Student loans

Alaska Congressional Debate: Peltola, Palin, Begich and Bye clash over inflation, gas prices and student loans

Wednesday night’s Alaska congressional debate gave voters a chance to hear from Congresswoman Mary Peltola and her former challengers Governor Sarah Palin, Nick Begich III and Libertarian Chris Bye.

The candidates were each given 45 seconds to address voter concerns including record inflation, gasoline prices and the distribution of salmon – a key issue specific to Alaska Fisheries.

Palin kicked off the debate by criticizing the Biden administration for not doing enough to control inflation. She also echoed her “Drill baby, drill” line as she explained how rising gas prices are affecting everyday Americans.

U.S. Representative Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, speaks in support of the people of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1547 in Anchorage, Alaska, September 17, 2022.
(PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

“Inflation is at its highest in 40 years and we are in a recession. It’s a shame that our president and his [Democratic] The party refuses to acknowledge that we are suffering from a recession,” Palin noted.

WHAT IS RANKING VOTING, THE NEW VOTING PROCESS USED IN ALASKA?

“We gotta drill baby, drill,” she added, “Energy costs are driving inflation. Energy costs affect everything we do in America [and] everything we consume.”

She also said that the United States should prosecute ““clean, domestic” oil rather than relying on Venezuela or Russia, which she called “dirty and dangerous sources.”

Peltola, a Democrat, admitted the United States was in a recession and said we had “astronomically high inflation rates across the country.”

“This is especially true in Alaska when you add shipping costs to that,” the congresswoman added.

Begich noted that inflation “is hurting working families,” but suggested the Biden administration doesn’t understand how to fix it.

“If you want to fix the problem, you have to understand the root cause of the problem,” he said. “The root cause of inflation today it’s government spending and it’s funded by a Federal Reserve that has built a balance sheet of $9 trillion.”

DALLAS, TEXAS, UNITED STATES - 08/2022/04: Sarah Palin conducts an interview during the Texas 2022 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) at the Hilton Anatole.

DALLAS, TEXAS, UNITED STATES – 08/2022/04: Sarah Palin conducts an interview during the Texas 2022 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) at the Hilton Anatole.
(Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“If we really want to get inflation under control, we have to start producing again. We also have to make sure that public spending is brought under control, that the government is put back in its lane and that the private sector is not vilified because it has been under the Democrats and the Biden administration.”

Bye, who has described himself as a “political outsider,” said Alaskan families who have to endure inflation are also “stuck between federal bureaucracy and federal regulations.”

He added: “The dysfunctional energy policy that this administration has imposed on us has been an inflationary factor.”

Candidates were also asked how they would maintain sustainable fishing in Alaska.

“We have to take precautionary management. We can’t allow metric tons of bycatch,” Peltola said. “It led to a devastating collapse in not only salmon but also halibut and now we are seeing it in the crab industry as well.”

FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA. SARAH PALIN CUTS RANKING VOTE AFTER ELECTION LOSS

She also advocated for a partnership between state and federal offices.

Conversely, Palin said the federal government lacks the resources to enforce bycatch laws and violators go unpunished.

“We have to stop these people who are carrying out illegal activities. Take their boat, take their equipment, their permits and we start teaching them a lesson,” added the former governor.

Sarah Palin, candidate for the United States House of Representatives, speaks on stage during a "save america" rally in front of former US President Donald Trump in Anchorage, Alaska on July 9, 2022.

U.S. House of Representatives candidate Sarah Palin speaks on stage during a ‘Save America’ rally in front of former U.S. President Donald Trump in Anchorage, Alaska on July 9, 2022.
(PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

The candidates were also asked about political divisions in the United States and whether they were ruining American democracy.

“It’s absolutely a travesty and unfortunately both sides are on the same team,” Bye said. “That’s why I’m running. I’m tired of both political parties ruining our lives and it’s clear you can’t trust either of them.”

Later in the debate, the moderators asked questions about the coronavirus pandemic, the controversy surrounding the vaccine, and what America can do to prepare for the next pandemic.

“What we do for the next one is we make sure that [Dr. Anthony] Fauci is not the head of the CDC,” Palin replied. “We are depoliticizing the agency that made politics. The whole COVID crisis was more about control than it was actually about a virus.”

ANCHORAGE, AK -- Thursday, May 12, 2022: Nick Begich, pictured at the Resource Industry Business Organizations Congressional Candidates Forum.

ANCHORAGE, AK — Thursday, May 12, 2022: Nick Begich, pictured at the Resource Industry Business Organizations Congressional Candidates Forum.
(Ash Adams for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“We saw that when those of us stood up and spoke up and said things like, ‘No, I’m not going to get this experimental immunization,'” Palin said.

She added: “Those who lost opportunities, especially those in the military who were kicked out for exercising their right and responsibility to decide what they were going to put in their bodies, they need to be reinstated with a backlog. salary.”

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Rep. Peltola said the coronavirus “was and is a health pandemic” and suggested that those who disagreed with its seriousness should be penalized.

“The fact that across America people can go on TV, radio, print and online and tell lies and there are no repercussions, I think the fact to be able to spread lies really caused a lot of division on things that should be opened up and closed the case,” Peltola said, “like whether or not we have a pandemic.”

Candidates then took part in a whirlwind round, where they had 15 seconds to answer yes or no on issues such as restrictions on guns, debt relief for student loan recipients and whether the government should be able to impose vaccinations.

Left to right: Nick Begich, Alaska GOP House candidate, Sarah Palin, Alaska GOP House candidate, and Mary Peltola, Alaska Democrat House candidate.

Left to right: Nick Begich, Alaska GOP House candidate, Sarah Palin, Alaska GOP House candidate, and Mary Peltola, Alaska Democrat House candidate.
(Brandon Bell, Mary Peltola Campaign, Ash Adams for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Begich called Biden’s student loan forgiveness proposal “unfair and immoral.”

Bye also replied, “No, no no, just no. Ok, then.”

Pelosi also said she was “absolutely” against it and called it “illegal.” She did, however, agree with her Democratic opposition that if the Biden Administration had to go ahead with the plan, then it should include participants from vocational schools.

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Peltola became the first Alaskan to serve in Congress and the first woman to hold the state seat after winning the special general election in August to serve the remainder of former Rep. Don Young’s term. in Congress.

Wednesday’s debate was hosted by Alaska’s News Source, Alaska Public Media and KTOO.

It was moderated by Alaska Public Media News Director Lori Townsend and Alaska News Source Editor Mike Ross.