Patty Murray and Dino Rossi continued their war of words over tax cuts, federal spending and health care Sunday as they debated a second and final time before next month’s election.
Murray and other Democrats are about to drive the country over a financial cliff, Rossi warned. Rossi and other Republicans want to take the country back to the failed polices of the Bush administration, Murray said.
Sitting side by side on the set of Seattle television station KOMO, the two candidates for Washington’s Senate seat remained far apart on the best way to improve the economy and increase jobs.
Rossi’s answer: Get rid of the uncertainty over what government’s going to do next, cancel expensive health care reform rules, and continue all the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003. Businesses “don’t need Sen. Murray’s bailouts and they don’t need her stimulus,” he said. “Jobs do not come from government.”
Stimulus funds are creating jobs, Murray shot back, ticking off a list of West Side projects, from Seattle road projects to strengthening a dam on the Green River, that are paying private contractors to hire workers. “Mr. Rossi’s going to give them a pink slip.”
Rossi repeatedly criticized Murray for adding “earmarks” to legislation to spend money on local projects. Murray, who is seeking her fourth term, never used the term earmark, instead defending the allocations as directed federal investments.
Given a chance to ask each other a question, Murray asked how Rossi would pay for extending tax cuts to those making more than $200,000 a year. He responded by criticizing her for leaving Congress without approving any tax cuts, adding: “Sen. Murray is going to continue to raise your taxes.”
Later, she chided him: “You didn’t go anywhere near answering my question.”
He replied: “I answered your question, but not with your answer.”
Sometimes they both declined to answer a question posed by the KOMO journalists, such as whether they’d vote to raise the retirement age for Social Security. Have to wait for a commission report, both said.
Asked what painful cuts they’d be willing to make to reduce the budget, Rossi again mentioned earmarks. Put everything on the table, said Murray.
One of their sharpest disagreements was on immigration policy and whether children of illegal immigrants who have been in the country for years should have a path to citizenship. Rossi said he hadn’t heard a good solution yet for that problem, but he suggested U.S. immigration policy begins with “a high fence and a tall gate” to secure the southern border.
Murray said she supported legislation that would put those children on a path to citizenship if they go to college or join the military. “A tall fence and a high gate isn’t going to help us on the northern border. We need more border patrol,” she added.
Rossi questioned whether Murray could have read the entire 2,600 pages of the health care reform bill that passed earlier this year and asked her to elaborate on a comment in Thursday night’s Spokane debate that she authored part of it.
Was that the part that calls for fines for people who don’t buy health insurance, tax increases to pay for it or more bureaucrats to administer it? Rossi asked.
Glad you asked, Murray replied, saying she wrote the section to expand programs for family doctors in medical schools.