Cravaack-Nolan Debate Preview- Medicare & Transportation Funding (CC)

Tuesday at Noon Congressman Chip Cravaack and his Democratic opponent, former Congressman Rick Nolan, will face each other again in a debate. But this time they will know that recent polls rate their race as a toss-up. As you can see in these videos from their first debate, they were both intense but polite. Here are two hot-button topics they covered that are likely to come up again —Medicare and transportation funding.

The two also touch on national defense. Cravaack waves the 9/11 flag to justify US “wars of choice” as Nolan calls them. Nolan reminds Cravaack that Iraq did not attack the US. Those attacks came from people in Afghanistan.

Click to see the videos and the transcripts.

Above, the debate on Medicare, below first the transcript on the Medicare debate and then the video and transcript of the transportation debate.

Medicare debate

Chuck Frederick (Duluth News Tribune):
It seems if you believe the attack ads that both of you want to do away with Medicare or have tried to do away with Medicare and the heck with Granny and Grandpa. So I’d like to for both of you to just please describe what you see as the future of Medicare and what the future needs to be and why and how your approach differs from what you perceive your opponents approach might be. And we’ll give you two minutes on answers to questions and Congressman Cravaack we’ll start with you.

Chip Cravaack:
First off I believe Medicare is a commitment. It’s a commitment we made to our seniors. It’s a commitment that I made to my 81 year old dad that I’d make sure that Medicare was going to be there for them. We have a plan. I’d be more than happy to take a look at another plan but unfortunately there isn’t one. The bottom line is Medicare is insolvent in 2022. Doing nothing is actually a dereliction of duty. So we have a bipartisan House plan that addresses this issue. And it actually is a plan that came out of, the genesis, of the Clinton administration under Alice Rivlin. Who actually worked in the Clinton administration. This is a Democrat plan. She worked with Paul Ryan together to save Medicare. And again if you’re 55 years or older, nothing changes for you. But if you’re 54 years and younger, there has to be a change because there will be nothing in 2022. It gives future seniors options. The same type of options that federal employees get. So our plan, the bipartisan House plan, is a plan that gives our seniors options through a premium support model. There are no vouchers. It is a premium support model. It is seamless to our seniors. And the second, at least of the private plans are going to be full premium support level. Or if you do not want to go with a private plan, you can go with traditional Medicare. The bottom line is patient centered. It’s patient centered to give our seniors options. The other thing you have to discuss is the IPAB. The Independent Payment Advisory Board. This board is an unelected, unaccountable board that will be making medical decisions for our seniors. I think that’s wrong way to go. I think those decisions should be made between a doctor and the patient.

Frederick:
Thank you very much. Representative Nolan I believe heard you say that you do support a plan and can you please tell us about it?

Nolan:
Yeah. Medicare is a promise that we made to our seniors. And it’s a sacred promise in my judgment. We didn’t get from a country with an average life expectancy of 47 to one of 77 without having provided some very good health care for our senior citizens. And up until that time they were dependent upon the private sector and it simply wasn’t affordable. So we put together a good plan. We said to people ‘you know we want you to start paying for your health care when you get older the very first day you go to work in your youth.’ And so I really reject the notion that social security and Medicare are some kind of entitlements. Those are earned benefits that people earn and paid for the very first day that they ever went to work. And they have every right to expect it. Now we’ve all seen these attack ads against me, in fact I’m told that there’s more being spent on those than any other candidate in the country. But I remind you that no less than WCCO, the Star Tribune, NPR, KSTP, WCCO, they’ve all done their fact checks on these ads and they’ve said that they’re misleading, they’re false they’re untrue, that they are ridiculous. The fact is that the Democrats have always supported Medicare. We will always support Medicare. And Congressman with all due respect, you voted to essentially end Medicare as we know it. That’s the way the Wall Street Journal has described it that’s the way the New York Times has described it. That’s the way all the fact checkers have described it. And that’s the way it is. I mean we can spin this all we want. But at the end of the day the record is what the record is. And I am as strong of a supporter of Medicare and social security as the Democratic party as you will ever find. And your voting record shows that you voted to do away with Medicare as we know it. Turn seniors back over the private insurance sector. In addition of course you’ve supported privatization of social security.

Frederick:
Representative Nolan, what about the future? What about going forward? And Representative Cravaack I’ll give you some time to rebut but, I just want to follow up. What about this notion that Medicare will be insolvent in 2022, should we start preparing now? What is your plan for the future?

Nolan:
Well absolutely. You know we’re looking at two things. Right now we’re looking at massive deficits in our budget that are not sustainable. and they threaten our future. And it isn’t social security and Medicare that caused that. That’s spending on a number of issues that hopefully we’ll get into here. But yes of course we have to make sure that Medicare and social security are viable.

Frederick:
So how? What is your plan?

Nolan:
Well, you know recent study by the National Science Foundation showed theres as much as 750 billion dollars a year in waste in our health care system. So we have to attack that. We have to eliminate the fraud. We have to make sure that there aren’t overpayments. We have to make sure that the system is viable and do what it takes to make it viable. But we don’t do that by, as our Congressman has suggested, by doing away with Medicare and replacing it with some voucher system or what essentially … turn it over to the insurance industry. Of course! But you know the point is we’ve got some time to work on that, and we do have to work on that. And there’s plenty of opportunities for savings without cutting benefits to our seniors.

Frederick:
Thank you very much. Representative Cravaack, 30 seconds to rebut that?

Cravaack:
Again, the PolitiFact ‘Lie of the year’ of 2011 was that Republicans want to end Medicare. We have a plan. I’d love to look at the President’s plan but he doesn’t have one. In the President’s budget, which not one Senator voted for, or not one person in the House of Representatives voted for, doesn’t even address the issue that Medicare trustees tell us that Medicare is bankrupt in 2022. We have a plan for maintaing the current seniors, make sure that they’re taken care of/ 55 years and older, nothing changes for you. But we have a plan for the future for the next generation Americans to make sure something is there for them.

Nolan:
Chuck just a 10 second rebuttal. Yeah you have a plan for Medicare. It’s to do away with it.

Roger Wedin (Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce):
Alright thank you gentlemen

Cravaack:
PolitiFact ‘Lie of the year’ of 2011.

Transportation debate

Chuck Frederick- Duluth News Tribune:
Let’s switch gears here and talk a little bit about transportation. Congressman Cravaack, shortly after you were elected in 2010 you questioned the new terminal project up at the Duluth International Airport. I think you came to change your mind on that one. But you brought up the issue of wants versus needs. And I think that’s a very critical issue when it comes to transportation funding— things like highways and airports and passenger rail lines and vehicle miles traveled, taxes and things like that. I’m curious what you consider wants and needs with regard to transportation funding and how you would prioritize transportation funding, from each of you of course. And Congressman Cravaack we’ll start with you. Two minutes please.

Chip Cravaack
Obviously being on and transportation/ infrastructure, this is what I’ve been working on for the last two years. Ensuring that we have the right money going to the right projects for the right reasons. And I work very closely with Brian (inaudible) on the airport expansion and it has gone well. I am on aviation. I’m the vice chair of aviation. We worked very hard and this was just up at the airport last week with with the transportation chairman John Mica. We were able to talk and take a look. The plans going well. I’m very proud of that. We were able to pass a transportation bill, which has had nine extensions and the previous congress, the 111th congress with a Democratic house and a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President wasn’t able to get passed. And we were able to pass it in the 112th congress. We wanted to make sure that the right dollars went to the right projects. We want to make sure the gas tax is used wisely. Within the transportation bill I was able to insert the ‘buy American steel’ amendment to make sure that American steel, by the way which 80% comes from the range, goes on American projects. And in addition to that I was able to beat back the VMT, Vehicle Mileage Tax, which was trying to be brought up . That would absolutely kill us in rural districts with that Vehicle Mileage Tax. Now, in the bipartisan House agreement what we believe is that we can make sure that by having drill royalties associated with our transportation, so to make sure… I’m watching you Tina… making sure that we can fund the projects that we need. Making sure our gas tax gets to the infrastructure that we need. Make sure it gets to what it’s paid for. Goes to our bridges and our roads. And getting our people back to work. We were able to pass it. I wanted a five year bill, but we passed a two year bill. But to give our contractors the stability to make sure they can recapitalize, hire and invest.

Frederick:
Thank you. Congressman Nolan.

Rick Nolan:
You know, Congressman, the old football coach Bill Purcell once said that you can spin the game any way you want, but at the end of the day your record is your record. And when it comes to transportation, you know, and your votes I of course saw where you voted to increase nation building abroad and the military by some four trillion dollars. But you voted also to cut transportation funding and infrastructure funding here. In fact I believe the bill that you ultimately did pass, you’re talking about, cut transportation funding by almost a third. You spoke out against the airport terminal here in Duluth. You introduced legislation and voted to do away with essential air services for regional airports like Brainerd and Hibbing and International Falls and Bemidji. You spoke out against the intermodal transpiration center here for Duluth and come out against the rail passenger service between here and the Twin Cities and the Northern Express that would go out along the western end of this district. Time and time and again you just didn’t seem to understand the importance of transportation for economic development and creating jobs. In fact I reminded you spoke out against the acquisition of Cirrus which kept that company in business, maintaining, creating hundreds of jobs. The fact is that our transpiration system, whether it be air, rail, highways, is such a intregal part of the foundation that’s essential for job creation and building quality communities. And I’ve just been, like a lot of people, very very disappointed to see you coming out against and speaking against and voting against funding for so many of these essential transportation services and programs.

Cravaack:
Again, as a member of the transportation committee one of the things you have to weigh and balance is where’s the money coming from? Where is it? The bipartisan fiscal commission said that in 2025, social security, medicare, medicaid and the interest we pay on our debt is going to take 100 percent of o ur revenue. So every dollar in addition to that has to be borrowed from someone. The majority of it is coming from China. So we were very fiscally responsible. Regarding EAS, I was the working chair. We were able to reach a bipartisan decision on that. and regards for Cirrus, as you know Congressman, I’m on counterterrorism intelligence and the Williams engine in the Cirrus aircraft also works in our Tomahawk cruise missiles and I was very concerned about the transfer of technology in that aspect.

Rober Wedin:
Very good. Thank you both

Nolan:
A little quick rebuttal. The national security council, of course, reviewed the whole Cirrus thing and they saw it in no way did it jeopardize our national security.

Cravaack:
It went past…

Nolan:
No they approved it. And then secondly when it comes to where the money comes from… it’s a question. I mean you continually vote trillions and trillions dollars for these endless wars of choice and this nation building abroad. It’s not a question of where, whether or not there’s money. It’s a question of where the money goes. And you’ve been a real big spender when it comes to national building abroad. But you’re not much of a spender when it comes to building our own communities and creating jobs here where people need good jobs and need good transportation.

Cravaack:
I’m sorry, in rebuttal, in rebuttal to that, in regards to the nation building, we are spending 3.65 percent of our GDP, which is the lowest it’s been since 1948 for our nation building and wars of choice that you call. The wars of choice that you call it sir, are in response to 911 where over three thousand Americans were killed. Now I believe in protecting the United States. We didn’t look for this fight, it came to our shores. And that’s a response to 911 and Americans being killed.

Nolan:
Well I know a little bit about the world as well, having been an export trader and I’ve actually lived in the middle east and studied the language and studied the culture and I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but it wasn’t Iraq that attacked the United States it was al qaeda. And we crushed them in Afghanistan as we should. And nobody believes more strongly than I do, in a good national, strong national defense. But that doesn’t mean we have to keep doing this nation building where it’s not wanted, where it’s not welcome, where they blow it up than we can build it. And it doesn’t mean we have to have a military base in every nook and cranny of the earth. It doesn’t mean we have to be policeman of the world. Every nation that’s ever tried to do that has ended up collapsing of bankruptcy in its own dead weight.

Wedin:
Final word Congressman Cravaack and then we must move on.

Cravaack:
In regards to our … we’re planning to take one trillion dollars out of our national defense. We’re going to have the smallest navy since 1915. We will have the smallest ground forces since 1940, and the smallest air force in existence of its history. I believe that is a detriment to the national defense of this country and leaves us vulnerable.

Nolan:
Well just real quickly

Frederick:
Let’s move on to the next section

Nolan:
This is an important point. The smallest in your judgement, is bigger and more than all of the rest of the world combined.

Frederick:
Well now I do feel like Jim Lehrer. Roger?
(Laughter)

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek.

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