly valued, he said.
“They (the Chinese) undercut their currency value by 30 percent because what it does is give them an advantage,” Donnelly said. “So what we’re trying to do is make sure everybody plays by the rules.”
Additionally, the United States needs to work to see there are no trade deals that unfairly give other countries an advantage over the nation. Also, intellectual property needs to be protected so others don’t steal what others have created, he said.
Donnelly said, “By being the most advanced in manufacturing, having the most talented workers and standing up for American workers, we can compete in any industry.
“By being more efficient, by running an operation that uses the most advanced technology, we can compete with anybody.”
Education is important, but the cost of higher education is a challenge. There are, however, ways that can be addressed, he said.
“We have Ivy Tech, which is approximately $3,000 per year,” Donnelly said. “You can finish up at Ivy Tech for a little bit over $10,000. We have the opportunity to receive scholarships, assistance that can be provided, so there are ways to get an excellent college education for a reasonable cost.”
There is, however, a growing gap between those who can easily afford higher education and those with more limited financial resources.
“What we want to try and do is eliminate that as much as possible. You can go to IU or Purdue and still be able to come out with no student debt or very little, because for our own students, we can provide scholarship packages along with in-state tuition itself,” Donnelly said. “There are a number of ways we can approach it.”
Donnelly said he has agreed with President Barack Obama on some occasions, but not always.
“When they are right, I agree with them,” Donnelly said of the Democratic administration. “When they’re not, I don’t.”
Donnelly said an example of when Obama was right was what the administration did for the automobile industry.
“There are 5,000 people building transmissions in the congressional district I represent every day because they decided to help the American automobile industry, and that created jobs not only through our entire state, but through our entire country,” Donnelly said. “I thought that was very, very important to do.
“They were certainly right when they went after Osama bin Laden. As the bumper sticker says, ‘bin Laden is dead and the American automobile industry is alive.’”
Donnelly also supported the health care reform legislation passed during the Obama administration.
“I supported health care because we need to control costs,” Donnelly said. “I thought for seniors it enabled them to get prescriptions at 50 percent off, for those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes it enabled them to get coverage when in many cases that was for the first time in their lives.
“So it did some good things.”
Even if the U.S. Supreme Court rules the health care reforms are unconstitutional, “there is an understanding in America that we have to control health care costs for our economy,” the congressman said.
Donnelly, however, doesn’t agree with the president’s cap-and-trade position.
“I didn’t think that made sense for Indiana,” the Democratic candidate said.
Differences with Lugar
Health care and jobs are areas of key distinctions between Lugar and himself, the incumbent said.
“He (Lugar) supports a Medicare voucher program that in effect privatizes Medicare and puts seniors in danger,” Donnelly said. “Number two, he supports all of those trade deals that shipped jobs overseas.
“I respect Sen. Lugar, but I certainly don’t agree with him on those positions.”
Issues related to jobs will be the deciding issues, the congressman said.
“Who has the best vision, the best plans to create more jobs,” Donnelly said, “to create a great economic future for Indiana.”
Donnelly said there are several things voters might not know about him and that he’d be honored to represent the state as a U.S. senator.
“I take a view that I’m the hired help,” Donnelly said. “I work for the people of our state, and what folks need to know is I’m someone who’s worked hard every day, ran a business, who didn’t spend his life in government, but spent most every year in private business.
“I come from a world where we try to work together, try to make sure that we have an opportunity to succeed, and that’s what I want to see for every Hoosier.”