Kerrey, Fischer head to home stretch in final debate
October 1st, 2012
Lincoln, NE – Republican Deb Fischer and Democrat Bob Kerrey came together for their third and final debate under the studio lights at NET in Lincoln on Monday night.
The candidates covered some familiar territory on budget cuts and health care reform as they continued to challenge each otherâ€™s claim to have the right stuff to change Washington.
It didnâ€™t take long for Kerrey, the former U.S. Senator and Nebraska governor, to challenge Fischer on her support of a balanced budget amendment. Fischer, a state senator from Valentine, Neb., said she supports changing the Constitution to limit government spending and reduce the national debt.
Watch the full debate from NET News:
â€œToday, itâ€™s $16 trillion,â€ she said. â€œAnd Ronald Reagan said we canâ€™t do it with a carrot anymore. Itâ€™s going to take a stick, and that stick is a balanced budget amendment. And I can tell you at $16 trillion, we need a big stick.â€
Kerrey suggested that when it comes to the budget, Fischerâ€™s more interested in making cuts than considering the consequences. He said her budget trims would be paid for by cutting everything from Medicare to national security.
â€œThe balanced budget proposal that she has is a trillion dollarsâ€™ worth of cuts,â€ he said. â€œIt will increase unemployment in Nebraska (by) 50 percent. It will break our commitments to seniors. It will break the obligation that we have to veterans. It will weaken our military.â€
Fischer stood by the idea of spending limits, saying other regulatory and tax reforms – like lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 to 24 percent – would spur economic growth and create enough revenue to cushion the blow of government cuts.
â€œItâ€™s an important part to cut the spending, but you have to grow an economy if youâ€™re going to create jobs, if youâ€™re going to create those opportunities,â€ she said. â€œAnd I believe it can be done. I think my view of the future is more positive than yours because you look at cutting spending, but then you look at raising taxes.”
â€œIâ€™m very optimistic about our future. I have no reason to be anything but optimistic and confident about our future,â€ he said. â€œBut when you cut a trillion dollars because you donâ€™t want to raise taxes on people (with) over a million (dollars per year in income), because you donâ€™t want tax simplification to produce some additional revenue – when you do it with cuts along it will increase unemployment in Nebraska and make it impossible to keep our commitments to seniors and veterans.â€
Fischer and Kerrey also returned to their different views on health care reform; Fischer said she wants to see the Affordable Care Act repealed and replaced.
â€œPreexisting conditions, you know, visiting with Nebraskans, that is very important that we are able to address that. And I believe the U.S. Senate will come together and address it,â€ she said. â€œBut what I will tell you is that we wonâ€™t address it by stealing over $700 billion from Medicare.â€
Fischer was referring to savings that will come from reduced payments to hospitals and insurance companies under the health care law. The same proposal is part of the House budget written by Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee.
Kerrey, on the other hand, said he supports the health care law and the payment reductions. He said they make Medicare last a little longer.
â€œThe problem is, under her proposal, Medicare will be insolvent in 2016,â€ he said, referring to Fischer. â€œUnder current law it wonâ€™t be insolvent until 2024. Still a big enough problem. Congress didnâ€™t steal money – it cut spending.â€
On foreign policy, both Fischer and Kerrey said President Obama should have gone to Congress before taking military actions such as enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya during that nationâ€™s revolution.
Fischer also said that the Obama administration has lacked a clear policy when it comes to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
â€œThereâ€™s a lack of leadership. Thereâ€™s a lack of clarity,â€ she said. â€œI want America to remain a stabilizing force in the world. We need to have that. But with a lack of leadership, a lack of clarification, when our allies donâ€™t know what weâ€™re doing, when our foes challenge us, weâ€™ve lost that.â€
Kerrey warned that military action could turn popular support within Iran against the United States.
â€œThere are 80 million people in Iran. And the day after we were attacked on 9/11, there were two countries where on the street there wasnâ€™t a celebration,â€ he said. â€œOne was Israel and the other was Iran. The people like us. The mullahs donâ€™t, but the people do. And if weâ€™re not careful, with military action, weâ€™ll turn the people against us, as well.â€
A recent Omaha World Herald poll continues to give Fischer the edge over Kerrey in the Senate race. It shows her lead has narrowed, but sheâ€™s still ahead by 16 points with five weeks of campaigning left. If Fischer holds on and wins the seat, held by retiring Democrat Ben Nelson, it would be an important victory for Republicans.
Comments are closed.