(Host) Incumbent independent Congressman Bernie Sanders and his Republican challenger Greg Parke clashed over a number of national and international issues Thursday night in a special debate on Vermont Public Radio.
Parke criticized Sanders for not supporting military spending, for opposing additional money for intelligence programs and for fighting efforts to allow younger workers to privatize part of their Social Security taxes.
Sanders said he’s voted for some military programs when he feels they’ve been cost effective and he challenged Parke to support efforts to re-import drugs from Canada.
The two candidates also disagreed on plans to permanently repeal the federal estate tax. Sanders says he opposes the plan because it will primarily benefit only wealthy people and will increase the federal debt by more than $600 billion over a ten year period. Parke is for it because he says it will help stimulate the economy:
(Sanders) “That means that there’s going to be a greater national debt that our kids and our grandchildren are going to have to be paying. That means less money for education, for health care, for the environment, for our veterans. What we are essentially doing, if you want to repeal the estate tax, is giving a huge gift to millionaires and billionaires at the expense of our kids and the middle class of this country and I think that’s wrong.”
(Parke) “You know, it’s amazing. People think our government can spend our money more efficiently than the private sector. Just imagine what these companies could do with $600 billion. They’re not going to go out and buy another bottle Dom Perignon, they’re going to invest in creating companies and creating jobs and then in turn that money will then create more taxes and you’ll end up with actually a tax revenue increase!”
(Host) Parke charged that Sanders has been an ineffective Congressman for the past 14 years because Sanders has been the lead sponsor of only one bill that has become law. Sanders says most of his important work has been done with other members of Congress and in drafting key amendments to bills.