After the election, Congress plans to reauthorize Bush-era tax cuts. But Democrats want to let expire the break for Americans who make more than $200,000 a year. Murray said, "The top 2% of Americans are costing us a trillion dollars, [and if we do that] we will not have the resources to provide a skilled workforce."
Rossi responded that small business owners are among those who would have to pay the higher tax, saying, "We need to make sure that we don't have the biggest tax increase in American history because quite frankly it's going to kill more jobs. You take money away from the people who are creating jobs, they're going to have less to create jobs with. This is not too hard to figure out. But that's exactly how this works."
Murray, the Democrat, sang the praises of government action to repair the damage done by Wall Street, and touted her record of delivering federal dollars for the state's roads, colleges and businesses. "I'm working with your local leaders to provide the kinds of investments to create jobs, so you're strong again and our Main Street businesses kee their doors open," Murray said.
But Rossi, the Republican, contended that big government backed by Murray is the cause of the current crisis, not its solution. Citing the state's 17% functional unemployment rate--which includes the jobless and those underemployed--Rossi said businesses need stable regulation & low taxes to start hiring again. "It's not with more government, it's not with stimulus, it's not with the health-care plan. It's got to be with small business being more successful," he said.
Rossi said he's been listening to voters as he travels the state, noting conversations with struggling small-business owners and a 50-year-old man who nearly came to tears talking about being unemployed for two years.
Rossi accused Murray of heading to Congress with good intentions years ago but claimed she's changed since then to become a D.C. insider. He ripped her record as a prolific sponsor of earmarks, citing a Seattle Times report about former Murray staffers now cashing in on their connections as lobbyists, garnering nearly $20 million in earmarks for clients in a recent defense bill alone. "That's precisely what's wrong with Washington, D.C. That's what has to change," Rossi said.
Murray defended her record, and said Rossi would shortchange important Washington state projects with his call to halt earmarks and cut the federal budget.
Once again, the health-care overhaul was a point of controversy. Rossi noted that Murray said during the Spokane debate she'd read all 2,600 pages of the bill, and helped write it. He asked whether she was responsible for controversial parts of the law that raised taxes or hired "hordes and hordes of IRS agents" to administer it.
Murray fired back that she'd personally written a section of the law that provided money to train future family physicians. "Mr. Rossi is going to repeal that program and take that away," she said.
Murray touted her support for a law that would give such people a chance to be citizens after going to college or joining the military.
Rossi pointed to the health care overhaul and stimulus spending and said leaders are "moving down a path that is very dangerous."
"If we don't have a course correction in this election, I think we're going to wake up 24 months from now in a country that we don't even recognize," Rossi said.
Rossi said other concepts, like laws to limit lawsuits against doctors and allow people to purchase insurance across state lines, would have been better approaches. "You're losing your freedoms; you're losing your choices," Rossi said. "This potentially could bankrupt America and also impact Medicare, as well."
Murray said she believes the "don't ask, don't tell" policy should be tossed and that sexual orientation should not be cause to discharge anyone in the military.
Rossi said it's Murray-backed spending and policies like the recent federal health care legislation that endanger Social Security and other programs He also accused her of "class warfare" for wanting only to extend the tax cut for those earning less than $200,000.
"The biggest threat is going to be the debt--the debt that Sen. Murray has helped amass for this nation," Rossi said. "I don't think her spending is going to help us preserve Social Security for the future."
But Murray said she supports a timetable for withdrawal. Murray said. "We owe it to [military families] to know where and how long they're going to be there."
Murray was asked if she read the bill before voting on it. "Not only did I read it, I helped to write it," she said proudly. She said it is "not perfect" but is a step in the right direction to give individuals greater control of their health care.
Rossi is a real estate developer who has twice lost races for governor. Rossi, 50, lost to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire by 133 votes in 2004 after two recounts. He lost to her by nearly 200,000 votes in 2008. He is seeking to capitalize on anti-incumbent sentiment in a state that has voted Democrat the past six presidential elections.
Rossi hammered Murray as a 3-term incumbent who constantly voted for bigger government programs and more government control of business. "You have an 18-year incumbent killing jobs in the state of Washington in vote after vote," Rossi said. "I want to allow entrepreneurs to be successful."
As she has done throughout the campaign, Murray sought to paint Rossi as a friend to Wall Street & big banks. Rossi, a real estate developer, branded Murray as a big-spending liberal. The candidates referred constantly to the fight over extending the 2001 & 2003 tax cuts to individuals making more than $200,000
Murray, following her usual strategy of limiting debates, has agreed to just two--one in Spokane and one in Seattle. Murray declined an invitation to a debate sponsored by KING 5, The Seattle Times, KIRO Radio and Northwest Cable News. The KING 5 station manager said the debate was aimed for a prime time slot around Oct. 15. He said organizers would have tried to be flexible to accommodate Murray's schedule. But she still refused.
Rossi released an "open letter" to voters, criticizing Murray for shunning additional debates: "Sen. Murray is shortchanging you and the other
The above quotations are from 2010 Washington Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Washington Senate Debates.
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