Norwalk Community College hosted the second of the eleven planned debates pitting Christopher Shays versus Diane Farrell and the Libertarian entertainment of Phil Maymin.
The one hour debate led with a question about the 47 million uninsured and what are the short term and long term steps to address it.
Maymin: Setting the stage for the recurring theme of “government is bad- free markets will solve everything”, Maymin started with a spiel of why healthcare collectives were better than federal government involvement because the federal government can only deal out “burdensome regulations.” Citing no studies, Maymin said the cell phone industry is a great example of the free market offering choices. (Riiiiiight…Maymin apparently hasn’t ventured out of USA, since he’d find that the US cell phone industry has only managed to deliver slow speed voice & data, dropped connections, limited phone features totally locked down and high prices.)
Shays: Citing that US based healthcare is the best in the world, Shays thinks malpractice reform and health savings accounts are the two most important things we can do to improve healthcare. Okay, except that while the US veterans healthcare system is exemplary, from every metric you can measure, the US healthcare system is falling apart and forcing US companies to compete globally with the added burden of paying for employee healthcare. Moving past that premise, Shays raised a good point about increasing community clinics, which he credited the Bush administration with funding programs that increased the number of clinics overall. Shays reminded the audience that he voted for allowing people to import FDA approved drugs from Cananda.
Farrell: Identifying that there’s a crisis in healthcare with the millions of uninsured is important. Farrell proposed reform is the answer. She cited the comparison in administrative costs of medicare (3-5%) versus private insurance (13-15%) as an example of a system that does meet that great free market competitive efficiencies goal. On the subject of health savings accounts; works great if you are young and healthy, not so good if you aging or unhealthy. Farrell reminded the audience that Shays vote did not stop a bill from passing that did not allow for FDA approved drugs from Canada to be imported.
Next up Iraq and agreeing with Bush.
Shays: If all he had was the info he had on the first vote he’d do it again. But with the information he has now, he’d vote no. He acknowledged the many mistakes, looting, disbanding the Iraqi army etc. But he stressed that we are there now, and we are engaged in fighting Islamist terrorists.
Farrell: Not mincing words, Farrell suggested that Shays backed off his “post Iraq visit number 13 and everything is going groovy over there in Iraq” postion to the “post Iraq visit number 14 and gee things aren’t going so well now aren’t they visit” because of gasp, the election and because focus groups/polling that revealed that voters were disenchanted with the progress in Iraq. Maybe too much detail of Shays various statements/positions, but Farrell summed up the main point, with Republican control of both houses and the executive branch, there was no accountability and no checks and balances for producing a definitive plan for doing anything.
Maymin: Wars fought by the government are bad, the free market would solve the Iraq war and political solutions (presumably because they originate from governments) are not practical and oh by the way, who cares about making sure Iraqi’s are secure, Americans need to be secure. (Mr. Mayim, please refer to your color coded homeland security chart immediately.)
Onto Energy and what sort of incentives should be supported
Farrell: Create incentives for both producers(invest in alternative energy) and consumers (be more efficient), pay for it from Oil company profits. And, Connecticut a has great future in fuel cells. More detail about what Shays voted for and what good it didn’t do.
Maymin: Stop fighting wars, stop taxing energy get rid of government regulations and all sorts of free market solutions will sprout up like the green stuff on a chia pet. No, he didn’t really say that … but he did say something about Lithium as an alternative energy source and that profits are needed otherwise we would all live in poverty, and as a proud owner of an suv, he’s willing to pay the price he does for gas. The room became very silent.
Shays: The government serves as a referee opening led into why regulations are good and that this whole energy thing is a bipartisan problem to solve and it’s such a shame that Democrats are being so partisan about everything these days. They won’t co-sponsor bills with him because, (and this led to the classic line of the debate), Nancy Pelosi tells them not to. Shays then went on to say that Nancy Pelosi is Newt Gingrich without the intelligence and intellect. Or something close to that because MS Word decided to hang on an autosave and the audience gasped revealing that Shays misjudged the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the crowd. Recognizing that perhaps that this wasn’t a well received comment, Shays continued by outling how hard he works with both sides of the aisle and proudly voted against the energy bill.
Farrell: Did not touch the Pelosi comment by Shays and responded that Democrats are shut out of congress decision making and about those Shays votes; after careful examination the Shays votes against bills never changed the vote outcomes, but his votes to put the House leadership in place with its 6 rating from the League of conservation voters is the real point of the votes Shays has cast.
Maymin: Government is bad, and it pollutes more than any business. Wild fires on the west coast are because of government. Free markets are good.
Final question, but not final jeopardy, which congressional committees would each want.
Maymin: Budget, appropriations and ways and means because he’d vote everything else out of existence.
Shays: government reform, homeland security, and financial services, but not transportation because he’d prefer to work on housing.
Farrell: transportation because in 19 years of Shays in DC things are just getting worse, as well as the ones that Maymin suggested.
Each candidate got to make closing statements. Maymin predictably reminded the audience that he’d vote to eliminate all spending and government. Shays said the real choice is between an independent voice (his) and a partisan politician (Farrell) and that he seeks to bring Stamford, Bridgeport and Norwalk together into a one coast one future kinda thing. He trotted out the Farrell spends money and raises taxes mantra that the RNC seems compelled to say on mailings. Farrell defended her record in Westport, but truly framed this race in a summation: This election is a critical vote to between keeping the all republican control of DC or putting checks and balances back in government. She asked the audience t o reflect on 1. Where Shays agrees with Bush, has it been good for the country? 2. Where Shays disagrees with Bush as it made a difference? 3. Can we afford another two years of an unchecked congress?
The much shorter version of this is: Had enough? vote Farrell. You're doing a heckuva job Congress! Vote Shays. Eliminate Government! Stay Home, no sense in participating, that only encourages government.