Published On: Sat, Oct 9th, 2010

Election 2010: Senate debate between Russ Feingold vs Ron Johnson

Republican challenger Ron Johnson and U.S. Sen Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) stuck to their respective philosophies of government on Friday night in their first debate, but a few surprises emerged on issues.

Both candidates differed, as they have all campaign season, on the best way to solve the nation’s spending and debt problems, the health care law, climate change, Social Security, and foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iran.

Johnson, who has been leading in the polls, said the country didn’t have a tax problem.

“We have a spending problem,” he said.

And to attack a $1.3 trillion-dollar deficit, Johnson said Congress needed to enact a hard spending cap, or perhaps consider a constitutional amendment that would balance the budget. “I’m open to any of those things to establish a hard spending cap,” he said.

He added that he would apply sound business principles to the federal budget, including zero-based budgeting.

Feingold said he would try to stop the deficit by ending earmarks and push for giving the president line-item veto power. Feingold also suggested that his plan to cut items out of the budget would save half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years.

On health care, Feingold defended his vote for the law and challenged Johnson on his statement that the law was the greatest single assault on freedom in his lifetime.

“Does it really invade his freedom to make sure that over a million Wisconsinites don’t get denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition?” Feingold asked.

But Johnson said the law was an incredibly expensive overreach that would threaten what he called the finest health care system in the world.

After the debate, Johnson told reporters that he would prefer the bill be replaced in small increments rather than a full repeal, as he once advocated, largely because a Democratic president would likely veto such legislation.

“I would suggest we would replace, then repeal,” he said.

He said that if the Republican Party takes over Congress, bill writers “should start writing replacement bills from day one.”

“The difference I think is that Republicans would write the bills,” he said.

Read article here: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/104616734.html (raw video there as well)

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