Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Democrats and Republicans are very far apart on many issues in this election year, and that was evident at the 7th Congressional District debate at Myrtle Beach High School on Wednesday night.
In 17 days, voters in the eight counties that make up the new district will choose either Gloria Bromell Tinubu, the Democrat, or Tom Rice, the Republican.
One thing both candidates agree on is the importance of the choice.
“This is one of the most important elections we’ll face in our lifetimes,” Tinubu said.
“This is a critical election,” Rice said. “The future of the country is at stake.”
The economy and jobs were major themes throughout the one-hour event.
Rice believes smaller government, fewer regulations, lower taxes – especially the corporate tax rate – will help create jobs.
“We’re handicapping our businesses and making them less competitive worldwide,” Rice said. “If we kneecap them with higher taxes they can’t stay in business competing with their competitors worldwide.”
Tinubu touted investing in education, training and infrastructure as a way to help the economy.
“We have to provide a first-class or world class educational and training system for all our citizens, from pre-K through college,” she said.
When Rice remarked that he would hire an experienced economic development advisor if elected, Tinubu reminded everyone that she was an economic development expert.
Both agreed that the Port of Georgetown needs to be dredged, and something needs to be done about Social Security before it goes bankrupt.
Rice said he didn’t support unions, touting South Carolina as a right-to-work state. Tinubu said the state has been right-to-work state for almost 60 years and continues to be at the bottom of every economic indicator.
Tinubu would support an extension of unemployment benefits. Rice would not, and would like to see a work requirement.
“It’s wrong to encourage and continue a dependency culture,” Rice said.
One word – “socialism” – uttered by Rice about 40 minutes into the debate, seemed to make both candidates a little more combative from then on.
In response to a rather innocent sounding question – whether the person at the top of their tickets was helping or hurting – Rice said he was “comfortable” with Romney and attacked the President Obama’s leadership.
“We really don’t have a foreign policy right now,” Rice said. “What you see happening around the world is a result of lack of leadership. America needs to lead. I think people look to us to lead.”
“I believe the president believes in economics as I understand it,” Tinubu responded. “That is management of our resources for the long-term benefit of all.”
“The management of our assets for the benefit of all sounds a lot like socialism to me,” Rice said to a round of wild applause from the audience.
“Aren’t you really tired of that phrase socialism?,” Tinubu asked. “Government is a social enterprise, it’s us coming together as society, saying there are things we have to do together we can’t do ourselves.”
The candidates differed on whether, if given the chance, they would vote to abolish the Affordable Health Care Act.
Tinubu would not, because she believes people shouldn’t have to go bankrupt to deal with a health care crisis.
“It’s unconscionable,” she said.
Although he supports the sections dealing with preexisting conditions and keeping kids on their parents insurance until they’re 26, Rice called the whole plan “dramatic overreach” and said he would “absolutely” vote to repeal it.
“How can it be a good thing for government to run our health care?” Rice asked. How can it be a good thing for government to make our health care decisions for us?”
After the debate, both candidates were pleased with their performances.
“I feel comfortable with what happened,” Rice said.
“It was a good exchange,” Tinubu said. “I wish we had more time to fully express or feelings about issues.”
Both said the only poll that matters is on Nov. 6.
By Chris Sokoloski