by Javier ManjarresToday’s televised congressional ‘debate’ between Democrat Joe Garcia and Republican David Rivera could have easily been mistaken for two children arguing over toys at the sandlot. For most viewers, it was probably difficult to understand the context of either candidates’ accusations and gripes, and both men’s disruptiveness towards each other could not be controlled by the moderator, Local 10’s Michael Putney.
The issue of the negative ads that both candidates have been airing on television was the first topic addressed. Garcia accused Rivera of raising taxes while budget chief in Tallahassee, accepting three billion in Stimulus dollars while opposing Obama’s stimulus plan to balance the budget, and accused Rivera of supporting ‘pork’ projects in the district and across the state.
Rivera responded by calling these allegations false, and explained that he was not the ‘full’ budget chair in the state legislature until this year. Rivera said that he helped balance the budget by cutting taxes, and voting for a surcharge to every pack of cigarettes-this surcharge is considered by many as a tax increase. (Rivera TV Ad)
Rivera wholeheartedly opposes Obamacare saying that it is a “raid on Social Security.” Rivera also states that the popular Medicare Advantage program will be fazed out in the new Obama healthcare plan. Garcia acknowleged that the Medicare Advantage program would indeed be fazed out, but cited that there were other programs that are just as beneficial to seniors.
On the less publicized, but very important issue of free trade to Cuba, an issue that is near and dear to the heavy Cuban electorate in Miami-Dade County, Putney asked Rivera to explain recent comments he made about Garcia- comments were interpreted as calling Garcia a surrogate of Fidel Castro. Rivera stated that many of Garcia’s supporters and donors within the Cuba Tourism industry in South Florida are Castro sympathizers and are in favor of lifting sanctions on travel to Cuba. I wrote about this issue a few weeks ago in a post where I detailed these very supporters– some of whom are openly in favor of lifting travel restrictions and who also make no bones regarding their outright support the Fidel Castro regime.Rivera referred to the Castro Regime as a “terroristic dictatorship”, while Garcia was disgusted with Rivera’s innuendo that he supports Castro in any way, and believes that the thought that there are Communists here in Florida that support the Cuban Regime is “incredible”.
Unfortunately, the debate left more questions unanswered than answered. Many questions about both candidates still remain due to the fact that there more numerous instances of talking over each another, and they also strayed off topic on several occasions as they tried to defend themselves from earlier statements that each had made about the another.