Jon Tester Montana Politics

Tester-Burns Helena Debate

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I am watching via C-Span tonight.  I have been impressed that C-Span has covered a lot of Montana events during this Senate election cycle.

Tonight’s debate features just Tester and Burns which certainly changes the debate from last week’s situation in Bozeman.

Ugh.  C-Span is showing the Burns “fear! fear! fear!” Patriot Act ad.  Thank *you* Senator Burns!

Here we go.

Panel members: Chuck Johnson, Mike Dennison, Jackie Y. from Yellowstone Public Radio.  Debate is moderated by someone from the Independent Record.

Conrad Burns is introduced.  Some yahoo from the crowd screams “Go Conrad!”

Jon Tester is introduced.  Crowd sounds larger for Tester.

Ron Mercer is the moderator.

Debate rules:  Panelist asks questions; each gets 60 and a rebuttal for the person asked the question.  “We have a fancy timer,” so time will apparently be strictly kept.

Chuck to Burns: How long must we stay in Iraq?  What is the objective?

Burns:

  • We win!  Can’t set a timeline.
  • Can’t lose because it would be bad.
  • We must win.
  • Must spend money and support troops.
  • We must win.
  • “This is the first time we can change the economic culture of the Middle East.”
  • We will win.

Tester:

  • War in Iraq isn’t the war on terror.  Iraqi was has created more terrorists (good answer).  We have been there longer than World War II.
  • It is time for the president to develop a plan.  Bring troops home as soon as possible.
  • Must focus on the war on terror.

Burns:

  • We lost our will on Somalia.  Bin Laden will thinks that will happen in Iraq.  It has implications in our standing in the world.

Jackie to Tester: State has a surplus despite tax cuts, do you still not like them?

Tester:

  • Cuts aimed at wrong people.  Local taxes had to be raised by local school boards and counties.

Burns:

  • Tax cuts always good.  People made tough choices to lower taxes and it worked.  Current administration (Schweitzer) received a good economy.  Tester is a taxer and “thrives on that.”

Tester:

  • Burns advocates sales tax.  Repeats the 23% tax stuff.

Mike to Burns: 47 million without health coverage.  You have coverage…why not extend it?

Burns:

  • Senators pay for it… you can look on my stubs!
  • Repeats previous chat about small business health insurance stuff.  Who stopped it?  THE DEMOCRATS!  We lacked one vote.

Tester:

  • That bill is horrible, takes state controls away.  (Great answer!).  System isn’t the problem, it’s affordability.  Needs to be fixed.  Need to look at all the options.

Burns:

  • Tester should read the bill.  Auditors have a “hand in it.”  Bill was signed off by auditors.

Chuck to Tester: Supports energy independence.  Voted against Republican energy bills.  Why?

Tester:

  • I voted against deregulation.  It was silly and pushed late in the session.  Has specific chat about regulation (too specific?).  Bills were bad.

Burns:

  • Tester votes against development of our resources.  He is supported by RADICAL environmentalists.
  • We are the Saudi Arabia of coal.
  • “His voting record is that.  It’s not Jon, but his voting record.”

Tester:

  • Burns is making that up!  There is the issue: need to have responsible resource development.

Jackie to Burns: Your campaign slogan is “Burns delivers,” how are you conservative?

Burns:

  • Earmarks have my name on them.  We have never busted the budget on any earmark for the state of Montana.  (Huh?)  Then some nonsense about Washington having a “logic free environment.”
  • Every other senator does it.

Tester:

  • Burns = borrower and spender.
  • Burns put an earmark in…mentions the Saginaw Tribe for $3 million (yup…good answer).
  • Burns increases spending cap everytime except election years.

Burns:

  • “I am off my case now.”  ?  Talking points?
  • You have to stand for earmarks.
  • It’s not late at night.

Mike to Tester.  Health care: why no specifics on what we are proposing?

Tester:

  • Mentions his work in the Montana Senate.  Need to look at all solutions, *all* solutions.
  • No real answer here, mentions some vague options.

Burns:

  • Didn’t hear a solution.  The solution is the marketplace, if you allow it to work.
  • Medicare, Part D, works.  (Ugh!)  It is working!  People are getting their medicine now.
  • Repeats the small business stuff.  Guess who stopped it?  The Democrats!

Tester:

  • Burns doens’t understand the problem.
  • Marketplace hasn’t been working.
  • Solid answers here.

Chuck to Burns: Due to Jack A, Why no ethics reform?

Burns:

  • I support McCain’s lobbying bill.  We can pass it if we get a chance.
  • Lobbying is a part of government.  We have lobbying in Montana.  We have always done it.  “The folks from Montana ride first class when they come into my office.”

Tester:

  • Burns gets first class travel.  (Good travel).
  • Burns gets money and changes votes.
  • I have a set of ethics standards.  He sounds great here.  Good, specific proposals.

Burns:

  • You pay for all of the travel that you take.  (First class ticket price…that’s a sham!)
  • I don’t think travel is on the website now.
  • We always a post a public calendar.
  • “Lightballs and sunshine.”

Jackie to Tester: Seniority matters.  Why oust Burns?

Tester:

  • It’s a big issue.  Specifc comparisons for other states.  Ranked low.  Burns is 5 worst senators.

Burns:

  • Time is liberal!  Ted Kennedy is on top!
  • I ran against a senator with the position.  It’s “hard to buck.”

Tester:

  • Burns terms limits promise.  He violated it.  “it’s time for someone else.”

Mike to Burns:  Stem cells.  What is your position of public funding.

Burns:

  • Research is going on today and no positive results from it.  Only good stem cells is from adult stem cells.
  • Money needs to go to success.

Tester:

  • We should fund it.  Adult is good, but need more access to it.

Burns:

  • Jon has bad information.  It’s been going on a long time.

Ask each other time!

Tester to Burns: Your relationship with Jack A. is well documented.  You have taken more money than anyone else.  Mentions the vote change.

Burns:

  • I broke no law.
  • Jack is going to jail.
  • Nothing has changed.
  • Mariana is a protectorate.  We don’t make labor laws there.  Times change circumstances change.

Burns to Tester: Read the IR today.  All the untruths about me!  He is reading this.  Why don’t you support tax reform and simplification.

Tester:

  • Of course I support it, but I want to aim it to middle and lower classes.  Burns tax policies are based on deficit spending.  I am not about to put opportunities on the line to spend money like a drunken’ sailor.  (Great, great, great, aggressive answer.)

Chuck to Tester: You have been called each other names.  Let’s turn it around for this question.  Tell me something that you like about Burns.

Tester:

  • He has a nice wife. (Laughter)
  • He has a nice family.

Burns:

  • “Not to many things you don’t like about Jon Tester.”
  • “He is like Paul Welstone.”  “An ultra-liberal.”
  • UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH! UGH!
  • What an ASS!!!!!!

Jackie to Burns: Rocky Mountain Front.  Why did you change your position.

Burns:

  • Didn’t change.  I don’t like federal leases for it.

Tester:

  • What are you for?
  • Rocky Mountain Front is really important and has a diverse ecology.
  • We have many things we can use for energy to drill there.

Burns:

  • Sensitive areas.  There are gasses up there.  We can drill. (WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER???)

Mike to Tester: Are you a liberal?

Tester:

  • “You need to look at the budget is crafted and my priorities.”  We eliminated taxes.  We increased funding to eduction, energy and child health insurance.
  • Don’t label me.

Burns:

  • He raise taxes on 16,000 small businesses.  Why would you take money away from working families?  We need to make tax cuts permanent.

Tester:

  • Where you get figures?  You are pulling this out of the air.
  • We need to focus on the middle class.  The rich is getting richer, middle class poorer.

Follow-up to both candidates: Why are you ads full of half-truths?  Do you believe you ads?

Burns:

  • We research those ads and document them.
  • Look at all of them.

Tester:

  • Burns ads focus on my, my ads talk about ideas.
  • He ads are “hair cuts and gravy trains.”

Check to Burns:  Support war with Iran.

Burns:

  • No plans, and if so, I don’t support them.
  • No plans for Korea.  “Home-grown solution.”  Now is the time to tell China to “deal with Korea” or we cut off trade.
  • Iran has problems internally.  Iran exports more terrorism than any other country.

Tester:

  • I won’t support military action in Iran.
  • Iran is a direct result of Iraq.  Afghanistan is out of control.
  • We need to apply preasure.

Burns:

  • Must remind them of our deterrence.  We have “missiles in the ground.”  What?  MAFB plays a key role.

Jackie to Tester: Social security for needy or everyone.

Tester:

  • Social security working, through 2041.  Need to build it up.  Against private accounts.

Burns:

  • Solutions to Social Security is what we have to deal with.
  • I don’t like private accounts, but Tester says he would invest smarter from the trust fund.  Where would you invest? Another government?  I am fully supportive.

Tester:

  • Need solid, safe investments.  Not in other governments.  Foreign debt is bad.

Mike to Burns: Do you support Vets medical access restrictions?

Burns:

  • I have spent money!
  • I have brought money to Montana!
  • Didn’t answer the damn question at all.
  • Fort Harrison is in the top 5 of all the care you get.

Tester:

  • Need to support vets.
  • I advocate tax credits for vets.

Burns:

  • It’s fully funded.  The research (?) is fully funded.  We help vets that come to my office.

Chuck to Tester: Are you against all earmarks?

Tester:

  • No!  Just need them out in the public.
  • I don’t think that secret earmarks are right.

Burns:

  • Mr. Tester is flat wrong.  Saginaw wasn’t my earmark.  That’s the truth!  I make them defend it.

Tester:

  • The Burns story keeps changing.  The system needs changes.

Jackie to both: Would you support your kid to Iraq?

Burns:

  • It’s not to me to encourage my kids to go to war. But, they should do service.

Tester:

  • It needs to be the decision of my children.  That’s their call to make.

Mike to both: Which tax cuts do you support extending?

Conrad:

  • All!

Tester:

  • Marriage penalty and tuition tax credit.

Final remarks:

Tester:

  • This is an election about the future.  We have a bad situation in our country.  We have a lot of debt.  We have bad health care.  We have an energy “situation.”   You have a choice in this election.

Burns:

  • Tax cuts were the right thing.  Tester opposes those tax cuts.  Why oppose earmarks?  Makes a list.

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J N

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  • That post got cut off, I’ll finish it here:

    I was hoping to meet you both tonight, apparently you were watching on CSPAN instead of driving less than 5 miles to the airport.

    Seriously, thanks for the great coverage guys. As always, you guys rock.

  • It’s part of our mystique…we’re Montana’s unknown bloggers.

    Actually, I was teaching a class last night…and Jason had to take over the liveblog duties.

    Hopefully, someone undecided took our seats, because watching Tester and Burns in action would only lead a voter to one conclusion.

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