by Javier ManjarresCongressman Ron Klein and retired Lt. Colonel Allen West had their first debate in their battle for Klein’s Congressional seat in District 22. Local 10’s Michael Putney moderated the debate and drew out some very important distinctions between the two candidates.
For starters, Congressman Klein reiterated his support of the TARP and the Obama Administration’s disastrous stimulus plan, while West strongly articulated his opposition to both the TARP and the Stimulus. Congressman Klein, like West, also said that he believes that small business need to be the beneficiaries of the tax cuts- Klein is one a growing number of Democrats in Congress that now support keeping the Bush Tax Cuts in place.
The difference between the two candidates on the tax cut issue is very clear. West believes that there should be tax cuts across the board and the Government need to stay out of the way of businesses ability to create jobs and grow the economy-taxes stifle job growth. West also believes that the capital gains tax issue, as well as many other tax issues, need to be aggressively addressed.
Congressman Klein on the other hand has a different view of this, asserting that until business can get back on their feet after this meltdown, “Government needs to step in on a temporary basis.”
West countered by explaining that over the course of economic history, when taxes are cut and government stays clear of the process, the economy prospers.When Putney brought up West’s service in Iraq, and specifically an incident in which West was accused of using ‘torturous’ tactics to extract information from a suspected terrorist that had intelligence on planned ambushes against American soldiers, West took responsibility for his actions and stated that his job as an officer was to look out for his men’s well-being.
Klein did not criticized West on his actions, he praised West for his military service, but he also came across very skittishly and stuttered his way through his explanation as to what soldiers face on the battlefield, as he attempted to try and make the case for his support the Military.
On the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Congressman Klein supports repealing it, while West does not support repeal. As far as the President’s proposed pull back of troops in Afghanistan, Klein supports a measured pull back, as long as the commanders on the ground say so. West on the other hand, does not support any kind of timetable for withdrawal. West stated that the Taliban only “respect strength and might”, and that they (Taliban) cannot be trusted to negotiate.
This debate was very respectful in tone compared the debate between David Rivera(R) and Joe Garcia (D) that followed, but West clearly showed that he was more in command of the debate and simply out-classed Congressman Ron Klein with his knowledge of the issues and the clear sense of purpose he exuded.