On Sunday night I watched the second debate between Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and GOP candidate Dino Rossi (hosted by KOMO TV, ABC’s Seattle station.
The following is my paraphrased account, based on continuous rapid note-taking, of the two candidates’ remarks.
DR: If anybody had told you years ago that the federal government would one day control the auto industry and health care, you’d have thought it was a conspiracy theory. We face a fundamental redefinition of America. The greatest blessing of my life is my wife. When I wondered whether to run for Senate, my wife asked me what kind of a country do I want for our children. I’m running against an 18-year incumbent. I want to take Washington and the nation in a new direction.
PM: Thank you for joining us for this very important discussion. The question is who will be your voice and advocate in the United States Senate. People in Washington have lost homes, jobs and pensions. This state is my family, and my family is hurting. I will take on anyone to make sure you have a seat at the table. Hard work and fighting for what you believe in, those are the values I take to the Senate. By working together we can find solutions.
Question: Moderators show a rapid-fire montage of campaign ad clips. One moderator claims people keep coming up to him and asking why do the candidates run negative ads and why can’t they just say what they’re going to do for Washington? So candidates, what will you do for us?
PM: The first thing I will do is work to be your voice. I am always coming home to talk to community leaders about what they need to create jobs. So I work to bring home the investments they need. Whether it’s repairing Howard Hanson Dam in Kent Valley or cleaning up Hanford [a mostly decommissioned nuclear production site on the Columbia River] or passing the Small Business Lending Bill. My number one priority is jobs. And I do not forget our veterans. When we send people off to fight for our country we need to be there for them when they get back. And I will work to balance the federal budget responsibly. I have done this and I will do it again.
DR: We are on a fiscal cliff. When our bankers, the Chinese, who the last time I looked were Communists, tell you you’re on a fiscal cliff, you’re in trouble. I have worked across party lines when Gary Locke was Governor. I have won six different awards from the developmentally disabled community. You can be conservative and still have a conscience. There is so much partisanship in D.C. We have a functional 17.5% unemployment rate. I will bring my expertise to the Senate.
PM: We want to make sure we have the investments coming into our communities that will create jobs, tax cuts for middle income families, bringing security for the future.
DR: We must reauthorize all the tax cuts or you’ll see more people unemployed. Reauthorize all the tax cuts, including the ones that hurt small businesses.
Question: Name 3 things you will do to get us out of the recession.
DR: As I travel around the state, I have found myself looking into the eyes of 50-year-old men who are almost in tears because they haven’t been employed in two years. Employers won’t hire because they have so much uncertainty about what government is going to do to them. Health care reform will kill jobs in Washington with a $500 billion tax increase. They don’t need Patty Murray’s stimulus, they don’t need her heath care, they don’t need her bailouts. They need lower taxes and less regulation so they can go chase the American Dream.
PM: Every family knows someone who lost their job or had their hours cut back. I have been finding investments and funding to create jobs. Fixing Mercer Street [a major bottleneck in the Seattle area] and South Park Bridge [replacement of a heavily deteriorated, earthquake-vulnerable bridge built in 1929-31], these jobs are being paid for by a private employer, Merlino Construction. One challenge to small businesses is that banks cut off their line of credit, so I worked with the Administration to pass the Small Business Lending Act. Dino Rossi opposes it. I find the investments for every community to create jobs, like building the tankers at Boeing.
DR: The federal government can only create temporary government jobs, and this takes money away from private employers. I want them to be free to chase the American Dream, which has worked well for 232 years. [Note: 2010 is actually the 235th year of American Independence.]
PM: Merlino Construction is paying those employees. Mr. Rossi will give them a pink slip.
Question: What about the deficit?
PM: Every family, business and community is tightening its belt. The federal government must do this also. I voted to cut $14 billion from the President’s budget. I voted to freeze my own pay. I told the HUD Secretary we can’t afford a new building he wanted. We must do what we did under President Clinton, make the tough decisions that turned a deficit into a surplus. That surplus was thrown away under the Bush policies that Mr. Rossi supports. I know how to make those tough, responsible cuts. We can’t balance the budget and give tax cuts to the wealthy.
DR: Let’s talk about earmarks. I believe Patty Murray had good intentions went she went to the Senate. Now she’s #9 in earmarks. The Maritime Museum closed for lack of visitors. She defended the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. We must ban all earmarks.
PM: I didn’t hear a balanced budget in that answer. We must look at all spending, including defense and make responsible cuts, but also make investments in the future as we did under Clinton.
DR: It sounds like Senator Murray is the second coming of Ronald Reagan. But she wants earmarks. She does one thing in D.C. and something different at home.
Question: Over 300,000 people are out of work in Washington. Questions from a viewer: How will you help businesses like Boeing stay in Washington?
DR: I’ve had a relative working at Boeing since World War II. Boeing has lost 30,000 jobs since 19997. Businesses need a stable platform. Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost because of Senator Murray.
PM: Businesses tell me all the time what they need – the infrastructure to get goods to their stores and send them where they need to go. They need good roads. They need a skilled workforce, whether it’s welding or computer skills etc. Lack of this workforce inhibits business growth. Government must provide support for the creative, competitive spirit.
DR: 1 in 3 jobs in Washington is centered around trade. She can't move the trade agreements from Panama, Colombia, South Korea. Unions don't want her to do that.
PM: I didn’t hear jobs mentioned. It will cost $1 trillion to give a tax cut to the top 2%, which is money that won’t go to support our trade policies or build infrastructure.
Question: Health care reform – it has problems, what will you do about it?
PM: The only people health care was working for was insurance lobbyists. You should be able to pick your insurance plan and not be denied coverage if you get sick or have a child with a pre-existing condition. Seniors should have their prescriptions covered. We have passed a law to start solving those problems. All bills need to be revisited for improvement in the future and this one will be. I’m glad I voted for it and I will make it work.
Moderator: Mr. Rossi, please explain your claim that health care reform will cost $500 billion and kill jobs.
DR: Patty Murray claimed she actually read the whole health care bill and that she wrote parts of it. Did you write the part that fines people and the $500 billion cut to Medicare and tax increase? I don’t want my health care decided by the IRS with all the compassion it can muster.
PM: I’m glad he brought that up. I wrote the workforce section that has kids going to college to provide the medical workforce that will help lower costs. Dino Rossi will repeal health care reform.
DR: Health care reform must be repealed and replaced with something better. Insurance should be allowed to be bought across state lines. [Words to the effect, I think, of limiting malpractice judgments.]
Question: What about illegal immigration? What do we do with the people who are already here, especially children who have grown up in America?
DR: It’s all academic until we secure the border. We need a tall fence with a high gate. The same people are coming back over the border again and again to commit violent crimes. We need temporary workers in agriculture and high tech. We must secure the border.
PM: Immigration affects our economy and quality of life. I have worked to secure our northern border. We need border patrol agents, not a fence. I fight for them to get funding. Ag employers tell me they don’t have the workforce they need. Little kids brought here who grow up are force to live in the shadows – we need the DREAM Act either alone or as part of comprehensive immigration reform. People must learn English, pay fines, and get on a path to citizenship.
Moderator: What about the children, Mr. Rossi?
DR: I haven’t heard a good solution. I’m open to new ideas. Microsoft is building in British Columbia. We don’t need that. We want people in America.
Question: There has been no cost of living increase this year. What about seniors?
PM: If we learned anything from the Wall Street meltdown, it was that we must keep Social Security safe. I’m in favor of providing an extra $250 to seniors that Mr. Rossi would take away.
DR: We must come through for seniors. The biggest threat to Social Security is the deficit. We don’t have a trust fund because Senator Murray and her friends use it as a piggy bank. My 16 year-old asks about the deficit. 16 year-olds shouldn’t worry about things like that.
Question: What about raising the retirement age?
PM: There are two threats: One is putting our finances back in the hands of Wall Street hedge fund managers, and the other is giving a $1 trillion tax cut to the wealthy. President Obama has a bipartisan commission that will bring proposals in December. We should not be picking and choosing before they make their report.
DR: [I couldn’t follow his answer.]
DR: We need to see the report from the commanders in the field and the troops affected by this and our readiness in the field. It needs to be thought out thoroughly. No unelected judges making the decisions that should be legislated.
PM: I talk to men and women serving honorably in dangerous conditions. The honor code of the military doesn’t allow them to be honest about who they are. We must repeal DADT. We need every American who wants to serve our country. I am a sponsor of legislation to repeal DADT and I am proud to fight for and with anybody who wants to serve our country.
DR: Well, I’ll talk about veterans because I’ve already answered. Patty Murray has served individual veterans well and she has a good staff, and I will serve individual veterans well and I will have a good staff. And I thank you all for your service.
PM: As someone who has fought so long for veterans, I don’t discriminate between gay or straight or whatever. Mr. Rossi has said he will and that isn’t right.
Moerator: You can now ask a question of each other.
PM to DR: How can you talk about fixing the deficit when you want to spend all this money on tax cuts for the wealthy instead of giving tax cuts to businesses and the idle class and doing things like letting people deduct our state sales tax?
DR: Senator Murray left D.C. without reauthorizing the 2001-2003 tax cuts. She says she wants tax cuts. She voted against them. She never produced legislation. She went to the Senate floor and talked about sales tax. Bottom line is she will raise taxes. You have to be to the left of self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders.
DR to PM: I want to ask about trade. You have sparked a tariff war with Mexico because the teamsters union contributed to your campaign.
PM: Mr. Rossi has his facts confused. This is a safety issue to make trucks safe and inspected. We put a pilot project in place and I have demanded of the Transportation Secretary that it be reinstated. I answered your question but you didn’t answer mine about tax cuts for the wealthy. You owe us an answer.
DR: I answered, it’s just not your answer of higher taxes.
PM: Two reasons we’re in trouble: One, the Bush tax cuts Mr. Rossi supports were not paid for. I voted against them. Two, the Wall Street hedge fund managers gambled with your money and crashed the economy. Dino Rossi will repeal Wall Street regulation.
Moderator: Now you must each try to convince a voter of the opposite party to vote for you.
PM: Most of what I have accomplished has been done by working across the aisle. I have worked with Sue Collins of Maine. I work with Senator [Mike] Enzi [R-WY], a very conservative Senator, on a workforce bill so that high school kids can learn the skills they will need. I’ve worked with Senator McCain on the pipeline safety law following a tragic explosion in Bellingham. The most important thing is to listen to my constituents and go back to D.C. and find like-minded partners to work on legislation with.
DR: It’s clear these problems are too big for one party to solve. I worked with Democrats in the state senate under Governor Locke. That’s why I have so much support from Libertarians and Independents and Republicans and Democrats. This is the future of America. Patty Murray votes with her leadership 97% of the time. I hope you’ll come with me in a different direction.
DR: My grandparents came here from Italy because America was a better place for themselves and their children and grandchildren. America is a great land of opportunity. If you like high unemployment and health care controlled by the government, vote for Patty Murray. If you want to get your freedom back, I respectfully ask for your vote.
PM: We do have a very clear choice. Mr. Rossi has told you he will repeal Wall Street reform. I will work to keep the financial crisis from ever happening again. I work for families. Two wars and tax cuts that were not paid for got us into this mess. When I was growing up and my dad lost his job, we had to be frugal, but my parents still knew they had to invest in their children’s education for the future. I ask for your vote so I can continue to be your voice in the U.S. Senate.
Update [2010-10-18 17:31:3 by Kat 4 Obama]: Watch the entire debate here: