After the election, Congress plans to reauthorize Bush-era tax cuts. But Democrats want to let expire the break for Americans who make more than $200,000 a year. Murray attacked Rossi for saying he would vote to extend those tax cuts saying, "The top 2% of Americans are costing us a trillion dollars, [and if we do that] we will not have the resources to provide a skilled workforce, or the transportation infrastructure."
Rossi responded that small business owners are among those wh would have to pay the higher tax, saying, "We need to make sure that we don't have the biggest tax increase in American history because quite frankly it's going to kill more jobs."
Murray, the Democrat, sang the praises of government action to repair the damage done by Wall Street, and touted her record of delivering federal dollars for the state's roads, colleges and businesses. "I'm working with your local leaders to provide the kinds of investments to create jobs, so you're strong again and our Main Street businesses kee their doors open," Murray said, touting millions she recently helped secure to repair Howard Hanson Dam & replace Seattle's South Park Bridge.
But Rossi, the Republican, contended that big government backed by Murray is the cause of the current crisis, not its solution. Rossi said businesses need stable regulation & low taxes to start hiring again. "It's not with more government, it's not with stimulus, it's not with a healthcare plan. It's got to be with small business being more successful," he said.
Rossi accused Murray of heading to Congress with good intentions years ago but claimed she's changed since then to become a D.C. insider. He ripped her record as a prolific sponsor of earmarks, citing a Seattle Times report about former Murray staffers now cashing in on their connections as lobbyists, garnering nearly $20 million in earmarks for clients in a recent defense bill alone. "That's precisely what's wrong with Washington, D.C. That's what has to change," Rossi said.
Murray defended her record, and said Rossi would shortchange important Washington state projects with his call to halt earmarks and cut the federal budget while insisting on $1 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
Once again, the health-care overhaul was a point of controversy. Rossi noted that Murray said during the Spokane debate she'd read all 2,600 pages of the bill, and helped write it. He asked whether she was responsible for controversial parts of the law that raised taxes or hired "hordes and hordes of IRS agents" to administer it.
Murray fired back that she'd personally written a section of the law that provided money to train future family physicians. "Mr. Rossi is going to repeal that program and take that away," she said.
Murray touted her support for a law that would give such people a chance to be citizens after going to college or joining the military.
Rossi pointed to the health care overhaul and stimulus spending and said leaders are "moving down a path that is very dangerous."
"If we don't have a course correction in this election, I think we're going to wake up 24 months from now in a country that we don't even recognize," Rossi said.
Murray said Rossi's support for extending tax cuts for individuals who earn $200,000 a year or more could destabilize Social Security, halt the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and hurt student loans and construction projects that repair dams and other infrastructure.
Murray said the new health law will make a difference by stopping insurance companies from denying coverage for needed care. "The only group of people that health care in this county was working for was our health insurance companies," Murray said. "Every family, every business, every community was struggling with double-digit increases."
Murray said she believes the "don't ask, don't tell" policy should be tossed and that sexual orientation should not be cause to discharge anyone in the military.
But Murray said she supports a timetable for withdrawal. "We have a number of military families who have sacrificed so much for our nation," Murray said. "We owe it to them to know where and how long they're going to be there and how much more sacrifice they have to give."
Murray was asked if she read the bill before voting on it. "Not only did I read it, I helped to write it," she said proudly. She said it is "not perfect" but is a step in the right direction to give individuals greater control of their health care.
Rossi said the decision of voters is about changing leadership in a government that is spending too much and growing too big.
Rossi hammered Murray as a 3-term incumbent who constantly voted for bigger government programs and more government control of business. "You have an 18-year incumbent killing jobs in the state of Washington in vote after vote," Rossi said. "I want to allow entrepreneurs to be successful."
As she has done throughout the campaign, Murray sought to paint Rossi as a friend to Wall Street & big banks. Rossi, a real estate developer, branded Murray as a big-spending liberal. The candidates referred constantly to the fight over extending the 2001 & 2003 tax cuts to individuals making more than $200,000
Murray's campaign maintains that two debates is enough, and says Murray is too busy to d more considering her Senate schedule. "We had a number of very promising proposals. We considered all of them. We made a choice to accept two debates, one in Western Washington and one in Eastern Washington, that would both be available to statewide audiences and reach as many voters as possible," said Murray campaign spokeswoman.
Murray has a history of limiting debates with her challengers--a classic incumbent strategy. In 1998, during her first re-election campaign, Murray agreed to just one debate with Republican challenger Linda Smith. In 2004, Murray consented to two debates, frustrating Republican George Nethercutt, who proceeded to traverse the state "debating" an empty pair of tennis shoes.
The above quotations are from 2010 Washington Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Washington Senate Debates.
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