Brad Ellsworth in 2010 IN Senate Debates

On Free Trade: NAFTA has cost Indiana jobs

Ellsworth said Coats, who previously represented Indiana in the U.S. House and Senate, shouldn't have voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement because it cost the state jobs. Coats said open trade is important, and that trade barriers would hurt the state.

Coats said Ellsworth's support of Democratic programs such as the federal stimulus and health care overhaul are taking the country in the wrong direction.

Source: Washington Post coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 25, 2010

On Social Security: Don't raise the retirement age; put people to work instead

Coats said Social Security needs to be "saved from itself" and suggested increasing the retirement age and looking at other options to fix the program.

Ellsworth said now isn't the time to raise the retirement age and that putting more people back to work would put more money into the system. Raising the retirement age would be fine for those who work at desks but "it's not fine for somebody who's on the end of a jackhammer," he said.

Source: Washington Post coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 25, 2010

On Abortion: Taxpayer money ok for abortions

Both support extending tax cuts for small businesses. Both are also anti-abortion and in favor of gun rights.

Ellsworth even earned an endorsement from the National Rifle Association because Coats voted in 1991 for the Brady Bill to institute federal background checks for most gun purchases.

Coats said he earned an endorsement from the Indiana and National Right to Life organization, mostly because Ellsworth voted for a health care law that did not prohibit taxpayer money being used for abortions.

Source: News & Tribune coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 24, 2010

On Budget & Economy: Stimulus legislation prevented going into a depression

Coats has criticized Ellsworth for voting in favor of the health care overhaul and stimulus programs. Ellsworth believes the stimulus legislation prevented a worse situation. "We made drastic improvements to save us from going into a depression," Ellsworth said.

Coats said voters are unhappy with federal government, and he accuses Ellsworth of being lockstep with his party leaders. "Clearly, a lot of Hoosiers are not happy with what's come out of Washington these last two years. 90% of what's come out has been supported by my opponent," Coats said. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for change in Washington."

Ellsworth said Coats' claim that he has voted in line with Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 90% of the time is misleading He said those votes could include anything from naming a post office to honoring a sports team. "I have one of the most independent voting records in Congress, and I had a more conservative voting record than four Republicans," Ellsworth said.

Source: News & Tribune coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 24, 2010

On Budget & Economy: Voted for bailout, health care law and stimulus bill

Ellsworth attacked Coats for the years he spent lobbying in Washington saying the former senator took stands on issues--including the bank bailout and stimulus funding--based on who paid his law firm the most money. "That's not right for Hoosiers," Ellsworth said. "We need people who stand up for us, for Hoosiers and base their decisions on what they hear only from the people back home."

Coats battled back, saying that it was his law firm--not him personally--who represented clients on those issues. He pointed instead at Ellsworth, saying that the Democrat's votes for the bailout, health care law and stimulus bill put the country in almost insurmountable debt. "I can understand that someone who went to Washington talking like a conservative here at home--but followed the agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama nearly 90% of the time--would not want to come home and talk about that," Coats said.

Source: Louisville Courier-Transcript on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Energy & Oil: Cap-and-trade would put Hoosiers out of work

Coats and Ellsworth had a particularly testy exchange during a question about energy policy, even though both agreed there should be more investment in clean energy.

Ellsworth alleged Coats pushed for the cap-and-trade legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions during his former role as a lobbyist. "Even though Mr. Coats comes back to Indiana and tells Hoosiers he's against the legislation and it would be devastating and a job killer, what if it would have passed, Mr. Coats?" Ellsworth said. "We would have put Americans and Hoosiers out of work based on your lobbying efforts."

Coats responded that Ellsworth was wrong but didn't elaborate.

Source: Boston Globe coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Energy & Oil: Supports nuclear, solar, & clean coal, but not cap-&-trade

The candidates were asked about clean energy and whether they could support incentives for biofuels and wind energy. Coats said the country needs to expand its use of natural gas and nuclear energy to become more independent and lower costs. "If we want clean energy and low cost energy, we need to develop nuclear power," something he said can be done safely.

But Coats said governments must be careful not to choose the winning and losing technologies by subsidizing selected options. "Government and subsidies and politics destroys the whole process," he said.

Ellsworth said the nation needs to invest in a whole range of energy options--including nuclear power, wind and solar, and clean-coal technology. But Ellsworth said opposes President Barack Obama's cap-and-trade energy bill, which he fears will lead to higher rates for Hoosier households and businesses.

Source: Louisville Courier-Transcript on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Tax Reform: Take away some of the hundreds of tax breaks & exemptions

Viewers learned that Ellsworth and his wife do their own taxes, but that the Democrat believes the tax code needs to be simpler. He said after the debate that Congress needs to consider taking away some of the hundreds of tax breaks, exemptions and other provisions that force small business owners to hire accountants to determine what they owe the government.

Ellsworth said he'd met with advocates for the FairTax, a proposal to essentially wipe out all existing federal taxes and replace them with a 23% sales tax. Individuals and businesses need "to know what to expect for years" from their tax bills, Ellsworth said.

Coats said he's open to the FairTax--but as just one idea among many to explore for making the tax code easier to understand. The tax system needs to be "fairer, flatter, simpler, and there a number of proposals out there that are sensible to take a look at." But Coats said he could not support a value-added tax.

Source: Louisville Courier-Transcript on 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 22, 2010

On Principles & Values: Coats negotiated lobbying job while still a Senator

Ellsworth accused Coats of negotiating his deal to join the law and lobbying firm Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand in 1998, when he was still a senator. Coats replied that Sens. George Mitchell and Bob Dole at the firm both contacted him an said they wanted to talk to him when he left the Senate.

Coats went on to say, "I said, 'Under the laws, I'm not able to negotiate anything." But Coats was still in the Senate when his office announced in Dec. 1998 that he planned on joining the firm.

[A Democratic spokesman] called Coats' assertion a "bald-faced lie." The spokesman stopped short of saying Coats violated any ethics rules. He said the "laws" Coats alluded to in his debate response were not in place when Coats was in the Senate. Coats may not have broken any rules, the spokesman said, but did lie "because he knows that his position as a lobbyist and the fact that he took advantage of the revolving door in Washington is a vulnerability to his campaign."

Source: Columbus Republic coverage of 2010 Indiana Senate debate Oct 12, 2010

The above quotations are from 2010 Indiana Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Indiana Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts by Brad Ellsworth.
Click here for a profile of Brad Ellsworth.
Brad Ellsworth on other issues:
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform
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Page last updated: Nov 01, 2010