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Local politics

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    Two long-shot candidates for a seat in Congress say Tuesday’s televised debate offers the best chance for them to lure votes away from Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd.
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  • 3rd District candidates to join in debate Oct. 21
    The three congressional candidates who seek election in Indiana’s 3rd District will debate one another on television Oct. 21.Organizers said Wednesday that the hourlong debate will begin at 7 p.m.

Feds handcuffing growth: Stutzman

Forms, meddling burden business, House rep insists

– Regulations-happy federal bureaucrats are sabotaging businesses, suppressing the economy and supplanting congressional authority, U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman insisted Tuesday.

“The enemy should never be our own government,” Stutzman, R-3rd, told a legislative update program sponsored by the Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce and the Builders Association of Kosciusko and Fulton Counties.

He said agencies that administer policies affecting health insurance, financial services, income taxes, environmental protection, energy and other areas have become “the fourth branch of the government.”

“It doesn’t seem like anything is off-limits anymore, that the feds are trying to find their way into, it seems like, touching everything and finding a way to bring it under their jurisdiction,” he told about 50 people at the chamber and builders association offices.

“I believe we have a weaker Congress today than we’ve ever had,” Stutzman said. “A lot of the decision-making is given over to the agencies, whether it was through the Affordable Care Act or whether it was through Dodd-Frank.”

Dodd-Frank is the consumer protection law that Congress passed in the wake of the U.S. financial crisis of 2008. Stutzman complained Tuesday that it has burdened small banks and financial services companies with piles of paperwork.

Federal agencies “see the compliance officer that you have to hire, or more accountants or more attorneys that businesses have to hire, as job creation. They think that’s creating jobs,” the LaGrange County farmer said. “Those are jobs, but they’re not jobs that are going to help growth and productivity. It’s all compliance, and that takes off the bottom line,” he said.

If Republicans retain their House majority and take control of the Senate away from Democrats in the Nov. 4 election, they are “going to focus on jobs and the economy,” Stutzman predicted. But he said that if Democrats win majorities in both chambers, “you’ll see every anti-business policy passed.”

No one in his audience disputed anything that he said.

Despite his assertions that Democrats and bureaucrats are restraining commerce, and that the health care law discourages the creation of full-time jobs, Stutzman said the number of job openings that participating employers seek to fill at his yearly IPFW job fair has increased from about 800 in 2012 to 1,000 last year to more than 3,000 at this year’s event, which will be Monday.

But area employers have had trouble finding qualified job applicants, Stutzman said.

“We have a jobs problem in northeast Indiana,” he said. “We have a lot of jobs that need to be filled.”

A representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was at Tuesday’s program to present Stutzman with an award for his chamber-friendly voting record.

Stutzman seeks his third full term in the House. He is challenged by Democrat Justin Kuhnle of Kendallville and Libertarian Scott Wise of Columbia City in the heavily Republican 3rd District.