Friday, October 01, 2004

Wisconsin Senate Debate Live Blogging

by Tom Bozzo

Michels' opening statement diminishes expectations for his performance. Democracy in Iraq would be the biggest development "in his lifetime." Is he 14?

Michels: Did you know there have been no terrorist attacks in the last three years? Repeated ad nauseam. Possible drinking game theme.

Michels, no sweat over civil liberties issues with the USA PATRIOT Act. Would vote yes on any renewal. Feingold swings back with court case ruling provisions unconstitutional.

Feingold lists numerous accomplishments in job creation, retaining Wisconsin jobs. Michels created 1000 jobs himself! Says he might be the most job creating candidate in the whole country.

Trade agreements:
Michels is pro free trade, except when he will need to revoke it. Feingold says Michels is for and against trade agreements, Feingold has consistent trade record.

Michels is against Australian free trade agreement. So long Big Pharma money.

Michels is 'disciplined.' Knows top, middle, and bottom lines! Economy was strong in 2000. If we could grow it, less taxes, less regulation, path back to budget surplus. Obviously didn't get the program on the economy being strong and getting stronger.
Feingold says this was tried and failed in the 80s, he is a deficit hawk, but notes support for middle class tax cuts.

Campaign finance:
Asked whether money is still the bottom line in politics, Feingold says McCain-Feingold wasn't meant to solve everything, but has removed some abuses, wants to regulate 527s. Accuses Michels of wanting to go back to bad old days.
Michels: Admits that Feingold showed leadership, complains about Soros, but doesn't like restrictions on First Amendment rights (help, Wisconsin Right to Life!).

Standard of truth for campaign ads:
Michels goes to church and his "word is good" -- will never do anything less than truthful. (Fact check: Not.)
Feingold notes that Michels wouldn't sign clean campaign pledge for general elections, cites editorials about dishonest Michels prescription drug ad. Notes Michels' flip-flops on health care.

How to get stuff passed as minority member:
Feingold notes McCain-Feingold, noted (before question) bipartisan sponsorship of drug import legislation. Known as aisle-crosser.
Michels "not a diehard Republican"? Thinks going to Mars isn't a great idea in this fiscal environment.

Health care cost containment:
Michels' business has above average premium cost growth. Way above average. But does not want socialized medicine, because that would be inefficient, thinks more privatization would be the solution.
Feingold: Wants universal health care, managed by states. "Tommy Thompson style" like welfare reform. Michels' targeted approach is "weak tea."

Stem cells:
Feingold thinks stem cell research should be expanded, cites UW-Madison involvement in the field. "Only pro-Wisconsin position" is encourage appropriate research.
Michels is pro-stem cells, but against embryonic stem cells, which is pro-abortionist. Makes very strong and almost surely scientifically unsupported assertions about the relative effectiveness of embryonic vs. other stem cell research.

Gas prices:
High prices affect "the wife's ability to go to the grocery store." (Guess those primary ads were expensive.) Wants to tap into more domestic resources, thinks we can take $15-20 of "fear" out of the price of a barrel of oil.
Feingold: cites Iraq as source of political risk premium. Cites work with Paul Ryan on simplifying fuel formulation rules.

Gun control:
They agree on something. But if you want to shoot something, call Michels.

Michels, different perspective. Feingold is a politician. I'm a businessman who wants to be a politician.
Feingold stresses his independence, willingness to look beyond labels for quality of legislation.


Michels eventually settled down, but provided no real reason to vote for him. Feingold hit Michels' poor command of the issues and of Feingold's real record, and Michels barely replied. In the end, Feingold was the senator and Michels the guy who should stick to his construction business -- but he should really shop around for a better health plan.
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