Monday, Aug. 22, 2011 | 5:44 p.m.
The two frontrunners in the Sept. 13 special election taped a lively hour-long debate Monday, disagreeing over everything from tax policy to the United States' role in Libya and how best to create jobs.
Democrat Kate Marshall accused her Republican opponent Mark Amodei of “fundamentally misunderstanding the Middle East” and of failing to pass legislation to create jobs during his three terms in the Nevada Senate.
Amodei pulled more punches during the debate, focusing more on defending his own record. But he accused Marshall of being disingenuous in her campaign ads.
The debate will be aired at 6:30 p.m. tonight and Tuesday on "Face to Face With Jon Ralston". Independent American Tim Fasano and non-partisan candidate Helmuth Lehmann, who also are competing for the 2nd Congressional District seat, did not participate in the debate.
As rebel troops closed in on the Libyan capital of Tripoli, both Marshall and Amodei criticized President Obama’s handling of the war there. Amodei confirmed his earlier position that Obama violated the War Powers Act by failing to seek Congress’ permission to engage in hostilities with Libya.
Marshall said disagree Obama violated the War Powers Resolution because he did not send troops into the country. The U.S. role in enforcing the no fly zone in Libya also has largely been turned over to NATO.
But Marshall was still critical of Obama’s handling of conflict in Libya.
“The indecisiveness and the delay led to an initial disadvantage and led to many more lives being killed,” Marshall said.
She criticized Amodei for his position that the United States develop a strong embassy presence in Libya immediately, saying it would be best for the U.S. to work first through an intermediary with better ties to Libya.
Marshall and Amodei once again went rounds on how to save Medicare costs, with Amodei favoring a much more aggressive approach to ensuring the program remains solvent.
Marshall repeated her platform that allowing the program to negotiate better prices for prescription drugs would save millions of dollars. She disagreed that benefits should be trimmed.
Amodei, on the other hand, said he would be willing to consider increasing the eligibility age for younger Americans and would “change the structure of benefits” for future recipients.
Such aggressive measures are needed to ensure “we have a program in 75 years,” he said.
On taxes, Marshall once again took a two-pronged approach to attacking Amodei, hammering for his 2003 support for a $1 billion increase in state taxes while also criticizing his decision to sign a pledge promising not to raise taxes if he’s elected to Congress. That pledge would prevent him from closing corporate loopholes, she said.
Late last week, Amodei signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge a second time, renewing his promise not to raise taxes.
Marshall said she would have voted against the tax increase passed in 2003 by the Nevada Legislature because it included a payroll tax, which she sees as creating a disincentive for employers to hire.
“Thank you, Mr. Amodei,” she quipped, blaming him for the modified business tax that taxes payrolls in Nevada.
Pressed on the issue, however, Marshall said she would have put together “a completely different plan” for raising enough revenue to fund education in Nevada.
The two candidates also disagreed on government's role in job creation. Marshall touted her legislation passed earlier this year that will allow the state to invest in businesses that move to or expand in Nevada and complained that Amodei never proposed a “jobs bill” while he was a state senator.
Amodei shot back that a jobs bill wasn’t needed during his time in the Legislature, when the state’s economy was humming and unemployment was at all time low. He credited Republican control of the Senate with passing business-friendly policies at the time.