Dirk Thunderstone: Hello, I'm Dirk Thunderstone of FOX-15. Welcome to a special U.S. Congressional debate co-presented by public radio station 89.3 KWOT. Joining me to ask questions is Steve Larmer. He is a news editor at KWOT and host of his own weekly political show. Thanks for being here.
Steve Larmer: Hello.
Thunderstone: And of course, we have our candidates: the incumbent Republican Representative Jack Kimble, seeking his third term. Senator, thank you for being here.
Jack Kimble: Thank you, Dirk.
Thunderstone: And his challenger is the Democrat Daniel Fagen, who I must add is here against doctor's wishes after donating a kidney earlier this afternoon. Mister Fagen is joining us from St. Kilian's Hospital where his is under close observation and heavily medicated. Are you feeling up to this Dan?
Daniel Fagen: I'm on the road to recovery Dirk. I am very strong pain medication right now and I'm feeling a bit groggy and a little gas pain and bloating. I have a catheter draining urine from my bladder to a collecting bag in order to measure my remaining kidney’s urine output. I'm ready to debate though.
Thunderstone: So, Congressman Kimble has opted to take the first question in our debate. The second question will go to Daniel Fagen.
Daniel Fagen: Oh good....Ah....ooh
Larmer: Mister Kimble, on the economy and jobs, you are a big advocate of cutting government regulation of business. Can you give us some examples of regulations that you think should be reduced, or eliminated? Would you include any regulations designed to protect the environment, worker safety or product quality?
Kimble: Well certainly there are many reasons for a rational regulatory policy. But unfortunately we see too many cases where regulations have run amok, and they are costing us jobs. Let us look at coal mining.
For years, coal mining has created jobless for millions of Americans regardless of hygene or dental health. From the Appalachian Mountains to the great Magnesium mines of our district, miners have gone into the ground to fuel our economy knowing that their life would be tough, but at the same time that the desire to get away from their backwards lifestyle would drive one of their children to the NFL.
Now, mining has been regulated to the point where all the adventure has been taken out in the name of safety. Companies find their hands tied by regulations. You know the Chinese aren't concerned with such niceties. Their word for mining disaster is the same as their word for opportunity.
Larmer: Excuse me for the–
Kimble: The same word as opportunity
Larmer: Excuse me for the interruption, but are you saying that our mines are too safe?
Kimble: Yes I am. I'm using this example to say that when we have something like the Endangered Species Act, is just one example, of course we need to protect our endangered species. But many of them are really good eating. We should focus more of our attention on animals that aren't very tasty.
Thunderstone: Sir, here, I do want to ask you a tax question, I'm sure we'll get into that. In 2006, at the Ponds Institute, you said that an Internet tax was probably unrealistic not to tax it forever and ever. How would you institute an Internet tax, and when would it begin?
Kimble: Well, I have never been in favor of an Internet tax. I said it's a bad idea.
Thunderstone: But you said it's inevitable.
Kimble: What I said was, in the year 2006, you must remember that in the year 2006, at that time, sort of at the height of the dot-com boom, the concern that many Republicans, as well as Democrats had – it turned out to be an unfounded concern – was that brick-and-mortar businesses were going out of business and that everything was going to go onto the Internet, and so there was a concern that tax revenue would plummet.
It turned out to be an unfounded concern. I was working on a bipartisan basis to try and find the right answer, and what I said at the time was that the only way we should ever consider taxing the Internet, something I oppose, was to first overhaul the entire tax system. Those were very different times.
Thunderstone: All right.
Kimble: You know if I can quote Bobby Knight, "I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it."
Thunderstone: Good Lord...Uhm thank you Congressman,
Larmer: Mister Fagen, also on the economy, some liberal economists are saying that the economy is so weak that we need another large-scale government stimulus package. Do you agree with them? And if so, why this package wasn't enough.
Fagen: Very good question. I would answer it this way. When President Obama took over and the Democrats joined him in the Congress, they were facing a bleeding of 700,000 jobs a month. They were facing a situation where credit was frozen, and so they stepped forward and over Congressman Kimble's objections they did pass– they took a number of actions.
They did pass a stimulus and I believe it saved us from a Great Depression, but in trying to reach out to the Republicans, Congress made it too small. I would like to see a targeted stimulus package. People are suffering. From 99ers who are cut off from unemployment benefits to...
Larmer: Mister Fagen, excuse me for the interruption–
Fagen: Yes. Yes, certainly.
Larmer: But, after those two years of a Democrat in the White House administration, we are saddled with a federal deficit around $1.3 trillion. What will you do as a member of this Senate to shrink this deficit?
Fagen: Yes. That is what was inherited from George Bush. He took a Clinton surplus and 23 million jobs created and we were handed that $1.3 trillion deficit, and I do have many ideas, but you can't fight two wars cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and do Medicare Part D at the same time and not create a huge deficit.
You’ve got to cut out the wasteful spending. We've got to end the two wars. That will be a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. You've got to recover money from contractors who are ripping us off, like Halliburton overcharged $200 million for fuel for our troops in Iraq. So we can gain about a trillion on that.
Thunderstone: A trillion dollars. Yes, that'll help to pay down this deficit. But the ongoing concerns are about what problems must be cut or scaled back in order to meet these deficit concerns. Apart from what you’re talking about, where are these cuts to be made?
Fagen: The war will be a trillion dollars; collecting from people who are ripping off the government and other uncollected payments to the government is another trillion dollars. Stopping tax breaks to the millionaires, and the billionaires, tax breaks that my opponent supports – that’s almost another trillion. So you go on and on. We should end tax breaks to companies who ship jobs overseas.
Larmer(crosstalk): Would you cut federal spending, senator?
Fagen (crosstalk): Tax breaks that– yes.
Larmer: Would you cut federal spending, would you freeze the pay of civilian government workers? Those are ideas from Congressman Kimble
Fagen: Yes. I’ve seen his budget recommendations – they're a disaster for California. They would cause draconian cuts in Social Security and Medicare, and that's not from me, it's form the Center on Budget Priorities. He said he actually wants to fine the unemployed. If they're unemployed how are they going to get the [Fart]....I'm sorry I'm still very gassy from the operation.
Thunderstone (crosstalk): All right. Let's– Senator, let me go to Miss–
Fagen (crosstalk): So, we are very different on this, yes.
Thunderstone: Let me go to Congressman Kimble, then, and find out how different you are. Congressman Kimble you talk about extending the Bush tax cuts to everyone, also cutting the deficit. There have been analysts, including the Tax Policy Center, that said you cannot do both at the same time without virtually shutting down most of government. Where do you make those cuts to make both of those things happen?
Kimble: Well, let me respond to a couple things that Daniel Fagen said. First of all, with, I am not an apologist for the spending in the Bush years, but let us remember that our deficit has grown to $13 trillion in just the last two years. Obama never should have started counting the wars in the budget. Let us remember that, with regard to the stimulus, both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have said it was a failure, and since the stimulus bill passed. My opponent loves to talk about my record, but what about his record? Why as a Life Source pilot, do so many of the patients who fly with him die?
Thunderstone: Apart from his record, where is it that you would cut? Would you cut the military? Would you cut Social Security? Would you cut Medicare? Homeland Security has accounted for some of the biggest federal growth in the last 10 years.
Kimble: We need to keep Homeland Security strong. I believe al-qaeda is currently trying to infiltrate our retirement homes. This is not a time for being lax.
Where would I cut? First, let's recognize that the unemployed are a drain on our economy and start fining them. I also know that the greatest way to cut the economy is to lower taxes on the wealthy so I would reduce taxes on the top 33% of the country to 0.01% I would call on the federal government as well to only hire one person for every two that leave government service and I would ask that that person be Chinese. They are damn good workers.
Fagen: Oh I think I saw a butterfly
Thunderstone: Mister Fagen, please do not interrupt. You will have a chance to discuss your own opinions.
Fagen: The colors
Larmer: Oh my
Thunderstone: Congressman, thank you very much. It appears that Mr. Fagen is under the effects of his pain medication and we are going to wrap up the debate early. Would you like to make a closing statement.
Fagen: Weee! I farted again.
Kimble: Well thanks so much to all of you for this opportunity. I am sorry that the people of the 54th District were cheated because of Mister Fagen's condition. Donating a kidney, frankly is elective surgery.
You know, in my working life I started out in the olive fields, I was held accountable for my work by my boss who as my father was particularly tough on me. And when I became his vice-president after many, many weeks of hard work, I was held accountable by millions of customers, and thousands of employees.
I am the best chance this district has for fighting the Obama agenda and returning our country back to the way it was in the 19th century. Our farmers still don’t have water, our children aren’t getting educated well, our small businesses are being crushed. People can’t find a job. Our debt is spiraling out of control.
Do you really believe a teacher by day Life Source helicopter pilot by night who runs a string of shelters for abused women and children will stand up to Obama? I don't. We can get out economy going again, we can help small businesses begin hiring again, we can become the most innovative district in the most innovateve state and the most innovative nation in the world again, and we can change Washington and hold them accountable, but first we have to change the people we send to Washington except for me who should be sent back to Washington..
Thunderstone: Quickly, Congressman
Kimble: You got that I should be sent back to Washington, right?
Thunderstone: Yes, Mister Fagen are you up to making a closing statement?.
Fagen: One second [Fart] Ah, yes I am. I'm groggy and I'm sorry that I'm so gassy today. I am sure that the press's main story will be about what a mess I was tonight, but despite this nothing has come out of any of my of my orifice's as revolting as what has been spewed forth by Jack Kimble.
The Congressman isn't a bad guy, but he's clueless as to the needs of this district. He may currently be getting answers from one of the Super Mario Brothers or that may be my medication, but in either case those answers are wrong for the 54th District. I'm losing and I'm losing bad. If I had a fighting chance, I might have put off this operation, but I tell you this, we will rise up and the people of this district will be heard. I want Jello. Cherry or Lime please.
Thunderstone: Ms. Fagen, thank you very much. Hope you feel better. Congressman Kimble, it's been a pleasure. My thanks too to Steve Larmer. This special U.S. Senate debate presented by La Opinion and 89.3 KWOT in Groves Hill. Don't forget, Election Day is November 2. Beginning next week, you can request those vote-by-mail ballots. Either way, be sure to vote. I'm Dirk Thunderstone. On behalf of my colleague, Steve Larmer, and the candidates, Jack Kimble and Daniel Fagen, thank you all very much for listening.