April 23, 2014

Final Senate debate shows few differences

The four candidates in the Republican U.S. Senate primary met Friday night for the final time before next Tuesday’s election. The economy and health care dominated much of the debate on Wisconsin Public Television and Milwaukee TV.

Each candidate offered similar ideas on how to cut government spending and reduce the tax burden, with former Congressman Mark Neumann arguing businesses need more freedom. Neumann says “the single most important thing that government could do to help business today is plain get out of the way.”

Former Governor Tommy Thompson joined his opponents in saying he would vote against bailing out private businesses through another stimulus, saying allowing the president to “pick and choose the winners” just puts taxpayers on the hook.

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald argues a simplified tax code and a flat tax would help solve many of the current problems. He’s proposing a tax rate of 10 percent for individuals or married couples making up to $100,000, and 25 percent for those above that level.

Businessman Eric Hovde continued his push to lower corporate tax rates and close loopholes for certain businesses. Hovde says it’s “cronyism at its worst.”

On health care, each of the candidates agreed that the reforms passed under President Obama need to be repealed in full.

Neumann says decisions about insurance plans should be left up to businesses and their employees, and the government should be “kept out of our boardrooms” in mandating coverage.

Hovde says government involvement is the main driver of health care costs, so more mandates are not the answer.

Thompson says a safety net exists for those in dire need through programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. He says all Americans are willing to help those who are in desperate need, but there needs to be more personal responsibility for others who should have some “skin in the game.”

Fitzgerald says existing programs are there for the neediest, and private health exchanges would bring market based factors back into health care.

All four candidates held off on personal attacks through the debate, only saying their own experiences are what should set them apart on August 14th.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (2:25)