Below are my notes from last night’s debate. I watched the live-streamed broadcast from the WETM website. Unfortunately, due to technical problems, I missed at least the first 15 or so minutes of the program, and the debate is not available for viewing at the present time (I checked the website this morning; perhaps it will be up later in the day.) Be advised that most of the following is paraphrased and not all verbage was transcribed.
[UPDATE: Video now available]
Foley/Congressional Page Scandal
Kuhl: Talked about the current investigation by FBI and Ethics committee; also wants a private investigation.
Massa: Talked about the importance of those who are elected to not lie, cheat or steal to begin with, comparing it to the code he honored while serving in active military duty.
Kuhl: you need to understand fully the nature of what is going on and to understand that this is not party-oriented. Its an institution problem that needs to be addressed.
Massa: Must secure our borders immediately. 12 to 14 million illegals in our country now. We must address the problem in a way that does not make felons out of farmers in upstate NY. Must address the problem of why illegals cross our borders. Failed trade policies such as NAFTA and CAFTA contribute to the problem.
Kuhl: It is the most pervasive question as I traveled (the district). I don’t think anybody can disagree that you have to cut off the flow of them into this country. The first step is to secure the border. The “catch and release” program has been changed and is no longer used since 7/31/06; all are being detained for purposes of deportation. You have to come up with a policy that does not reward illegals. I don’t support amnesty
Massa: You heard here that you have to understand whats going on in Washington DC; no one understands what is going on in Washington DC. The reality on immigration is that no one understands the policy. Time for straight cost and action from Congress.
Medicare D and Health Insurance – Catastrophic Care – Help for those Without Adequate Insurance
Kuhl – There are 300 million in this country, 47.9 million are uninsured. Many of those have had insurance or have been employed in the last year. Many of them have made the decision to not (continue to carry insurance). Access to affordable health insurance (can include) health savings accounts, community health associations, and to allow government and people commissions to identify where that may be possible.
Massa – 47 million Americans without the ability to see a doctor is a crime and unamerican. All I want to do is to help provide what 27 other nations have figured out to do. Every parent without insurance lives in fear that they (and their children) are not going to be able to see a doctor. Its not a matter of “we don’t need healthcare”. HMOs put profit before patients; we need to provide for all Americans now.
Kuhl – We all know that the cost is expanding upwards. Families of 4 (paying) $10-12,000 policies with all of the add-ons. (My) proposal would allow people to formulate different options.
US Involvement in Iraq – Is America More or Less Secure
Massa – Speaking from years of experience, the misbegotten way is making us less secure and we are creating the insecurity. He speaks of a letter from a marine relaying his experiences that have moved him to see the reality of failure. We need a new strategy, we need to move now (to form) three economic, viable states. We will never be successful creating a Jeffersonian Democracy at the end of a bayonet.
Kuhl – Believes that it has safened our country from attack. We are there now and we dethroned a dictator. Do we continue to complete the mission to set up for the success of this new soveriegnty called Iraq? We owe it to the people to fight and want to complete (the mission). If we remove (ourselves from the Iraq war,) it will create a larger tragedy than Darfur and Sudan. The fact that we are there fighting on their shores protects us on our shores.
Massa – WMD’s that did not exist; titanic clash of cultures. The mission is not defined; despite the “flight suit” …, mission was never accomplished. We need new leadership.
Government Debt – Is a large Deficit Unavoidable or Can We Slow the Growing Debt
Kuhl – (we need) a balanced budget; part of the process should be contingency funds available at a state level should also be available at the federal level to cover items such as the war, (Katrina), so that you can control the debt…and live without this debt. I would like this war to end today, but I will not walk away from our commitment to Iraq.
Massa – I’m not asking for your vote to commit to the Iraqi people, but to commit to the people of the 29th District. (I can’t) vote for a budget that adds trillion(s); we know that Washington is currently running off course. We need new leadership to bring this about. The heart and soul of America is not in Washington DC.
Kuhl – I think it can be done; can you do it tomorrow? No, it takes planning that hasn’t been there. Need a line-item veto. There is a way to do it, but its not going to happen overnight.
Do you Pledge to not engage in negative campaigning and advertising?
Massa – There have been ads that have lies about my platform and myself. He then speaks of the MoveOn.org ad that was against Kuhl. Just a few days later, my opponent ran the exact same ad against me. … Not democratic or republican values; it is about American values and we need a higher standard of debate. It does not help to tell lies on TV; we deserve better.
Kuhl – Absolutely not (meaning he will not run a negative campaign). I have never run a negative campaign and never will. 527’s are organizations that have no reporting requirements…the first ad run against me was from MoveOn.org, the liberal organization from George Soros that accused me (of taking part) of a giveaway from the Iraq War and was negative and misleading. My opponent said that there might be some accuracy to the ad. Speaking on his own ads against Massa: any issue is based on comments my opponent has made in one place or another.
Massa – I’m not in the election business; I’m not a politician. You asked me to condemn that ad and I did. (You called me) MoveOn’s candidate – it doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Kuhl – Energy bill last July encourages wind farm development, but not where it is to be placed. It should be a local decision by the people in the community.
Massa – This is another example of corporate America going awry and imposing their will on the local community without benefit to that community. Nothing is done to improve the quality of life to neighbors and families. These companies have ignored the protests of locals, but also the reality of ignorance, environment, and maintenance factors. Local control; can’t let the wolves into the sheep pen.
Kuhl – These agreements will (bring) dollars to support schools, roads, etc. If my opponent would just get out and…(gets cut off)
Lightening Round – Yes or No
Should Iraqi People have the final say by referendum popular vote if our troops should stay in Iraq?
Kuhl – yes; Massa – no
Should the Electoral College System be eliminated?
Kuhl – no; Massa – no
Should the US have one-on-one talks with North Korea?
Kuhl – no; Massa – yes
Support Federal funding for Stem cell research?
Massa – yes; Kuhl – yes
Should Americans be allowed to privatize part of their social security contributions?
Massa – no; Kuhl – no
Should we legalize marijuana for medical purposes?
Massa – no; Kuhl – no
Should burning of the U.S. flag be outlawed?
Kuhl – yes; Massa – no
Candidates question each other:
Massa to Kuhl – Asks about the change to Kuhl’s website from 10/3 to 10/4. Website said on 10/3 that the War on Terror – the new government of Iraq is making progress, 188 provinces by this year’s end; then it changed to the “end of next year”. Which year is it?
Kuhl – When I was in Iraq, I had the opportunity to visit with General Casey; had a discussion; its a complex situation, the evolution of war. We are in the process of turning control to Iraqi government. Then there was a statement from the President of Iraq that initially said by year end and was then modified to say at the end of 2007. The website was modified to reflect the change.
Massa – that’s the problem; 16 hours in Iraq won’t give you much of an understanding. He then read a paragraph from the Marine that states:
Biggest Hassle — High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and “battlefield” tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what’s going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they’ve been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here. (note from me: I have read the same article; therefore, I was able to source this verbage.)
Kuhl to Massa: On your website, you (say) universal health care will cost $1.8 trillion annually; 3% automatic tax increase and will eliminate all tax reductions to people married, marriage penalty, college deductions…how are you going to pay for this?
Massa: We are in far more than the $1.8 trillion in stealth taxes in (all we buy; gas, bread, etc.). (average) $1200 in all we buy. Talks about the tax breaks for the wealthy – Paris Hilton tax break, etc.
Kuhl – No rebuttle.
Kuhl – Thanks the panel and those who have sponsored the debate. I have tremendous concentration on the people of the district; dedicated to the people; I’m a problem solver; I don’t want to solve national or international problems per say.
Massa – Added his thanks to those who took time out to listen to the debate. Its a question of experience, whether 24 years of legislation in Albany will get us what we need in Washington, or will we get more of the same. He spoke of his years in the military and that he and his family chose to live and grow roots here in the district. There is a tremendous failure in Washington DC. Do we stay the course or change? It is an important election and I ask all of you to vote.
In print today:
And, from the Massa Campaign website: Massa Wins A Second Debate
Massa continued to articulate a strong message for change, repeatedly attacked the status quo in Washington as being out-of-touch with the values of real Americans and voters in the district, and linked Kuhl to what he called a “Washington insider” culture. Massa presented a clear list of positions on Iraq, health care, jobs, and veteran’s benefits, which have been the linch-pins of his campaign.Kuhl, in contrast, seemed uncomfortable with the debate situation, rambled in his statements, and focused his remarks almost entirely on the panel rather than addressing the live or the TV audiences. Many in the audience mentioned that he was hard to hear. Kuhl defended Bush administration positions consistently, particularly in Iraq, where he advocated that we “stay the course.” Massa argued that in fact Iraq is now a failed course, and that we need to “change the course.”
Kuhl made several remarks that startled the audience, including a denial of ever having run a negative campaign, when his current campaign features a series of extremely negative ads; a statement in support of stem cell research, when he voted this past July to block funding for such research; and a statement that he has voted for some unspecified bill that will balance the federal budget (he has voted for the series of Republican spending bills that have produced a wave of skyrocketing deficits and record levels of debt that Massa called “a stealth tax.” Panelists asked several questions about jobs and trade, particularly the controversial NAFTA and CAFTA trade agreements. When asked about the negative impact of NAFTA on the job situation in the district Kuhl said, “It’s a real question. I don’t really know.” “That,” Massa said, “is the problem.”
I have not been able to source a statement from Mr. Kuhl as of this report.