Bass, Kuster Clash on Health Care and Income Tax
The 2nd Congressional District candidates took part in a debate at the WBIN studio in Derry.
Shots back and forth came early and often between U.S. Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH) and his Democratic opponent Ann McClane Kuster during an Oct. 10 WBIN debate, with the two most contentious issues being health care and an income tax in the state.
Kuster came out firing, saying that Bass has voted 31 times to repeal health care for "millions of Americans."
"To say nothing of his vote to dismantle Medicare that's going to cost seniors $6,400 out of pocket," she said.
Bass countered that figures like $6,400 are numbers that come from the Democratic Campaign Committee "facts machine."
He also said that Kuster not only supported the public option for Medicare, but didn't think the Obama health care law went far enough.
Kuster said that she never supported the public option, it was always the "public insurance option."
Bass hammered Kuster on what he called her lack of commitment to an income tax position, despite her statement that she does not support a broad-based income tax in the state.
"She just made a comment the other day that former (NH) Gov. Mel Thomson, who is the father of anti-broad based tax in this state, was quote 'a worm,'" Bass said.
He said that Kuster's income tax position will last for 27 days until the election is over.
Kuster went after Bass over and over for his votes on GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget.
"The Ryan budget is absolutely not serious about cutting deficits and getting to a balanced budget," she said, adding that the Republican budget will not balance until at least 2040. She also criticized Bass for voting for both wars that "drove up" the nation's debt.
Bass argued that the budgets are plans.
"Budgets don't cut or raise spending," he said. "They are plans that are presented to Congress."
He said the Democrats wanted so much for the Republicans to have a budget so that they could "come up with any kind of kabuki accounting to charge the Republicans with anything that they wanted to."
Kuster retorted that the budget is someone's "statement of principle (and) of their values."
The two also traded barbs on campaign contributions, with Kuster saying that Bass' campaign has been "almost entirely funded" on corporate contributions.
"I won't be dependent on anyone other than the individuals," she said.
Bass said that while he represented people, Kuster, an attorney, represented clients.
"I haven't received close to $100,000 from the JStreetPac in Washington," he said. "I'm not part of these big national liberal organizations that characterize Annie as being a 'bold, liberal progressive.'"
Both also refuted claims of impropriety. Kuster said that, if elected, she will no longer be associated with her law firm or her small business that she started for non-profits.
She went after Bass for his association with a Jaffrey-based company that manufactured wood pellets for heat.
"What makes me sad about this debate – first the claims are totally unfounded," he said. "It (also) really affects the vitality of this company which is an employer, an alternative energy company."
He added that he produced a stock certificate showing that he doesn't own any share in the company until he leaves Congress.
While they clashed on issues of the economy, the two candidates were more civil during a discussion on the Benghazi attack as it relates to foreign policy.
Bass responded to reports saying that the Libya attacks were "not spontaneous."
"I certainly hope that the State Department will take this issue seriously which they have," he said.
"There have been many different explanations that come out of the State Department on this issue," Bass added. "One that seems to have the most veracity is one that indicates that they simply weren't prepared for this."
Kuster said that the shame is the loss of the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"Obviously it is a very unstable region and we have to provide the security for Americans abroad," she said.
On veteran affairs, Kuster accused Bass of not supporting the troops when they come home after voting to send them to war.
Bass countered immediately, saying that he has a full-time employee who does nothing but handle veterans' affairs, and he also attends ceremonies that occur when veterans return home.
"I support withdrawal from Afghanistan, I support the President's plan," Bass said. "I support speeding up the plan as long as the safety is not hampered in any way."
The two remained partisan on voter ID, with Bass saying that he does not support a federal identification card while Kuster said that it is a "solution looking for a problem" and an "interference with our democracy."
Both reacted similarly to a question from a New Hampshire resident on student debt, referencing their college-aged children.
Kuster did bring up the Ryan budget once more, saying that it will eliminate 10 million students on their Pell grants and "interfere with their ability to have higher education."
Bass said that while Kuster characterized the Republican budget as "pitiful," that it will be the framework going forward.
On the negative advertising this election cycle, Bass called the ads "terrible, misleading and untruthful," while Kuster said she is also offended by the advertising.