Sunday, October 24, 2010

Economics, Budget Chief Concerns In Congressional Debate

Waco - Rep. Chet Edwards and his challenger Bill Flores hammered at each others' record on economics and the budget in a debate televised by KXXV-ABC.

The economic stimulus bill and Social Security reform received the most attention from both candidates.

Mr. Edwards insisted that he has voted independently of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's agenda most of the time. “I voted with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” he said in rebuttal to harsh criticism from Mr. Flores.

In fact, when asked what he disliked the most about the grueling campaign season, he mentioned having been characterized as voting with Mrs. Pelosi 96% of the time. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the economy was in a free fall.” He voted their line and received the endorsement of the chamber, the Farm Bureau and other conservative business groups, he said.

The economic stimulus bill gave most American families a $1,600 tax cut, Mr. Edwards reminded listeners.

Mr. Flores differed, saying “Most of those people don't pay taxes. What they got was a welfare check.” Mr. Edwards accused his opponent of being in favor of a tax cut for persons who earn more than $1 million each year. Mr. Flores seemed to ignore the allegation. He said nothing much about it.

His chief objection to characterizations of his personality was “To have me somehow labeled as a pariah is troubling to me. This has been a fairly nasty campaign and it doesn't have to be that way.”

Though Mr. Flores repeatedly denied being for a privatization of Social Security, Mr. Edwards continued to point out that he is on record as supporting private accounts for individuals to manage their benefits accruing in the Social Security Trust Fund.

That could take up to $2 trillion out of the national economy over the next 10 years, Mr. Edwards said, and would raise the deficit by an equal amount.

Mr. Flores steadily denied ever having proposed any privatization of Social Security throughout the debate. It was an area to which the questioners and the candidates returned many times during the hour.

At one point, Mr. Edwards said “I don't think we ought to balance our budget on the backs of elderly citizens.”

Mr. Flores said the way to fix the Social Security system is to put people back to work. He continued to deny he ever proposed or supported raising the eligibility age for benefits to 70.

On health care reform, Mr. Edwards reminded listeners that “I voted against health care reform twice.”

Mr. Flores countered by saying the first time the bill came to the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Edwards voted to allow the vote to go forward.

There is no way to fix the so-called ObamaCare law, he said. The only thing to do is repeal the entire package.

Mr. Edwards called for saving the provisions that would eliminate the right of health insurance carriers to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

In the matter of border security, Mr. Flores told viewers that “We took Iran in two weeks. We have the capability to secure our borders.”

Mr. Edwards took a more moderate view, saying “If most people couldn't find a job when they got here, they wouldn't come here in the first place.” He called for an employer verification program to make sure that immigrants have the right to work and live in the nation before they are ever hired.

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