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Senate candidates spar over budget

By Derrick DePledge


Former Gov. Linda Lingle challenged U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono on Thursday to explain why she voted for the Budget Control Act of 2011, which raised the debt ceiling and avoided a government default but also created the possibility of automatic spending cuts to national defense.

Automatic cuts to federal programs are scheduled to take effect in January unless Congress and the White House take other action to help with the federal deficit. The potential cuts were included in the law to press Congress toward a bipartisan compromise on deficit reduction.

Lingle said the automatic cuts could put the nation’s defense at risk.

“So how could you go along, regardless of who voted for it or not, why didn’t you do the right thing?” the Republican asked during a one-hour U.S. Senate debate on PBS Hawaii.

“It was either that or the country goes over the economic cliff,” Hirono, the Demo­crat, responded.

Hirono blamed tea party-backed House Republicans for pushing the nation toward a default by refusing to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts and deficit reduction.

The debate, moderated by political analyst Dan Boylan, had a loose format that often allowed the candidates to talk over each other, avoid direct answers and meander between issues. Boylan tried to keep the tone conversational, but the discussion was often unfocused.

Neither candidate strayed from policy positions they have outlined during the campaign or offered new distinctions that separate them.

Boylan opened the debate by bringing out a yellow Big Bird stuffed animal and asked whether people are serious about cutting federal money for public broadcasting, referencing a goal of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Hirono said Lingle indicated at a debate on Tuesday that she would cut money for public broadcasting.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my, aloha to Big Bird and, you know, the entire ‘Sesame Street’ gang,” Hirono said Thursday.

Lingle questioned whether spending on public broadcasting is essential in the context of potential threats to national defense, Social Security and Medicare.

“It is going to be very important for people to look across the spectrum of how we spend our money and set some priorities,” she said. “And I did say that I’m not sure that Big Bird is essential to the defense of America.”

The debate was the fourth of five debates between the candidates before the November election. The final debate, sponsored by Hawaii News Now and the Star-Advertiser, is scheduled for Monday.

Lingle, who is polling behind Hirono, has often been the aggressor in the debates. Her rhetoric against Hirono has become increasingly dismissive, describing the liberal congresswoman as not only ineffective, but uninformed and a risky choice for Hawaii.

But Lingle needs the support of independents and moderate Demo­crats, including those who will be voting for Hawaii-born President Barack Obama, so she has also used the debates to move closer to Hirono on critical issues such as Social Security and nominees to the Supreme Court.

Lingle now says that, like Hirono, she would not consider raising the retirement age in Social Security, contradicting a statement in late August that she would consider a gradual one-year increase in conjunction with some type of recognition for workers in physically demanding jobs.

Lingle now says that, like Hirono, she would not support a nominee to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. Lingle had said previously that no single issue would determine her vote.

“You’re right, I have a litmus test,” Lingle said. “If someone walked in and said, ‘Hey, if you appoint me to the court, I’m going to overturn Roe v. Wade,’ I’d have to say, ‘I’m sorry, you haven’t passed the litmus test.’ And I would not support them.”

Hirono, rather than blur the partisan lines, has sought to brighten them. She has consistently tied Lingle to the more conservative national Republicans who have fought Obama and would remove Hawaii Sen. Daniel Ino­uye as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee if they take control of the Senate.

“This is what this election is about — who will gain control of the United States Senate?” Hirono said.

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MalamaKaAina wrote:
I voted for Lingle!
on October 19,2012 | 01:40AM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
Anybody but Mazie!
on October 19,2012 | 01:40AM
wiliki wrote:
I cancel your vote.
on October 19,2012 | 05:16PM
st1d wrote:
and if you live in manoa you might be able to cancel another vote.
on October 19,2012 | 11:03PM
mischal wrote:
Mazie is a far left liberal who`s proud to have helped pass ObamaCare. You can count on her to vote straight party lines for higher taxes and more govt. control. Lingle for me, too.
on October 19,2012 | 02:01AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I vote for Ed Case.
on October 19,2012 | 03:49AM
Kawipoo wrote:
Mazie had no answer to anything. Just keep spending by kicking the can down the road. Who cares about the future? She doesn't. All she cares about is getting elected.
on October 19,2012 | 04:25AM
akuman808 wrote:
I understood that Bush and republicans drove the country over the economic and financial cliff in 2008??? So when the bus nosed dived into the canyon of debt and 8.1 unemployment before the President was sworn into office in 2009, why is Lingle questioning the effort to get to where we are today which is a big improvement from 2008? President Obama despite republican total opposition in the last 4 years, took the mess they created and has changed the trajectory of the country. It's hilarous that they have the audacity to blame the President for what they created, inherited a surplus and handed Obama a huge deficit. Oh well, I just voted for Obama and Cayetano, but did not vote for either of these candidates. False choices.
on October 19,2012 | 05:03AM
Smiley7 wrote:
Our military has been downsized to the point where we are no longer the force we were before. Coincidence or planned? Our vets deserve better and while lots are either homeless or jobless, not much is being done for them. All talk but no action is what we have been getting. Remember the threat about not paying the military when the budget couldn't be balanced? What about the real gem of having our service members pay for their medical benefits? Soon retirees will have your pensions and SS payments taxed fully taxed as income. All this and more from the fun loving Dems who enrich themselves while in office and blame everything on everybody else except themselves. And we call them "leaders"? Auwe!
on October 19,2012 | 05:11AM
akuman808 wrote:
You really need to fact check what you post. Google all the subjects you noted and get the real facts. After you do I will gladly engage with you on whatever facts you want to discuss. I'll be waiting!
on October 19,2012 | 06:55AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Please don't hold your breath... it could be dangerous.
on October 19,2012 | 09:59AM
wiliki wrote:
Especially when Peace has broken out. There's been widespread peace in the in the last 30 years. We need to start to build on that.
on October 19,2012 | 05:19PM
OldDiver wrote:
You must be kidding. We spend more on the military than all other nations combined.
on October 19,2012 | 06:57AM
livealoha wrote:
I can’t imagine anyone voting for Mazie after watching a debate. She is not clear in any of her answers. She will not make a good US Senator. Her entire platform is built on fear of the Republican Party and everyone is getting tired of it.
on October 19,2012 | 06:31AM
Kuniarr wrote:
No matter her performance in the debate, Hirono has a big lead in the polls.
on October 19,2012 | 11:01PM
McCully wrote:
Hirono is like a broken record, talking the same thing over and over. I think she needs a telepromter to talk about new things. Her record is a joke and has done nothing to help this state. I hope the voters do the right thing and vote for the right candidate and I don't mean Hirono.
on October 19,2012 | 07:18AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Kenny Rogers song The Gambler would have been apropo to Mazie. You gotta know when to hold them and know when to fold them. She could have a job for life if she had known when to hold.
on October 19,2012 | 07:20AM
DAGR81 wrote:
Don't blame Hazie Mazie...she is just following her marching orders
on October 19,2012 | 05:33PM
Papakolea wrote:
Mazie's whole platform is "Don't let the Republicans get control of the Senate so elect me!" I think we need more of a reason to elect someone to the Senate than voting against a party. We need someone who is going to be ore than an empty chair.
on October 19,2012 | 08:37AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
With the extremist agenda that the Republican party espouses, voting Democratic party makes all the sense in the world to people who care about Supreme Court justices and other judiciary appointments.
on October 19,2012 | 10:01AM
hawaiikone wrote:
With the extremist agenda that the Democratic party espouses, voting Republican party makes all the sense in the world to people who care about Supreme Court justices and other judiciary appointments. Both our comments make equal sense. It's too bad so little attention is given to the common ground.
on October 19,2012 | 12:34PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
I agree with everything you just said. We disagree on policy and philosophy.
on October 19,2012 | 01:34PM
Kuniarr wrote:
You are entitled to your opinion, DowntownGreen But what's this so-calleld "extremest agenda of the Republican party, DowntownGreen.
on October 19,2012 | 10:51PM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Interesting that you would ask Waipahu... especially since you are one of the leading proponents of it here in Hawaii. Why ask a question that you already know the answer?
on October 20,2012 | 07:38AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Yes, I am entitled to my opinion. And why would you ask a question that you already know the answer to?
on October 20,2012 | 09:06AM
cocobean wrote:
I don't like Mazie, and have never voted for her before. But after watching the Republican Congress in action these past 12 years, I'ld vote for her to just to keep the Senate out of their hands.
on October 19,2012 | 04:08PM
Mahukaawenui wrote:
Maize Hirono is an absolute tool of the left. She has no real idea of her own. After watching the debates it seems more and more obvious that the role of US Senator is way over her head. Beyond her prepared talking points she has no clue what is happening in our country. It will be a sad reflection on our state if she goes to the senate and I'm sure even the senate left will find it hard to give her the respect that a senator from our state deserves. She is one of the few in the House that has made DWS look smart. On the other hand Lingle will have respect from the start from both sides and anyone that thinks she is a right wing zealot has not paid attention to her political history..
on October 19,2012 | 09:16AM
wiliki wrote:
Mazie's heart is in the right place. Lingle has surprisingly little compassion for the less well off. She has to be dragged to supporting policies that Hirono supports. This shows how poorly Lingle thinks. Lingle may talk good but she says very little that makes sense.
on October 19,2012 | 05:23PM
Kuniarr wrote:
You say that Lingle talks good. Yet she thinks poorly and she says very little that makes sense? Amazing. Just amazing.
on October 19,2012 | 11:10PM
honupono wrote:
lingle is a tool for righties. Mazie will win.
on October 19,2012 | 09:37AM
HD36 wrote:
The automatic cuts don't put a dent in the National Deficit which stands at more than $16 trillion. Even in 2007 Comptroller for the United States Accounting and Budget Office, David Walker said the debt, then at $8 trillion was unsustainable. He was fired by Dick Cheney. Walker said his children would have to live a lower standard of living because of the debt burden this generation put on them. Trillions of dollars in printed stimulus, 40 billion a month to buy mortgage backed securities, and QE3 to infinity along with operation twist, bought us 5 more years, along with the European Crises keeping our dollar strong. Unfortunately, its not our kids who are going to see a much lower standard of living, it's going to start with us. These politicians must have taken Keynesian economics because they don't have a clue to how much government spending we need to cut in order to stave off an imminent collapse in the bond market and ultimately the US Dollar!
on October 20,2012 | 01:15AM
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