|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Wyden, opponent Huffman lock horns in televised debate

    Debate moves to Portland tonight
  • MEDFORD — Thursday's televised debate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and Republican challenger Jim Huffman was a tense contest to prove which man would be more bipartisan in his politics while helping Oregon's struggling economy.
    • email print
      Comment
  • MEDFORD — Thursday's televised debate between Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and Republican challenger Jim Huffman was a tense contest to prove which man would be more bipartisan in his politics while helping Oregon's struggling economy.
    The debate was hosted by KOBI-TV NBC 5 and was broadcast live. The opponents took questions from a panel of Southern Oregon newspaper editors and television directors.
    Wyden led off with an opening statement highlighting his commitment to bipartisanship at the highest levels of government. He noted his work with Republican senators from various states.
    "Not one political party has all the answers," Wyden said. "I don't care if you're Republican or Democrat."
    In his opening remarks, Huffman wasted no time linking Wyden to Oregon's long-term unemployment problems.
    "It is no coincidence that during (Wyden's) term, Oregon unemployment is above the national average," Huffman said.
    The two went on to outline their plans to foster small businesses in the face of a lousy economy.
    Huffman, a Lewis and Clark Law School professor and constitutional scholar, said that he believes in a moratorium on new federal regulations on businesses, a payroll tax holiday and an extension of the Bush tax cuts would help small businesses survive the downturn.
    "I believe small business is the most important employer in this state," he said.
    Wyden, again, pointed to his bipartisan work on a bill to help small businesses finance equipment they need to grow and his support of biomass as a job machine that would greatly benefit Southern Oregon.
    Wyden criticized the Obama administration's lumping biomass in with fossil fuels in terms of pollutants.
    "(Biomass) is a clean energy source for our state," he said.
    The economy dominated the bulk of the debate, as the panelists asked a number of questions about the Wall Street bank and auto company bailouts at the beginning of the Great Recession.
    Wyden voted against the Wall Street bailout and said he favors the federal government ending tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. He also supports limiting taxes on Internet-based companies.
    Huffman argued that these proposals are too small when the country faces double-digit unemployment and a terribly slow recovery. He said Wyden's great mistake was voting for the stimulus bill because those funds will never be returned to taxpayers.
    Huffman believes Oregon is not taking full advantage of its timber resources and that he would work with environmental groups to help protect wildlife and have a healthy timber industry.
    At one point, Wyden was shown a television ad he supported that claimed Huffman defended the Wall Street bailout and believes in privatizing Social Security. When asked to comment on the negative ad, Wyden said it was the exception and not the rule of his campaign to run such an ad.
    "I've always tried to keep a campaign positive," Wyden said. "This is the only ad I have run that has mentioned my opponent by name."
    Huffman said the ad was full of lies and half-truths. He said he supported the bank bailout because it was the best of a batch of bad policies the federal government was considering at the start of the financial crisis. He said he doesn't support privatizing Social Security, but believes people should be given the option of putting payroll taxes in a private account.
    In the end, the men firmly agreed that the issue of marijuana legalization such as California's Proposition 19 should be handled at the state level and the federal government should back off.
    "I treat it as a state's rights issue," Wyden said.
    Huffman nodded in agreement, saying, "I think the federal government intervenes in too many aspects of our day-to-day lives."
    The men will debate again tonight in Portland. It will be broadcast on Oregon Public Broadcasting at 7 p.m.
    Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.
Reader Reaction

      calendar