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Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Where 1st District candidates stand on issues

  • Democrat Suzan DelBene and Republican John Koster.

    Democrat Suzan DelBene and Republican John Koster.

Democrat Suzan DelBene and Republican John Koster are battling to be the representative of the newly redrawn 1st District. When the winner of the Nov. 6 election gets to Congress, they will be voting on issues ranging from defense spending to tax cuts. Here's a look at where they stand on those issues and more.

Tax cuts

DelBene: Wants the tax cut for those earning more than $250,000 a year to expire Dec. 31 and the rest of the tax cuts enacted under President Bush made permanent.

Koster: Supports making all Bush-era tax cuts permanent, including for those earning more than $250,000 a year.

Tax reform

DelBene: Backs the Buffett Rule proposed by President Obama, which holds that no household making more than a $1 million a year should pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than what middle-class families pay. Favors simplifying the federal tax code and closing loopholes.

Koster: Supports tax changes proposed in the Jobs Through Growth Act proposed by House Republicans that include reducing the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, closing various unspecified loopholes and simplifying the tax code.

Estate tax

DelBene: Supports current congressional proposal for taxing estates valued at more than $5 million and is willing to consider lowering the threshold to $3.5 million.

Koster: Supports elimination of the estate tax.


DelBene: Wants to restore the Glass Steagal Act to prevent commercial banks from making high-risk investments with deposits of individuals and families. The act, repealed in the 1990s, had kept banks' commercial and investment activities separate.

Koster: Opposes restrictions on the ability of banks to make investments.


DelBene: Supports the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, though says it will need fine-tuning as it is implemented in stages in the coming years.

Koster: Opposes Obamacare and wants it repealed. Says the federal law overreaches but does contain elements that should be considered in a replacement bill, such as protecting people with pre-existing conditions.


DelBene: Supports maintaining Medicare in its current form as a guaranteed benefit. Wants greater attention paid to lowering costs through steps such as creating incentives for quality care and allowing Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs.

Koster: Supports maintaining Medicare as a guaranteed benefit for those currently age 55 and older. Supports "premium support reform," sometimes called a voucher option, for those who will become eligible in the future. This idea calls for the government to pay a defined contribution to whatever health plan is chosen by the individual.

Social Security

DelBene: Supports maintaining Social Security in its current form as a guaranteed benefit.

Koster: Supports maintaining Social Security as a guaranteed benefit for current enrollees and offering future enrollees an option to redirect payroll contributions to a private investment vehicle.


DelBene: Supports comprehensive reform of federal immigration laws, a temporary worker program and a path for undocumented adults to earn citizenship. Supports the DREAM Act, a separate proposal to give undocumented youth a path to citizenship. It requires completion of a college degree or two years of military service.

Koster: Supports comprehensive reform of federal immigration laws and says any consideration of the DREAM Act should be in that process, not as a separate bill. Wants undocumented adults 18 and older deported and directed to re-enter through legal channels. Opposes undocumented youth attending publicly funded colleges. Wants tougher enforcement of the nation's borders.

Coal terminal

DelBene: Undecided on the proposed Cherry Point rail-ship coal terminal near Bellingham. She wants to see results of an analysis of the project's environmental and economic effects before making a decision.

Koster: Supports it but agrees environmental review must be completed and mitigations done before work proceeds.

Charter schools

DelBene: Opposes charter schools and will vote against Initiative 1240.

Koster: Supports charter schools and will vote for Initiative 1240.


DelBene: Supports Initiative 502, which would provide for the licensing, regulation and taxing of marijuana sales to adults.

Koster: Opposes Initiative 502.


DelBene: Supports abortion rights without exception.

Koster: Opposes abortion, including in cases of rape or incest. Where an abortion could save the life of a mother, he says it should be legal.

Same-sex marriage

DelBene: Supports legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples and will vote to approve Referendum 74 to preserve the state's gay marriage law.

Koster: Opposes gay marriage and will vote to reject the referendum. Believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and, as a state lawmaker, co-sponsored the Defense of Marriage Act.


DelBene: Supports President Obama's plan for complete withdrawal in 2014.

Koster: Supports withdrawal when U.S. military leaders determine that Afghanistan security forces are able to keep order in the country. Opposes setting a specific date and says it should occur when U.S. military leaders, not politicians, determine it is time.

Middle East

DelBene: Supports involvement wherever U.S. interests are at risk.

Koster: Opposes sending troops or military resources to countries where there is not a national security interest or where the U.S. is not welcome.

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