Democrat David Gill and Republican Rodney Davis shared the same stage for their debate Wednesday evening, but they're clearly not living in the same reality. Let's review a few issues.
Debt and Taxes:
Rodney Davis started the debate by saying his top issue is cutting the national debt. His plan for doing so is to cut taxes. Seriously. He wants to reduce revenue to bring down the debt. He doesn't believe in that arithmetic thing Bill Clinton was talking about.
Later in the debate a student question asked the obvious. Are spending cuts alone without a tax increase enough to deal with the debt, and what, specifically, would you cut from the budget?
Davis again repeated the magical debt-reducing tax cut theory that worked so well for George W. Bush. He didn't name any specific spending cuts he would support. He told the university audience that his unspecified spending cuts would free up more money to spend on student financial aid for college.
In a single debate, Davis claimed that everyone will get tax cuts, that tax cuts will reduce the deficit, that only things you don't like will be cut from the budget, and all the spending you do like will still be increased. Also, everyone gets a unicorn that farts glitter.
David Gill said he supports ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, but does not support any tax increase on the middle class. Unlike Davis, he named something specific he would cut. Gill thinks we should already be out of Afghanistan and that military spending can be cut as we withdrawal.
Gill's plan of proposing specific cuts in a bloated part of the budget, and expiring the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy could be described as a reality-based strategy to cutting the debt. Counting on trickle-down tax cuts to magically grow the economy, as Davis suggests, is exactly how we got the debts of the Reagan and Bush years.
Energy and Climate Change:
The moderators didn't bring up climate change, but David Gill did twice. First, he brought up the droughts that hit farmers hard this year and spoke about the need to keep things from getting even worse due to climate change. He later said he takes a science-based approach to the issue, and that it's a real problem we need to deal with.
Gill says that if we're going to subsidize energy sources that it should be clean tech development rather than subsidies going to oil and dirty energy. He brought up the dirty industry dollars going to the Davis campaign several times, including donations from Exxon, Exelon, and the Koch brothers.
Davis debated both Gill and his own flip-flopping positions on energy. First, he said he opposed federal support to clean energy projects like Solyndra. When asked directly about the clean energy tax credit for wind, he said he supported it, even though he opposed them just last week. Later he went back to attacking federal spending for clean energy yet again.
Davis flip-flopped three times in under an hour, and never said a word about climate change. He doesn't appear to believe in either science or arithmetic.
Health Care Choice:
Rodney Davis repeatedly used the fear tactic of telling people that universal health care will result in the government dictating their choice of doctors and health care decisions. He believes a "market-based" insurance system will give people the freedom to choose their own doctors and health care options. It gets truly bizarre when Davis supports this argument by pointing to his own experience while being on a government, taxpayer-funded health care plan provided by his federal government job.
In contrast, Gill argues that, with his plan, government wouldn't get in the way of personal health care decisions. It's not a problem now with government plans like Medicare. He pointed out that it's the private insurance companies who restrict people to a primary care physician and limit health care decisions, not the government.
I've had my health care decisions limited by my insurance company. They told me what doctors I could see and I had to wait for care to be approved by insurance industry bureaucrats. That's the real world in my personal experience. Limiting patient choice is the core business model of the private HMO insurance system. That's the "market-based" system Davis would push us all into, where insurance companies increase their profits by denying people health care options. Once again, Davis appears to be living in a world of make believe.
Both candidates were polite, but they got in a couple of digs. Davis brought up Gill's previous runs for Congress and referred to him as a "career politician wannabe." Davis and the press have collective amnesia about Davis also previously running and losing for office twice. He ran for State Representative and mayor of Taylorville.
Gill ended the debate quoting the line, "I'll stop telling the truth about you when you stop telling lies about me." Burn.
Gill's biggest theme of the debate was hammering away at the corporate influence in Washington corrupting democracy and working against the interests of the average person. Several times he spoke about the massive amounts of corporate special interest spending for his opponent.
Davis kept going back to tax cuts and deregulation as the solution for all that ails, aka, "take two tax cuts and call me in the morning."
The moderators did a good job managing the debate. They simply talked over either candidate when they tried to go over time.The debate showed two very different candidates with contrasting philosophies. It's refreshing to have an independent-minded Democrat in this race who isn't afraid to stand up for his principles.
David Gill is being badly outspent by corporate money. Consider contributing to his campaign if you'd like a strong Progressive Democrat in Congress.
First posted at my blog, www.thereisaway.us.