Anita Malik praises ‘nationalization of health care,’ says she’s ‘definitely against’ a border wall during AZ-06 debate

PHOENIX — The two candidates running to represent Arizona’s sixth congressional district faced each other on stage Friday evening in what turned out to be one of the most interactive debates so far.

The debate, hosted by the Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Arizona PBS’s Ted Simons, was described by the former as an “open exchange of ideas” and “opportunity for give-and-take” meant to facilitate conversation between the candidates — and it certainly did.

U.S. Representative David Schweikert, the Republican, has represented Arizona’s sixth congressional district since 2013. (He had represented the fifth congressional district from 2011 until redistricting.) Anita Malik, the Democrat, has worked in media and marketing.

One of the first topics of discussion: The tax relief package signed into law in 2017. Schweikert, who voted for the legislation, touted his elevation to the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee, chiefly responsible for overseeing tax policy, is a coveted position on Capitol Hill.

However, the Democrat called Schweikert’s position on the House Ways and Means Committee “a concern.” Malik — a C-suite executive, vice president, and graduate of the private University of Southern California — called herself “part of the working class” and claimed that the legislation is not helping middle-class workers.

“That tax bill is not supporting the middle class,” Malik said, “and that is why I believe the GOP is trying to pass ‘version two’ of that tax bill right now — as a political tool right before the November elections.”

Schweikert countered that wealthy Americans are actually paying a larger portion of income tax revenue now, after its passage.

“Ms. Malik, I’m sorry, but your math is quite wrong,” Schweikert responded. “Under the old tax code, with all of its gimmicks and its loopholes, the top 20 percent of income earners paid 84 percent of all the federal income tax. Today, under the revision, the rewrite, they no longer pay 84. They pay 87.”

Malik also dismissed the economic benefits of tax reform, stating that the “average person” will only receive about $1,000 per year in tax relief and are “not feeling that.”

“The tax reform was actually designed to maximize vitality in the economy,” Schweikert said. “And, look, the early data is pretty impressive right now.”

In Arizona, the legislation allowed Arizona Public Service (APS) to seek a $119 million rate decrease and companies like Cox Communications to free up money for bonuses and permanent pay increases for their employees.

Malik repeatedly attempted to tie Schweikert to the Trump administration, contrasting it with what she described as her independence.

“It is time that we start to put this party politics aside,” she said. “We need to stop using negative campaigning and soundbites.”

However, critics have pointed out that Malik’s partisan rhetoric on the campaign trail — such as claiming about Republicans on Twitter: “Weapons are their priorities not people” — has told a different story.

On stage, Schweikert defended his record and pointed out that he outperformed President Trump in the district by double digits in the general election in 2016.

“We have the healthiest economy right now in the world,” the Republican said. “Our productive gains are finally starting again. The reinvestment in capital equipment, particularly in this community, is wonderful and stunning and actually creates a fairly bright future for us.”

The conversation then turned to health care. The candidates talked about the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and Bernie Sanders’ plan to provide free health care for all.

Asked by her opponent, “Do you support ‘Medicare-for-all’ or nationalization of health care?” Malik answered: “I do.”

“The way I look at getting to a universal system is that we start today,” the Democrat said. “You take Medicare, where it is now, you bring in the public option — something that was stripped out of that original plan, the [Affordable Care Act] — you let people buy in … We don’t have to do it overnight, but we need to get there.”

While Schweikert agreed with the general goal of increasing access to affordable health care, he added: “My fear is that nationalized health care is a horrible way to move that needle.”

The debate touched on issues like trade policy and border security — to which Malik responded, “I’m definitely against the wall” — as well but more or less focused on whether Arizona is doing better today than it was yesterday.

“We’ve come so far,” Schweikert said, “and my desperate hope is we can continue to adopt policies that continue to bring this renaissance to our community.”


Moses Sanchez slams City Hall as “dysfunctional and disconnected” in first mayoral debate

PHOENIX — Four candidates running to become the next mayor of Phoenix participated in a fiery debate Monday night, challenging each other’s qualifications for the city’s highest office.

The debate, hosted by KPNX, touted a packed stage featuring Daniel Valenzuela, Kate Gallego, Nicholas Sarwark, and Moses Sanchez.

Valenzuela and Gallego, the Democrats in the race, are former members of the Phoenix City Council who both resigned earlier this year to run for the Mayor’s Office. Valenzuela works as a firefighter in Glendale. Sarwark is running under the Libertarian Party.

Sanchez, the only Republican, is a 22-year veteran of the United States Navy. If elected, he would be the first Republican mayor that Phoenix has seen in nearly 15 years.

A demonstration took place outside before the debate began protesting Gallego. The protesters’ signs — many of which donned the phrase “corruption” — criticized the former councilwoman’s decision to accept $75,000 in campaign donations “from developers who want to repurpose Chinese Cultural Center, according to the Arizona Republic’s Jessica Boehm.”

The candidates debated water policy, public pensions, light rail, law enforcement, and much more.

Asked by a member of the audience how they would plan ahead and get things done, Valenzuela and Sanchez highlighted their experience bringing people together.

“The mayor, if nothing else, the mayor of the City of Phoenix must be a coalition-builder and a problem-solver,” Valenzuela, the Democrat, responded. “And I’ve done that.”

“I have a lot of experience — 22 years of experience — as a veteran in the Armed Forces leading men and women, both here at home and abroad, on very complex missions,” Sanchez, the Republican, said. “In order to achieve those complex missions, we had to be brilliant at the basics.”

Sanchez continued: “The status quo at City Hall, quite frankly, is dysfunctional and disconnected. There’s a lot of partisan bickering to the point where recently we barely passed a budget … How do you get people to work together if they can’t function?”

Brahm Resnik, the host, pressed Gallego about the “corruption” protest outside and asked about her ties to the developers in question.

“Why would that one company, TrueNorth, give you so much money? What do they want?” Resnik asked. “Why should voters trust your vote after hearing that you received $75,000 from these executives at some point in the process?”

Gallego defended her position on the cultural center. However, the exchange took a strange turn when Gallego compared criticizing the developers to criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We get asked to condemn people all the time, like Vladimir Putin,” she said. “I don’t like Vladimir Putin, but that doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate use of city time to be condemning people.”

The debate then shifted to law enforcement, the funding for which garnered significant scrutiny under former Mayor Greg Stanton as a result of a hiring freeze.

“I apologize that the City Hall and status quo have let you down,” Sanchez, the Republican, said, speaking to Police Chief Jeri Williams and her team in law enforcement. “Our police officers are under-supported and under-staffed … We need to properly man, train, and equip our police officers.”


VIDEO: Ruben Gallego: Democrats will ‘kick the shit out of the Republicans’

PHOENIX — Congressman Ruben Gallego called Republicans “cowards” over the weekend and said that he’s looking forward “kicking the shit out of” them in November.

Gallego, a Democrat, represents the state’s seventh congressional district.

He spoke at a get-out-the-vote event Saturday evening hosted by Maricopa County Democratic Party. At the event, in a video captured by an Arizona Republic reporter, the congressman predicted that his party will win the mid-term elections in a blue wave.

“We are less than 60 days from totally kicking the shit out of the Republicans …” Gallego said, the latter portion of his remark being drowned out by applause from Democrats. “And I’m not just talking in the blue districts … We are going to win and turn this state blue.”

(You can watch the speech here.)

The congressman added that he believes Republicans are “cowards.”

“Every day we are out there, we have to fight,” Gallego continued. “We have to fight ‘cause Republicans are cowards and they’re gonna continue to be cowards.”

The Democrat has gained a reputation for using fiery, combative rhetoric to excite his party’s base.

He called President Donald Trump “a psychopath” earlier this year and recently suggested that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should investigate the president because of his tweets.

Gallego announced last week that he is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2020.