Debate shows 2nd District candidates' contrasting views
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
10/30/12 at 7:59 AM
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CLAREMORE - After weeks of hurling brickbats from afar, 2nd Congressional District candidates Rob Wallace and Markwayne Mullin found themselves on the same stage Monday night.
Wallace, the Democrat, got in a few digs at his Republican foe, but the 30-minute debate for Rogers State University television was by any standard remarkably restrained. No histrionics; no bold accusations; no 10 paces at dawn.
Their differences on policy were sometimes significant if not often huge.
Mullin wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Wallace said the federal health-care law is "too big and too expensive" but that a repeal will never get through the U.S. Senate, so Congress might as well fix it.
Mullin said the health-care law is the No. 1 threat to the nation's economy. Wallace said the No. 1 threat is the national debt.
Mullin said cutting spending is the key to getting on top of the debt. Wallace said the key is putting more people to work.
Wallace went after Wall Street and big business. Mullin went after big government.
They agreed that Social Security and Medicare are "a promise" that should be preserved and honored, but Wallace accused Mullin of wobbling on the issue.
"This is one of the places you can see a real difference in my opponent and me," Wallace said. "I've never made a statement that we should get government out of Social Security.
"Let me be clear. I am against the privatization of Social Security. I am against turning Medicare into a voucher system."
The implication was that Mullin had said he was for all of those things, which he has seemed to suggest at times, especially early in the campaign.
On Monday, Mullin blamed problems in those two programs on government mismanagement and people collecting benefits without paying into the system - which is illegal for both Social Security and Medicare.
"They're treating it like it's an entitlement, and its not. It's a promise, and we have to keep our promises," Mullin said.
He said he did not favor raising taxes to close the budget deficit, asking, "The government has proved it's not responsible with the money we're sending up there, so why should we send them more money?"
Wallace more or less agreed but said: "The key to being able to avoid raising taxes has got to be growth in the economy - and not growth on Wall Street. Not growth at the huge business level. Growth out here in the real world. Growth out here where small businesses can expand their payrolls. Growth out here so folks get money in their pockets who have to spend it on daily necessities."
Wallace worked in thinly veiled references to Mullin's criticism of the federal stimulus program after his company benefitted from it, his refusal to use a federal database called E-Verify to check his employees' immigration status, and his criticism of the Patriot Act, which Wallace, a former federal prosecutor, said is crucial to combating drug smuggling.
Mullin did not engage in similar verbal swordplay, except to poke Wallace with President Barack Obama.
"You definitely have a clear choice come Nov. 6," he said. "We're going to be choosing the president's agenda to get us toward a more socialist-style country or more toward the republic our founding fathers set up.
"We must understand that the person we pick (for the congressional seat) has to be willing to work with the president. Hopefully, that president is going to be Mitt Romney.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to go up there and work with someone who is moving this country forward, not defending our constitution against this president named President Barack Obama."
Original Print Headline: Debate draws out policy differences
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Democrat Rob Wallace (left) listens as Republican Markwayne Mullin answers a question during their 2nd Congressional District candidate debate at Rogers State University on Monday evening. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
Democrat Rob Wallace (left) and Republican Markwayne Mullin shake hands after their 2nd Congressional District candidate debate at Rogers State University on Monday evening. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World