Gloves come off in race for 6th District

By David Skolnick

In the 6th Congressional District race, it’s Round Two between U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican, and Democrat Charlie Wilson.

In 2010, Johnson, of Marietta, running for political office for the first time, beat Wilson, of St. Clairsville, a two-term congressman who also served 10 years in the state Legislature.

The roles are reversed in this election, and though the campaigns sparred in the 2010 race, the gloves are off this time for the congressional seat. The 18-county 6th District includes all of Columbiana County and the southern portion of Mahoning County.

The two disagree on several issues, including the federal stimulus package, outsourcing of jobs, free-trade agreements, the auto bailout, Medicare and the national health care bill, commonly called “Obamacare.”

During his four years in the House, Wilson voted in favor of the stimulus package, the auto bailout and the health care bill. Johnson said he opposes all three.

Wilson said the $831 billion stimulus package helped stabilize the national economy, but Johnson said it was a waste of money, and hundreds of millions of dollars went to create jobs overseas.

Wilson said the auto bailout saved the American automotive industry.

The state would have lost thousands of good-paying jobs without the auto rescue, he said.

Johnson said General Motors “would have survived” as a company without the bailout because company officials would have figured out how to turn a profit.

“We don’t have the money to bail out industries,” Johnson said.

He added that President Barack Obama and Democrats who supported the bailout never gave the industry “a chance to fix” itself.

Johnson supports two key provisions in the health-care bill — not denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions and allowing those under age 26 to stay on their parents’ health-care coverage — but it needs to be repealed.

He said medical decisions should be left to doctors and their patients.

As for the uninsured, the best way to get them insurance is to “get them a job,” Johnson said.

Johnson has voted in favor of a budget bill, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice- presidential nominee, that changes Medicare for those under age 55 into a premium support plan with vouchers, similar to what members of Congress have. It wouldn’t change Medicare for those 55 and older.

Wilson said, however, that Ryan’s budget would require the average senior to pay an additional $6,400 in out-of-pocket expenses.

Johnson voted in favor of free-trade agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia. Johnson said those deals open up more markets for American products.

Wilson said free-trade agreements hurt American manufacturers.

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