Thursday, October 21, 2010

Congressional District One debate on public broadcast stations

On Friday night Republican challenger Jon Barela and Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich squared off in a debate moderated by Sam Donaldson, hosted in the studios of KNME, and organized by the non-partisan policy organization New Mexico First, in partnership with the state's public broadcasters. Unlike debates where time limits impose constraints on participants this forum gave candidates a chance to espouse their views on various topics.
The first question the candidates faced was “What in the way of policy and legislation would you support to provide jobs?” Both candidates agreed that the focus should be on job creation by helping small businesses, yet their definition of small business and approach in helping them differed markedly.

The question went to Heinrich first which responded by noting that when he was elected to office the U.S. was experiencing a job loss of almost 800,000 per month, which has now been arrested and for the past nine months there has been private sector job growth. He mentioned the Small Business Job Act of 2010, recently signed by President Obama, which provided $1 billion through 2,000 loans to small businesses from the Small Business Administration in the first week of its implementation and potentially would provide up to $300 billion.

Barela said that the stimulus packages had not created jobs and had been a failure, they had only added to the national debt. As a small business person he said he sees health care reform, cap and trade regulation, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire as job killing measures. Private businesses are the ones that will lead us out of this recession not the government, Barela said.

Heinrich answering Barela said, “I think there is a difference between being a small business person and being a wealthy investor in a string of failed businesses.” The Small Business Job Act of 2010 did not add to the deficit it was paid for by closing a tax loophole that encouraged American corporations to export jobs overseas.

The candidates disagreed on what to do with the Bush tax cuts. Barela said he supported extending the tax cuts for all Americans and Heinrich prefers to extend them for those with an income of $250,000 or less while phasing them out for millionaires and billionaires.

On immigration reform and the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act also known as DREAM Act, they agreed on the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Heinrich supports the DREAM Act, while Barela opposes it in its current form.

Throughout the rest of the debate Barela continued to reiterate his points of less government intervention (except when asked about smart grid development), less government regulation, the need to rein in entitlement programs, and lower taxes. He also kept trying to associate Heinrich with House speaker Nancy Pelosi without offering any concrete examples of what he would do.

Heinrich addressed the questions with facts about what he had done or what still remains to be done.

In my opinion this debate goes to Heinrich for giving specific answers to questions that the audience had formulated over several hours of work. Barela mostly recited typical GOP talking points.

Heinrich had the best quote of the debate. “I don’t think we can wag our finger on one side and have our hand out on the other,” referring to Barela’s company”>Cerelink which on its website boasts a multiyear agreement with Dreamworks Animation SKG, which uses publicly financed supercomputers and the 25% film tax credit offered by the State of New Mexico most likely also influenced Dreamworks’ decision to bring the work here.

You can watch the entire debate for yourself at KNME’s website”>here.

No comments: