Press-Republican

October 4, 2013

Challenger calls Owens part of government shut-down problem

Challenger urges congressman to forego salary

By JOE LoTEMPLIO Press-Republican
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A potential candidate for Congress says that incumbent 21st District Representative Bill Owens is a big part of the government shut-down problem.

Elise Stefanik, a Republican from Willsboro, said in a statement released Wednesday that Owens needs to step up to help solve the problem.

“Once again, Congress has been shamefully negligent in its responsibility to govern. Democrats and Republicans are engaging in political brinkmanship rather than solving the budgetary crisis of the country at the expense of hardworking families. Enough already,” she wrote in her release.

“Congress continues to kick the can down the road on long-term fiscal responsibilities, choosing to engage in political battles over short-term, stop-gap spending bills instead of long-term budget solutions. If Congress can’t get the work done (that) we send them to do, then they shouldn’t get paid, especially if the government shuts down.”

‘POINTS FINGERS’

Stefanik said she would forego her pay if she were in Congress, and Owens should do the same.

“Instead, Congressman Bill Owens continues to point fingers at others to gain political points instead of being a part of the solution. Congressman Owens had four opportunities to put politics aside and vote to fund the government while delaying Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) for hardworking families in the 21st Congressional District and repealing the medical device tax,” she wrote.

“Instead, he put his political party before the people of this district and voted to shut down the government.”

Stefanik said laws like Obamacare, which Owens voted for on the day after he was sworn into office, should apply to everyone.

“No special Obamacare exemptions for members of Congress and no picking and choosing who a law applies to and who it does not,” she said.

“I am running for Congress to bring new ideas and new leadership to represent voters in New York’s 21st Congressional District who deserve results instead of the tired political theater in Washington.”

VOTED WITH REPUBLICANS

Owens’s spokesman Tim Biba said the congressman has consistently called for both parties to work together to find a solution to the government shut-down.

“Congressman Owens has said all along that we need to reopen and responsibly fund the government. This requires both parties to negotiate and work together,” Biba said in a statement.

He noted that Owens has long supported making reasonable changes to the Affordable Care Act, such as repealing the medical-device tax.

He said Owens was one of 17 Democrats who voted with Republicans on an amended stop-gap spending bill that would repeal the medical device tax and, he hoped, prevent a government shutdown.

‘PAYCHECK ASIDE ...’

Biba also said that Owens (D-Plattsburgh) and his colleagues are not exempt from the Affordable Care Act.

Members of Congress and their staff, Biba said, are the only group of employed people who, by law, must purchase health insurance in publicly run exchanges.

He said section 1312 of the bill clearly explains that provision.

When asked if Owens’s would be foregoing his paycheck as Stefanik suggested, Biba said the congressman’s paycheck was the “least of his worries right now.”

“Congressman Owens is focused on how we can re-open the government for his constituents and will deal with this issue (pay question) when that is accomplished,” Biba said.

‘SHOULD COME CLEAN’

Stefanik was also pressured on her position on the shutdown, as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted her in a news release, saying she refused to say how she would have voted on the shutdown.

“Elise Stefanik kicked off her campaign with an irresponsible message: Do as I say, not as I do. Stefanik is staying silent on her policy position, but that hasn’t stopped her from lobbing bombs at her opponent for voting to keep the government open, without ideological strings attached,” Marc Brumer of the DCCC, said in a news release.

“North Country voters want a leader who can stand by their convictions, and they won’t be fooled by Elise Stefanik’s empty rhetoric or the political tactics she honed during her years working as a career political operative in Washington.”

Stefanik worked in President George W. Bush’s administration in Washington.

“If Elise Stefanik is serious about her candidacy, then she should come clean and admit that she would have voted for these reckless measures that shut down the government,” Brumer said.

Stefanik did not respond to a request from the Press-Republican to explain her position.

Email Joe LoTemplio:jlotemplio@pressrepublican.com