GOFFSTOWN — The Concord Coalition and 20/20 Vision invited former Congressman John Delaney (D-Md.) and Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) on Thursday to a discussion on economic issues at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics.
Hosted by NPR Chief Economics Correspondent Scott Horsley, both candidates fielded questions on various economic topics and provided the direct and indirect solutions to economic problems facing the nation.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was also scheduled to take part in the forum, but withdrew from the Democratic field on Wednesday evening.
Outside of Ryan’s early support of tougher action against China’s trade practices, both candidates chastised President Donald Trump’s economic policies, with Ryan adding Trump’s tariff policies were a “silly game” that hurt farmers and did not help the U.S. outcompete China.
Neither candidate mentioned any of the other Democratic candidates by name, but Delaney criticized a recently released policy he said was from a a competitor that he would not name that would prohibit a trade deal with Germany due to their subsidies for fossil fuels in their attempts to ween themselves from reliance on Russian energy.
“First of all, the United States would not meet that standard,” he said. “Secondly, Germany gets 35 percent of their natural gas from Russia, and they are vulnerable from that, and our response to that is ’No trade deal with the United States,’ that is terrible policy.”
That point came as a segue where Delaney said he favored the United States entering into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, believing that economic alliance and others with responsible trading partners help Americans at home.
Ryan’s primary foreign policy statement came in the form of immigration reform, believing that bipartisan solutions that brought greater border security, pathways to citizenship and helping to stabilize Central American countries would provide an economic boon.
He shared his belief that this growth would come not just from bringing current undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and making them pay taxes and giving them a chance to succeed in society, but also from foreign college students from elite universities seeking to become entrepreneurs in the U.S., who now are forced home once their visas expire.
Both candidates talked about the issue of health care’s impact on the economy, with both candidates endorsing different versions of increased health-care access for Americans.
Delaney endorsed a tax on pharmaceutical companies who charge foreign customers less than American customers on prescription drugs, also hoping to create a life-long version of Medicare with a tax credit option if they chose to seek private insurance or obtained insurance through an employer.
Ryan eschewed forcing solutions from Washington, instead preferring to drop the current Medicare eligibility age from 64 to 50 and focus on reducing costs through addressing diseases that can be prevented like diabetes.
He also noted that preventable diseases currently account for a third of overall health-care costs in the country and those costs can be addressed more cheaply by addressing related matters like addressing America’s agricultural distribution system and how it impacts nutrition.
Ryan also talked extensively about infrastructure improvements, touting work he has done in his northeast Ohio congressional district.
Along with temporary income insurance for manufacturing workers retraining into new sectors, Ryan also talked about the need to help communities invest in quality of life improvements along with infrastructure that pulls in new employers.
“You can have the best tech jobs in the world, but nobody will move to a town where there’s nothing to do,” he said.