Republican Alek Skarlatos has taken some heat from Democratic opponent Peter DeFazio over a statement he made last month that he would oppose another COVID-19 relief package.
Skarlatos attended a Eugene Rotary meeting in September, where he was asked if he would support another pandemic relief bill.
His response was, “In short, no I do not, simply because I don’t believe in increasing the national debt by $2.5 trillion at a time. I mean that’s a huge increase.”
Skarlatos, 27, said concerns over the national debt are a priority for people his age and younger, and he wants to see it reduced not increased.
Skarlatos’ comments at the Rotary meeting drew fire from his Democratic opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio.
DeFazio supports additional COVID-19 relief for individuals and businesses.
“It is both cruel and completely unacceptable that Alek would completely abandon Oregonians whose lives, jobs, and health have been gravely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” DeFazio said in a statement this month.
In an interview with The News-Review on Wednesday, Skarlatos said he would support relief for small businesses, but not for big businesses. He said he would not support another round of federal unemployment checks for individuals.
“There are businesses that are trying to open whose employees will not come back because of the added unemployment benefits,” he said.
And he said he definitely wouldn’t support any package that cost more than $1 trillion. He said COVID-19 relief has already added more than $3 trillion to the debt this year.
“My point is this can’t go on forever,” he said.
He said soon it will be time to decide whether to rack up tens of trillions of dollars worth of debt or to just “figure out a way to open up and let the people get on with their lives.”
“If we do bail everyone out for the next, God knows, year or two years, then think about how much that’s going to add to the national debt,” he said. “And that’s going to be a much larger problem than even short-term economic woes that we are having to deal with currently.”
Skarlatos also said aid for schools would need to be decided on a case-by-case basis since he believes most will have lower costs during the pandemic when classes are online.
But he said he would support aid to hospitals, especially for personal protective equipment. He also said the federal government should work to bring manufacturing, especially of medications and PPE, to the United States.