These are troubled times for the United States. That makes Northwest Indiana's choice in the 1st District U.S. House all the more important.
Republican Joel Phelps faces a difficult task in trying to oust the long-time incumbent Pete Visclosky, who has done much for his district.
"He's the kind of friend who calls you on your birthday. He's not the kind of guy who helps you move," Phelps said, referring to his opponent. To the contrary, Democrat Visclosky has helped the region move forward in multiple ways.
Visclosky's Marquette Plan is reshaping Northwest Indiana's lakefront, reclaiming land for public use.
Visclosky also has been a champion of public transportation. He sees the wisdom of extending passenger rail services, which will not only transport workers and others to Chicago but also will spur development along the route.
In discussing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Phelps said while some of the provisions are good — including extending coverage to include young adults and forbidding insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions — he favors killing it. "I honestly think the best thing we could do is kill it and establish a baseline," Phelps said.
"If you don't like the health care bill, make it better," Visclosky said. He wanted to give the federal government the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices, for example.
The candidates' views on the national debt might be surprising. Visclosky wants a long-term solution. "Something's got to give," he said. Phelps talks of the federal government trying to do too much, but he also talks about spending a lot of federal money in the district. "I don't intend to balance the budget on the back of Northwest Indiana," Phelps said.
The reality is that addressing problems like the national debt will take shared sacrifice, both in reduced spending and in additional taxes. Visclosky understands this.
Phelps is a quick study, the best Republican candidate Visclosky has faced in years, but Visclosky has an excellent record of service to the district. Phelps should remain in the public arena, perhaps running for another office before trying to tackle the nation's problems.
We endorse Visclosky.