Congressional candidates Raj Goyle and Mike Pompeo clashed over health care at a debate Wednesday.
Goyle, a Democratic state representative from Wichita, argued for keeping some parts of the national health care law passed earlier this year that he says help families and seniors. But he supported repealing a tax provision he sees as onerous for businesses.
Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman and oilfield services executive, said he wants to repeal the entire law and start over.
The two squared off at a luncheon sponsored by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce at the Hilton Wichita Airport.
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The debate was substantially less raucous than last week's matchup at Wichita State University. The chamber crowd, mostly local business people, honored the moderator's request to hold any applause until the end of the debate.
Goyle said the process leading to the health bill "exemplifies the worst of Washington right now."
He said majority Democrats took an approach that was "my way or the highway," with too many "backroom deals" and not enough transparency.
Republicans, he said, practiced "rank obstructionism" to score political points rather than dealing with a crisis affecting everyone.
"My view looking forward is simple, repeal the parts of the bill that do not work for Kansans... but keep the parts that do work for Kansans, that provide good, increased access and lower costs for Kansas patients and providers," he said.
Pompeo laid the bill squarely at the feet of congressional Democrats and President Obama, and said Goyle was off base in criticizing Republicans for the process leading to passage.
"The Democrats had plenty of votes to pass that legislation," he said, adding that "it was put forth by a president who he (Goyle) stumped all over the country to get elected."
Goyle said he wants to preserve provisions that:
* Prohibit insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
* Close the "doughnut hole" in Medicare prescription benefits.
* Allow children to stay on their parents' insurance to age 26.
He said he wants to repeal the so-called "1099 provision" in the law, which requires small businesses to report when they pay more than $600 to purchase goods or services from a vendor.
That provision was placed in the law in an effort to ensure businesses pay the full amount of taxes they owe, which is expected to generate about $19 billion over 10 years to help pay for health care.
Pompeo advocated for complete repeal of the national health care law.
"I think the health care law that was passed back in March was a disaster for America, 2,000 pages of disaster," Pompeo said. "Certainly for folks who are thinking about, 'Where am I going to hire my next employee?' we went the wrong direction. We moved our country closer to the direction of nationalizing our health care system."
He projected that one in four Kansans will eventually be covered by Medicaid and "break the bank."
In the debate, Pompeo did not address the provisions Goyle supports or propose any specific replacement for the health care bill.
Afterward, he said he supports starting over with a focus on cost-cutting.
The two also clashed on tax issues when asked whether they would support the Fair Tax plan.
The proposal, popular in conservative policy circles and the tea party movement, would establish a flat-rate nationwide sales tax to replace federal income taxes, which charge higher rates to higher-income earners.
"I would certainly support the Fair Tax if we could get it passed and we could get a constitutional amendment so that big government didn't also have an income tax," Pompeo said.
But he said there is a more pressing tax issue right now — the competing proposals to extend tax cuts that were passed in the Bush administration and are due to expire at the end of this year.
Democratic congressional leaders and President Obama want to continue the tax breaks for taxpayers making less than $250,000 a year. Republican leaders want to extend the cuts for all taxpayers.
"What you see inside the caucus of the party of my opponent is they want to do class warfare, they want to talk about hardworking people who are out there making a living, they want to raise the taxes on some subset of those," Pompeo said. "We're in the deepest recession in my adult life and this party is working hard to make sure that every one of us pays more taxes come this January."
Goyle dismissed Pompeo's statement on the Bush tax cuts as partisan bickering.
"The fact of the matter is, he knows we agree on the extension of the full range of the Bush tax cuts," Goyle said. "What you didn't hear were the real ramifications of the so-called Fair Tax."
Goyle said among those would be elimination of the home mortgage interest deduction, increased taxes on farm supplies and double taxation of senior citizens.
"Kansas seniors who paid the income tax when they put their money into retirement accounts would be faced with the tax again under the so-called Fair Tax," he said.