(Host) The three major party candidates for Vermont’s sole seat in the U.S. House debated a wide variety of issues Friday.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) The event, which took place at Woodbury College in Montpelier, marked one of the few times that the candidates have debated during this campaign. Roughly 100 students and members of the community attended the debate.
Incumbent independent Congressman Bernie Sanders pledged to work for substantial increases in the federal minimum wage if he’s elected to a seventh term in office. Sanders says the current federal wage level of $5.25 an hour is much too low and forces some people to live in poverty:
(Sanders) “It is an outrage, a moral outrage that the Republican leadership did provide $477 billion in tax breaks for the wealthiest 1% people with a minimum income of $375,000 a year. There has not been one word of discussion from the Republicans about raising the minimum wage. So what we have to do is raise the minimum wage until it becomes a living wage, so that when people work 40 hours a week they can live in dignity.”
(Kinzel) Republican candidate Bill Meub told the audience that improving education programs, not raising the minimum wage, was the best way to help people escape from poverty. And Meub said Sanders’ anti-business rhetoric is hurting efforts to create new jobs in Vermont:
(Meub) “Simply raising his voice like he does doesn’t make it true. When we talked about raising the minimum wage up to a livable wage and that it simply can happen, it then makes our businesses uncompetitive, makes the price for the same people he wants to protect – the ordinary average citizen – the prices for those products go up so much that they can’t afford them. He prices them out, he doesn’t understand that it all goes together.”
(Kinzel) Progressive candidate Jane Newton said her major priority as a candidate is to promote peaceful solutions to the international problems facing this country.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.