Archive for the ‘debate’ Tag
Democratic challenger Francine Busby took to the stage last night to take a few proverbial swings at Republican incumbent Congressman Brian Bilbray in their first and only scheduled debate. A standing room only, bitterly partisan crowd gathered in the Del Norte High School Performing Arts Center in 4S Ranch to see the event and cheer on their candidate. It was a scene more befitting a highly charged college basketball game than a political debate, with only slightly less decorum than a kindergarten classroom.
It was a microcosm of just how sharply divided this county, and country, really are.
Busby wasted no time in jabbing at her Republican opponent, chiding him for representing the interests of lobbyist and big business instead of the people who elected him. Throughout the night, she repeatedly brought up the highly controversial Congressional Cigar Association, the lobbying front established by Bilbray that hosts get-togethers for members of Congress and their staffers to mingle with the lobbyists who fund it.
“The Congressional Cigar Association is a betrayal of the trust of the people, and shows the lack of integrity on Mr. Bilbray’s part,” Busby said. “He claims to support small business, yet he voted against tax breaks for small business. He voted against laws to increase lending to small businesses. He voted against financial reform. He voted to loosen restrictions on concealed weapons in school zones.”
Bilbray, for his part, tried to hit at the core issues of the day. “Currently one in ten San Diegans is unemployed. One out of every three dollars spent in Washington is borrowed.”
When queried by moderator Kent Davy, Editor of the North County Times, about the Bush tax cuts, whether to extend them or let them expire, and how they should be paid for if extended, Bilbray stuck to the Republican script: “It won’t be a tax cut, but it will be a tax increase if they expire. We should maintain the rates we have in place.”
“We’re not talking about a revenue problem. We have a spending problem,” Bilbray said. However, Bilbray did not enumerate what cuts he would like to see, and how much it would save, and did not present any plan to pay for them.
“Four tax cuts have created an enormous debt,” Busby began. “We have a growing deficit, and our economy is in a recession.”
The current deficit, she said, was “caused by the wars and the Bush tax cuts.”
Busby voiced her support for the Democrat’s plan to maintain the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, but allow them to expire for the top 2% of earners. “We want infrastructure investments. We want our taxes invested in our communities.”
On the subject of immigration, a particular hot button for Bilbray, and specifically the DREAM Act: “The DREAM Act is a cynical way of running a new amnesty program through. It eliminates all immigration standards, and will further harm the working class.”
Busby, not surprisingly, took a different stance: “Children brought here by immigrants did not commit a crime.” She says she supports the DREAM Act, which provides a path to legal status for those young people who attend a four year college or university for at least two years, or serve two years in the military.
“We must take a comprehensive approach to immigration reform,” Busby said, for which she was loudly booed by the Bilbray supporters in the audience.
She also reminded the audience that Bilbray was a paid lobbyist to the tune of over $300,000 for the anti-immigration organization FAIR, which has been deemed as an anti-immigrant “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And while Bilbray does not support the concept of comprehensive reform, he does tout the implementation of an E-Verify system to aid employers in identifying those workers here legally.
On the subject of campaign finance reform, Bilbray expressed “concern” about the recent Supreme Court ruling on the “Citizens United” case, which for the first time allows corporate interests to put their direct financial support behind a candidate or political cause without requiring the source of the funds to be identified.
“We should require full disclosure in our political campaigns,” Bilbray said. “I was one of the seven members of Congress to work on campaign finance laws.”
Citizens United “undermines our democracy,” Busby said. She then pointed out that Bilbray chose not to vote for campaign finance disclosure. “Mr. Bilbray opened the back door for lobbyists to come in” and influence our political system, referring to Bilbray’s Congressional Cigar Association. “Is your member of Congress voting for you?”
Davy, the moderator, then turned to the topic of jobs and the economy, saying that the stimulus bill did not deliver many jobs.
“I’m glad you pointed out that the stimulus didn’t work,” Bilbray answered. “Of the stimulus, only 3 ½ % went to roads. But here’s where we can work together: There is $1 trillion in private capital overseas that is waiting to be invested. We need do everything we can to bring that money here to the U.S.”
“The purpose of the stimulus bill was to stop us from falling into another Great Depression, and for that IT WORKED!” declared Busby. “There is $37 billion in federal funding here in San Diego County, and that creates jobs.”
“There is a clear decision for voters to make. Mrs. Busby wants Washington to have tax money more than she wants San Diegans to have jobs,” Bilbray jabbed.
Mr. Bilbray “talks a lot about jobs and spending, but he voted against small business tax cuts, and he voted against greater access to loans,” Busby countered.
On the subject of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the government’s role in single sex marriage, Bilbray said he voted against pushing it (DADT) aside. “We have to let the military complete its study on the effects of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. We have to let them decide what’s in their best interests.”
“Government has historically been involved in defining marriage in order to protect the children who are perceived to be the issue. Utah statehood was held up over the definition of marriage.”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is about the Constitution. We need to let people serve their country who want to serve. Tens of thousands of LGBT have served with honor, dignity, and courage, and then have been asked to leave,” Busby said. “We demand equal rights in this country, and Congress has no business legislating against gay marriage.”
“We must respect individual and personal rights. People should be able to serve in the military and live with who they want,” she continued.
On gun control, Bilbray lamented the fact that the First Amendment is given so much reverence, but the Second Amendment is not treated with the same weight. “We need to be able to protect our children. My stance on gun rights is a good example of why law enforcement has so strongly endorsed me.”
“I respect the Second Amendment,” Busby told the audience. “But we must have certain restrictions. There should be no concealed weapons allowed in school zones. And there’s no reason for us to allow assault weapons on our streets.” The Founding Fathers, Busby pointed out, did not have assault weapons whose sole purpose is to kill many people in a short amount of time in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment.
Busby repeatedly reminded the audience of San Diego County’s position to become a key player in the race to develop clean energy, and her desire to promote San Diego as the hub for clean tech/bio tech development, while pointing to the Koch brothers, owners of the largest privately owned oil company in the country, who have thrown their support behind Bilbray.
On health care reform, Bilbray chided Democrats in Congress for pushing through a bill without knowing what is in the bill. “We need to bring back the entire bill to the floor, and expose it so that everyone can see what’s in it,” he said. “And we need to empower individuals to buy insurance policies across state lines.” (Which the health care bill does, while defining the minimum levels of coverage to be provided.) “The CBO,” Bilbray continued, “calls this bill a major expense.”
“The goal is to have everyone have access to affordable, quality health care in this country. And we’ve taken the first step toward that goal.” The health care bill is not perfect, Busby said, but it certainly points us in the right direction.
It was a highly contentious evening that appeared to further entrench both sides behind their candidates. And the contrast between the two sides could not have been more clear, particularly at the mention of off-shore drilling in California, which the Republican partisans and Bilbray supporters cheered, and Busby and her supporters vehemently oppose.
The debate served to settle very little. There was very little agreement between the two sides, and the contrasts could not have been more distinct. One thing was very apparent to those in attendance: Passions are running very high this election season, and there is a lot at stake for San Diego County and the United States a whole.
Last night California got its first—and only—scheduled chance to see its 2010 Senatorial candidates square off in a debate. Incumbent Barbara Boxer, seeking a fourth term as the Junior Senator from California, met her Republican opponent and harsh critic, millionaire Carly Fiorina at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. It was our first, and likely our last, opportunity to compare the two candidates’ positions on the issues that will matter most to Californians now, in these deeply turbulent economic times, and well into the future.
The race for the coveted Senate seat was hardly settled, but one thing was clear: There is precious little agreement between the two candidates. It was also clear that one candidate was polished and prepared to tackle the issues, while the other was long on rhetoric and short on solutions to our state’s and nation’s problems. The debate certainly demonstrated that the candidates have sharply divergent ideas on how to improve California’s plight.
Fiorina opened the debate by immediately blaming Boxer for our national debt and the state’s unemployment figures, which are disturbingly high. However, throughout the night, Fiorina failed to delineate just exactly what she would do, what she would support other than more tax cuts for the wealthy, that would improve the California economy and bring more jobs to the state. She vilified Boxer for not supporting tax cuts for small businesses, when in fact, as Boxer pointed out, that’s exactly what she supported, and what was included in the stimulus bill that she supported.
Fiorina, Boxer said, opposed the bills in the Senate that would provide tax breaks for small businesses. And she opposed the jobs bill that saved the jobs of the 16,500 teachers in California who, because of severe budget cuts, had received their “pink slips” in the mail. “She called the bill to save teachers’ jobs ‘disgraceful,’” criticized Boxer.
While Fiorina touted tax break after tax break after tax break, Boxer countered that she had stopped tax breaks for companies that shipped jobs overseas, and supported giving tax breaks to small businesses who hire new employees, specifically pointing to the HIRE (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment) Act, which Fiornia opposed. The HIRE Act includes tax incentives and credits, social security exemptions, and other incentives to encourage businesses to hire more workers.
The most contentious issue of the night was Fiorina’s record while serving as the CEO of Hewlett Packard. Fiorina was angered that “a great American company like HP” was being dragged into this debate, and criticized Boxer for using it as a “political football.” The trouble is that Fiorina’s entire campaign platform and the credentials she brandishes as her qualifications for office are based solely on her record at HP. The fact that as CEO, Fiorina shipped 30,000 HP jobs overseas became one of the key points of the evening.
The debate format called for pre-recorded questions submitted from the general public to be used. One such questioner was a retired Hewlett Packard employee who worked at the company during Fiorina’s tenure. He questioned Fiorina on her record of sending jobs to China, and wanted to know what her plans were to bring jobs back to California.
Fiorina’s responded saying “Any job can go anywhere.” And she’s right. But that doesn’t mean that businesses should be so eager to send those jobs elsewhere.
California, Fiorina says, is seeing increased unemployment because we are “destroying jobs.” Her solutions included taking the example of China, Texas, and Brazil, who all offer business tax credits. She called for a two year payroll tax holiday for businesses who hire new employees.
She lamented that the United States currently ranks 17th in the world in innovation, and supports providing incentives for research and development. She did not, however, provide any details on what kinds of incentives she would like to see, other than tax cuts.
Boxer expressed her support for tax breaks for small businesses, but prefers a more targeted approach: The idea is to close tax loopholes and make sure that those incentives are indeed going to companies that are working to create jobs at home and are putting those tax breaks to use locally, and to provide tax relief for specific performance. The stimulus bills she supported in the Senate do just that, she says.
On the issue of gay marriage, it was pointed out that gay couples are denied 1000 federal rights that are afforded to traditional married couples. Fiorina was asked if gay couples should receive the same rights: “Marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Boxer: “The only way to get equal rights is through marriage equality.”
On Prop 8, Fiorina was critical of the recent court decision against it. “The voters were clear on Prop 8,” she said, lamenting that the decision of the voters was “overturned by a single judge.” Boxer asserted that the courts are often called upon to decide the constitutionality of voter enacted decisions, and this case is no different.
Immigration reform, said Boxer, is an economic issue, pointing to a USC study that determined that many of our economic woes are tied to our lack of a comprehensive immigration policy. Fiorina, said Boxer, calls comprehensive immigration reform “a distraction.” And while she opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants, Fiorina says she does support the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship to young people who attend college or serve in the military.
On abortion, Boxer may have struck the most lethal blow of the debate, pointing out that if Fiorina’s views prevailed, suddenly many women and doctors would be considered criminals. She also criticized the hypocrisy of the Republican stance, pointing to the mantra of keeping government out of our personal lives, yet their stand on abortion necessarily requires the restriction of personal choice.
The choice in November, in my mind, comes down to a rather simple choice: An anti-government candidate who supports fewer regulations for businesses and prefers that we do nothing to combat global warming (“California acting alone will have no effect”), whose platform is centered around big corporations and billionaires, or a candidate who seeks responsible business practices, seeks to promote California as a leader in clean energy technology, and whose platform is based more on people rather than corporate interests.
Watch the entire debate here.