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Hanabusa, Djou talk about parties' differences

In the last debate before the election, the House candidates talk about values

By Derrick DePledge

LAST UPDATED: 1:36 a.m. HST, Oct 26, 2012

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hana­busa said Thursday that success in Congress depends on how well you get along with your colleagues, but reflecting your political party's values is also important. Former U.S. Rep. Charles Djou said he would work closer to the political center than the extremes.

Hanabusa, a Democrat, and Djou, a Republican, appeared in a one-hour debate for urban Hono­lulu's 1st Congressional District on PBS Hawaii, their last before the election next month.

The forum, moderated by Leslie Wilcox, president and chief executive officer at PBS Hawaii, dwelled mainly on the candidates' political philosophies and how they would fit within a partisan 435-member House now controlled by Republicans.

"Philosophically, there is a difference between being a Demo­crat and a Republican," Hana­busa said. "And we see it very clearly now. That's the difference. It's the core values of what makes a Demo­crat and, I believe, the core values of what makes a Republican. We are parties. We are political parties for a specific purpose."

Djou blamed both political parties for the gridlock in Congress.

"The American people and the people of Hawaii are looking at Congress today and saying, ‘You guys aren't getting anything done,'" he said. "This is a corrosive, poisonous atmosphere over in Washington, D.C. And I think a large part of it is because of a lack of bipartisanship, a failure in the center, and for both parties — Republicans and Demo­crats — (that) have become captured by the hyper-partisan extremes.

"And everything is seen from a hyper-partisan vantage point here."

Djou said that Native Hawaiian federal recognition has not passed in Congress because there was no Republican in the state's congressional delegation to explain to Republican opponents why the issue is important to Hawaii. But Hana­busa said that U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, a senior lawmaker who supports Native Hawaiian recognition, has said that other Republicans do not "understand the indigenous peoples' rights." She said she doubts Djou alone would be able to advance the bill in the House.

Both Hanabusa and Djou said the federal government should reimburse Hawaii and other states and territories for the cost of providing medical care, education and other services to Pacific migrants. Hawaii has estimated that the Compact of Free Association between the United States and Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau costs the state more than $100 million a year.

The U.S., which engaged in Cold War-era nuclear testing in the Pacific, agreed to provide economic assistance to Pacific islanders and allow migration in return for continued military access to the region.

"We need to get reimbursement for the states," Hana­busa said.

Djou suggested that the U.S. should also consider making foreign aid payments to Micronesia rather than waiting until the burden of migration reaches the United States.

"Over the long term, what I would like to see the United States do is revise and amend this Compact of Free Association," he said. "We should still assist the people in the Republic of Micronesia, but the better way to do it is instead of asking the taxpayers of Hawaii to provide the social services for Micronesian citizens, let's have the United States government make a foreign aid payment to the government of Micronesia, and let the government of Micronesia take care of their own citizens.

"That's the right way to do it."

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