Meek defended Obama's economic strategy, including the stimulus of 2009, as "dealing with the cards we were dealt" by the previous administration and the economic crisis that reached its peak in the fall of 2008. He said the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 were designed to be temporary and shouldn't be extended for the most-well-off Americans. "There were surpluses," he said. "There are no longer surpluses. So we're digging a deeper hole. And what Rubio and also Crist are representing, let's continue to dig, and trickle-down economics will work for the middle class in creating jobs."
Meek said Crist's decision was more pragmatic. "We know why the governor is running as an independent--because he couldn't beat Marco Rubio," Meek said. Meek was quick to block Crist's effort to outflank him on abortion.
Meek said he has "a 100 percent voting record when it comes down to a woman's right to choose" in his eight years in Congress. "He's been all over the board, first a Republican, then he became an independent," Meek said of Crist. As a state legislator, education commissioner, attorney general and governor, Crist mostly supported GOP positions on economic and "family values" issues.
In a back-and-forth that defined their campaigns, Crist depicted Rubio as a conservative ideologue unable or unwilling to deviate from extreme views regardless of changing dynamics. "You know, facts change all the time," Crist said. "I think people want an open-minded senator rather than the opposite, a closed-minded senator."
Rubio "wouldn't accept tax cuts on 98% of the people in America because of his ideology," Crist said. "That's exactly the problem, that's what's not right with Washington today." While Crist advocated a compromise, Meek backed the Obama position.
"You think government creates jobs," Rubio said to Meek, cutting him off.
"No, I don't," Meek said.
"You do," Rubio said.
"I think tax cuts for small businesses create jobs and incentives for local communities to move forward," Meek said.
Crist added, "What you just witnessed is the problem and the reason I'm running as an independent. These two guys are going at each other because one's the Republican right, one's the Democratic left. What's true is there are good things that both parties can present to the future of our country."
"We have a jobs crisis," countered Greene. "It's not a job problem." The billionaire blamed elected officials, including Meek, for the record high unemployment in the state.
"Do you intend, if you're a US Senator, to continue to have your family members get cars, money, other kinds of benefits and then go ask for earmarks for the people providing these benefits?" Greene asked Meek. Meek unsuccessfully sought $4 million in federal money for the project and said he didn't know the developer had hired his mother.
Greene called on Meek to follow the lead of embattled NY Rep. Charlie Rangel: "If nothing's wrong, why wouldn't you ask for a House Ethics Commission to clear your name," Greene asked. Responded Meek: "If they felt anything was wrong I would have been before the ethics committee long ago."
Meek offered a detailed parliamentary response about how bills merge in the committee process, saying many of his legislative ideas were incorporated into committee bills that didn't bear his name.
The last US combat brigade was pulled out of Iraq this month. Nearly 50,000 non-combat soldiers remain in Iraq.
The above quotations are from 2010 Florida Senate debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Florida Senate debates.
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Kendrick Meek on other issues:
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