After the exceptional success and interest in our first debate, Michele Catalano and Neal Pollack, and second, Natalie Davis and Mike Kole, we are very excited to announce debate three, tonight, with Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from the Canton, Ohio area, Jeff Seemann, and blogger John Hawkins of Right Wing News.
Jeff Seemann is the Democratic candidate running for the Congressional seat in the 16th district of Ohio. Running in the 16th district of Ohio, Jeff is a Democrat whose progressive agenda if elected will include addressing health care issues, the environment, global terror, women’s rights and economic issues affecting those in his district. Jeff’s campaign has received a high level of publicity due in part to the support of blogs like Daily Kos, Pandagon.net, and MyDD.com. Jeff lives in Canton with his wife Susan and their 5 year-old daughter. More on Jeff here.
John Hawkins is a popular and thoughtful conservative blogger who runs RightWingNews.com. From his FAQ:
- Why Did You Start Right Wing News?: I got really angry during the 2000 election at the horrible, biased job the media did in covering Florida. The breaking point for me was when I was watching a show on CNN and an emailed comment from a listener came in suggesting that “Bush should concede.” That was the moment I decided to put together a conservative web page although I didn’t actually get RWN off the ground until several months later.
What Do You Mean By ‘Right Wing’?: In the US, the terms right wing and conservative are largely synonymous. Conservatives in the US support small government, capitalism, a fairly strict reading of the Constitution, and traditional American values.
To parallel the final presidential debate being held tonight, this debate will focus mainly on domestic issues.
We thank both participants for their time, effort and expertise, and look forward to a spirited debate, the results of which will be posted here this evening. Jeff Seemann will also be profiled in this week’s Cleveland Scene – edition out tomorrow.
Moderator: Okay, are we here gentlemen?
John Hawkins: Yes.
Jeff Seemann: Me too.
Moderator: Both candidates have stated emphatically that they will not attempt to reinstate the draft, but with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan taking its toll on our troops, how can we expect to engage in what President Bush has called a “long” war, without some form of mandatory military service?
John Hawkins: There isn’t going to be a draft and anyone who tells you otherwise is either ignorant or dishonest. I don’t know of any group that wants a draft except some anti-war Democrats who want to use it to turn people against the military and the war.
The American people are overwhelmingly against a draft. Politicians are going be opposed to a draft because it’s political poison. People who support the war on terrorism are going to be opposed to it because it would dramatically undercut support for the war. Generals don’t want to spend the money to train a bunch of people who didn’t want to enlist in the first place and who intend to leave as soon as possible. The soldiers in the field don’t want to fight beside of draftees who don’t want to be there. The House voted on a Democrat sponsored draft bill earlier this month just to quash this whole rumor. The final number was 402-2 against. So, in conclusion, anyone who tells you there’s going to be a draft is either ignorant or trying to deceive you.
Jeff Seemann: I think you can expect there to be some form of mandatory military service if President Bush is re-elected. Four years ago he ran saying that he would not “nation build.” Now the cost of invading Iraq in terms of blood and treasure will necessitate a mandatory draft where our sons and daughters will be forced to risk their lives if the President is re-elected.
If we elected John Kerry there will be no need for a draft. He has a plan to remove our troops from Iraq. An actual plan. Earlier today, Germany said that if the situation would change in Iraq they would consider helping.
A lot of people like to say, “Who is Germany or France to tell us the right course of action in Iraq or our election?” In this case, they are a country willing to help relieve us of the personal and financial burdens we took on by invading Iraq. They may not be Micronesia or Eritrea, but their financial and human resources will ensure we don’t have to have a draft and begin to share the financial responsibilities our invasion has cost us.
You see, President Bush also likes to criticize Senator Kerry by saying, “How do you expect countries to join the wrong war at the wrong time in the wrong place? That isn’t leadership that builds or maintains a successful coalition.”
It looks like our allies across the globe appear willing to follow our lead, but it looks like they won’t follow President Bush’s. You want to avoid a draft, elect Senator John Kerry. The simple fact is this…..our military is already overstretched. This leaves two choices – less war, or a military draft. Which do you think George Bush will choose?
John Hawkins: Really? So the House which voted 402-2 is suddenly going to reverse itself completely if Bush is elected again? You knew that wasn’t true the moment you wrote it down.
Jeff Seemann: I do not have a crystal ball, but I can certainly tell you that a 402-2 vote is MUCH more likely before an election. Let’s see what Republicans vote on when they’re not in fear of losing their jobs in a month.
John Hawkins: You don’t need a crystal ball to know there isn’t going to be a draft. Almost the only people even advocating a draft are anti-war Democrats like Chuck Schumer. To even sit there and tell people there might be a draft when you know, 100% for a fact that it isn’t going to happen proves you’re too dishonest to represent a district in Congress.
Jeff Seemann: Less war, or a military draft. I choose less war.
Moderator: Any further thoughts?
Jeff Seemann: I’m fine with my comments as they stand.
John Hawkins: You chose to make things up to try to scare a bunch of college kids who don’t know any better. Nobody supports a draft except a bunch of anti-war Democrats and I find it to be totally irresponsible for someone who is running for Congress to claim that there’s going to be a draft when he knows the Bush administration and the military is adamantly opposed to it and there is almost no Republican support for it. That’s the sort of thing I expect to hear on crackpot conspiracy websites, not coming from someone who wants to represent the American people in Congress.
Moderator: A noted conservative pundit, Robert Novak, recently wrote that secret plans were under way for the Bush administration to quickly pull out of Iraq after the scheduled January elections. This would have deleterious consequences on the planned “democratizing of the Middle East” the Bush administration has used as a reason for going to war in Iraq. Novak also goes on to say that Kerry’s advisors would plan the same exit strategy as his plan to enlist European allies, which may not work. With these options at hand on either side, what exactly is the best solution for handling the Iraq situation and what do you see as the final result in Iraq?
Jeff Seemann: I think we saw today that new countries are willing to stand behind the United States if the situation in Iraq changes. It’s not that our historical allies won’t follow OUR lead, its that they won’t follow President Bush’s lead. The best solution since the President dragged us into this mess is, and always has been the same, include our allies and build a real coalition outside of the United States and Great Britain. With John Kerry as President, we have that opportunity. With George Bush and more of the same, it should be obvious by now that opportunity does not exist and we will probably have turn and run as Bob Novak asserts the President will do.
John Hawkins: Dawn, I will tell you exactly what I wrote about that column on my website, “This is just complete bullocks. There is absolutely no way that the Bush administration, after going through everything we’ve gone through in Iraq, is going to shrug their shoulders, walk away, and let the country descend into civil war, especially given that the Iraqis will be able to handle their own security next year. Not only would conservatives turn on the Bush administration if they did something like that, it would undercut the entire purpose of staying in Iraq after the war to begin with. It’s just not going to happen.”
Let me tell you what we need to do in Iraq, we need to do exactly what we’re doing. We’re cleaning out the militants and terrorists a city at a time right now and replacing them with Iraqi troops. As Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi said in a speech to a Joint Session of Congress, “The Iraqi government now commands almost 50,000 armed and combat- ready Iraqis. By January it will be some 145,000. And by the end of next year, some 250,000 Iraqis.”
We will have elections in 2005 and as the year goes on, we will Iraqis taking over their own security. By the end of the year, it’ll be just like Afghanistan. The Iraqis will do almost all the security work and we may use a few special forces. There’s no reason to cut and run — for Bush. Kerry will feel the pressure from his base so it’ll be a different story for him.
Jeff Seemann: You mean the speech that the White House wrote for Allawi for maximum political effect? I think we know that more of the same in Iraq is not going to get us anywhere but perpetuate the mess we are already in. The training the Iraqis have received is lackluster, at best. The protection on the ground by anyone other than American and British forces is really the only thing holding this country together by a thread. And elections in 2005? Like Afghanistan?
You mean the one where 15 candidates pulled out in protest of fraud on the day of the election. In Iraq, you have Administration officials telling us we can hold safe elections only in portions of the country. That certain segments of the population might be disenfranchised because people will actually be shooting at those who choose to vote, or in some places, violence will just be too widespread to even cast ballots. Are you serious? That is a meaningful national election? I am of the opinion it is not and I think any self-respecting American looking to “promote liberty and democracy,” would not hold ourselves to that low of a standard.
Sure you can hold elections, but that doesn’t ensure they will be fair and representative of the people in Iraq. We did it in the United States, specifically Florida in 2000. And if you thought that Florida 2000 was a mess, just wait until Iraq 2005.
John Hawkins: Yeah, like Afghanistan. A country that just had free elections. Sorry, their elections weren’t as pretty and organized as Belgium but you know, I bet the first elections we had in America after the Revolutionary War wouldn’t have measured up to those standards either.
Jeff Seemann: Free elections? 15 candidates dropped out because of fraud. How about some minimum expectations? And just today, Germany said they would consider getting involved in Iraq if the situation changed. They will follow the U.S. leadership – they just wont follow the Presidents. And I suspect Germany is not alone.
John Hawkins: And the same 15 candidates dropped their objections as well. The idea that we’re going to bring “allies” in to do all the dirty work under a John Kerry presidency is ludicrous. John Kerry said the war was a mistake, it was the “wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time”. Why in the world would anybody show up for that? Furthermore, as far as allies go, Germany isn’t promising anything except maybe at some point, at some time, if they’re in a good mood, and John Kerry grovels enough, maybe, just maybe they’ll do something. France and Spain say outright that they’re not helping. So who are these allies who are going to do all the hard work while we send our soldiers home? Face the facts, if we can’t do it, nobody can or will.
Israel held elections during the Intifada. India held elections while there were plenty of terrorist attacks going on. El Salvador had elections even with violent thugs trying to wreck them. Why not Iraq? Because Democrats don’t want to admit a Republican President helped them because free over the objections of people like Jeff who would have rather left Saddam in charge?
Jeff Seemann: Israel and El Salvador? I am ready for the next question.
Moderator: There is much speculation about Supreme Court Justice appointments being a real possibility for the next presidential term. How do you think each candidate’s choices in judges would affect the country?
Jeff Seemann: Huge impact. President Bush has said his two favorite justices are Scalia and Thomas. If that is the kind of judiciary you want, then you are in business. If you want judges who will uphold a woman’s right to choose, protected civil liberties, and justices who will actually uphold the constitution then elect John Kerry in November.
John Hawkins: The answer to this question totally depends on ideology. If you want conservative judges who believe their job is to strictly interpret the Constitution, you want Bush making the appointments. On the other hand, if you want activist judges who’re going to try to legislate from the bench and push liberal policies that Democrats can’t get voters to support, you want Kerry picking judges. That’s what it comes down too.
Jeff Seemann: I think we can both agree that this is a huge issue and the country knows what they should expect with each candidate.
Moderator: Fair enough.
John Hawkins: Agreed.
Moderator: Okay, next question.
Moderator: Senator Kerry said in the last debate that he would not raise taxes for those making less than $200,000 a year, but the President Bush has said his proposed policies will force him to do so. Why should Americans believe either candidates claim?
Jeff Seemann: Same people that told us the tax cuts was going to create millions of jobs. Same people that told us the Medicare program only cost 400 billion dollars when it really cost 540 billion dollars. So please forgive us for not believing what you’re saying.”
You can’t believe a word this President says.
You can believe Senator Kerry because the money is there, IF you have the right priorities. Real Homeland Security vs. Increasing our threat by invading Iraq. It costs as much to sustain 4 days worth of war in Iraq as it does to protect our exposed ports.
Tax cuts for the rich vs. Health care for our children.
Giving corporate loopholes to take their corporations overseas and avoid paying taxes vs. Fully funding education programs at home.
Opening Firehouses in Baghdad vs. opening them in the United States.
John Hawkins: Actually, I think he said, “And of course he’s going to raise your taxes. You see, he’s proposed $2.2 trillion in new spending. … Now, either he’s going to break all these wonderful promises he’s told you about or he’s going to raise taxes. And I suspect, given his record, he’s going to raise taxes.”
to the contrary. Nothing short of some sort of Balanced Budget Amendment can control spending long-term in my opinion.
Of course, the third option is adding that amount to the debt, but I doubt if he’d be able to get away with that given how high it is now.
You could see a situation like we had during the Clinton administration, where Republicans in Congress lockdown on spending and tax revenue soars as the economy grows, but I doubt it since triangulation has become the order of the day.
In either case, I expect the deficit to grow substantially with either candidate despite their protestations
Jeff Seemann: You can believe President Kerry because he has the right priorities. You can believe Senator Kerry because he knows how to veto expenditures if necessary. That is why we have record deficits and debt right now.
There is NO reason to believe President Bush. And if you like that, and want more of the same, vote for him. If you want a President who recognizes priorities in a budget and is willing to make tough choices to keep down debt, then the right choice is Senator Kerry.
John Hawkins: Show me a candidate who supports a Balanced Budget Amendment and I’ll show a candidate serious about controlling spending. Neither candidate does. If you want low taxes and an expanding deficit, vote for Bush. If you want higher taxes, more government spending, and an expanding deficit, vote for Kerry.
Jeff Seemann: I have nothing to add except it is obvious that President Bush cannot manage a budget. He just can’t say no. He is addicted to spending. He hasn’t vetoed a single spending bill. If you want more of the same, vote for W. If you want an administration with priorities and a real shot at taking care of the important things in the U.S. – Vote for Senator Kerry.
Moderator: Who has the best strategy for re-energizing the economy and replenishing the jobs lost during the current administration’s term, Kerry or Bush and why?
Jeff Seemann: The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. We were told the first tax cut would create jobs and stimulate the economy…no dice. The second, the third, the fourth… How many times do we have to cut taxes for the wealthiest among us before we recognize the President’s tax cuts are not the answer for the average American.
If you are millionaire, fine. He stimulated your personal economy, but did nothing for the middle class.
Senator Kerry has the best plan, and here is why. If you give a person making $30,000 a year an extra $3,000 – They will go out and spend that money on consumer goods, food, supplies – the things they need to sustain themselves and their families. If you give a man or woman making $4,000,000 a year $60,000, what are they going to do with it? They are going to put it in the bank and it makes no difference to them. Even if it is invested in the stock market, the only people that see the benefits are the wealthiest among us, corporate owners. And we see the good that has done in creating jobs. They take the profits and move them offshore, with our quality jobs to follow shortly after.
Give the average American a meaningful refund and they will invest it in supplies, increase demand in those goods, and create more jobs in those sectors. Do everything you can to keep jobs in America and close corporate tax loopholes for companies that send jobs overseas or open up a P.O. Box in Bermuda. It’s that simple, and that is how you create jobs.
John Hawkins: When Bush came into office, he had to deal with a recession that started almost as he got there, the bursting of the tech bubble, which started before he got there, those huge corporate accounting scandals, which started before he got there, and 9/11. So it really didn’t matter who the President was, the economy was doomed to a big hit. But Bush did the right thing, he cut taxes to stimulate the economy and it paid off big time because the economy is strong today.
Over the last 4 quarters, the average GDP growth has been a sizzling 4.85% as compared to an average rate of 3.1% in the 90s and 2.9% in the 80s. During that same time period, we’ve created 1.7 million jobs. In other words, the economy has been booming for a year and as long as we keep doing what we’re doing now, the economy has been booming for a year and as long as we keep doing what we’re doing now, the economy should keep growing strong.
Jeff Seemann: Well, we are missing out on that “booming economy” in Ohio, I can assure you of that. A booming economy would create the minimum 150,000 jobs we need a month to break even. A booming economy would create jobs that pay more than the ones that are lost – not $9,000 less annually on average. There is no boom with George Bush’s policies – just bust.
But, as Dick Cheney likes to say, my figures don’t include the countless Americans hocking family valuables on Ebay as a form of employment
John Hawkins: Really? Only millionaires have kids and get married? So they’re the only ones who get the child tax credits and who benefit from getting rid of the marriage penalty? And since when have big government Democrats like John Kerry ever been big tax cutting advocates? It would be like voting for George Bush because you think you’re going to get government funded abortion on demand. It makes no sense.
Democrats always talk about how many job we have to create to “break even” when a Republican is President. “Oh a 150,000 jobs? That’s nothing. That doesn’t even “break even”. Then a Democrat gets into office and it’s “Hooray for our guy, he created 150,000 jobs. The economy is booming!” Pure hypocrisy.
Jeff Seemann: So, George Bush is doing even worse than I represented in my earlier statement? Thank you for clarifying.
Are you really arguing that the tax cuts were not disproportionately in favor of the wealthy? Look, I believe that giving back to the middle class will really create spending in our communities, which will lead to job creation. I guess that is the difference.
John Hawkins: Income tax cuts have to be disproportionately in favor of the wealthy because they pay such a huge percentage of taxes. And I’m not surprised to see you sneering at the Ebay comment. I bought my car from a guy on Ebay. He makes 120,000 a year selling pallets of goods on there. Oh, but that doesn’t count. It’s just Ebay.
Moderator: What kind of changes can we expect in the deteriorating status of affordable healthcare in this country if President Bush is re-elected, or Senator Kerry?
Jeff Seemann: You can expect no change if President Bush is re-elected, just a continued deteriorating quality of health care, as you pointed out. Just more of the same. He won’t allow the buying power of millions of Americans to safely purchase affordable medicine from our allies – yet he is a champion of the free market. He won’t look into alternatives like stem-cell research despite the assertions by doctor after doctor that we could cure Parkinsons, Alzheimer’s Disease, and degenerative spinal injuries. It would be one thing if more of the same provided the right answers, but in President Bush’s situation – the answers have been wrong.
He has failed on Health Care and failed miserably. I hesitate to say this is the biggest failure of his administration because there have been so many glaring problems, but this is certainly up there.
If you elect John Kerry, you can expect for Medicare & Medicaid to be solvent. You can expect the government to use the buying power of millions of Americans to drive down the cost of prescription drugs. You can expect we will allow the safe purchase of affordable medicine from allies like Canada and Australia. And you can expect our country to pursue, and lead the world in the cure of diseases that plague millions of Americans today. The choice on health care is clear.
John Hawkins: Probably not many for either. John Kerry is promoting a big government takeover, HillaryCare repackaged which the Republicans will fight to tooth and nail to prevent. On the other hand, Bush is pushing things like tort reform which Democrats will never support because they get so much money from trial lawyers and Health Savings Accounts which the Democrats will fight because they loathe anything that weakens government and promotes the free market. Drugs will probably get cheaper for the average American in either case because they’ll be covered under Medicare (although that’ll bloat the budget) and because we’ve be putting left-handed price controls on drugs by re-importing them from Canada.
Personally, I think tort reform, health care savings accounts, fighting price controls on American drugs in OTHER countries and easing the odious rules and regs we have for bringing drugs to market here in the US would help a lot. Making that happen when it’s a hot button issue and Democrats oppose all those things? That’s another matter.
Moderator: Any rebuttals?
Jeff Seemann: Ahhh tort reform. Republicans would have you believe lawyers like Mel Martinez (Republican candidate for Senate in Florida) are responsible for all of the nation’s problems. Health care, job loss, slumping economy, overtime regulations – soon they will be blamed for failure in Iraq. But until we get there, let’s talk about there impact on health care – where punitive claims result in less than 3% of all health care costs. I place a premium on protecting the rights of Americans in court. The fact remains that in most states there is a tremendous burden on the defendants.
Jeff Seemann: You can get buried under by corporate money in court and in most states, you need a unanimous verdict to win
John Hawkins: It isn’t just the punitive claims or the exorbitant insurance rates doctors have to pay, it’s doctors practicing “defensive medicine” to keep from getting sued. Here’s an example…
Jeff Seemann: (we can move on after the example – I think the country has grown weary of the lawyers to blame for everything claims.)
John Hawkins: At one point, I got blood clots in my leg. I have a protein C&S deficiency and I worked at a job where I was stationary all the time, I didn’t exercise, etc. So.
The doctor puts me on Coumadin so that my blood thins out which keeps me from getting more clots. Problem: for whatever reason, we could never figure out why, the thickness/thinness of my blood (the medical term slips my mind) varied radically. So one week it would be too low, the next week it would be so high it could be dangerous. So what it came down to was this: do I get off the Coumadin and risk getting another blood clot in the future or do I take the Coumadin and risk dying if I get head split open someday? The poor doctor could never decide. I spent months waiting while he did pointless tests, tried to get second opinion, etc.
Moderator: That sucks.
John Hawkins: I felt for the guy because whichever way he went, he’s vulnerable. I bleed to death someday after a car wreck, he gets sued. He takes me off of Coumadin and I get a clot and keel over, he gets sued. So we spend thousands and thousands of dollars on tests that were pointless. Eventually, I just made the call and got off of Coumadin. But how much money and time was wasted? That’s an every day sort of thing now.
Moderator: Okay, gentlemen, great job and thank you very much, please give us your closing statement on why your candidate should be the next president of the United States.
Jeff Seemann: Thank you John, for an entertaining debate. Thank you Dawn and Eric for hosting this event. Getting our ideas in the marketplace of ideas and having the public decide is what democracy should be about. As my campaign is a testament to, the internet provides a great medium for that. You guys are on to something powerful here, keep it up.
This country is on the wrong track. In the business world, when a corporation is headed in the wrong direction, you don’t fire the shareholders, you replace the leadership. It is time to replace our country’s leadership. The choice is clear, war in Iraq with no victory in sight, the potential for a military draft – rising health care costs while the number of those covered is reduced – job loss and corporate greed – attempts to hack up the constitution for temporary political gain – infringements of our basic civil rights under the Constitution – and really just more of the same. That is what you will get from George Bush.
Under Senator Kerry, we have a real chance to involve our long time allies in Iraq. A chance at really exporting the freedom and democracy in the Middle East – We have a chance to put money back in the pockets of those who deserve it most and will use it, the middle class. We have a real chance to get every American covered with quality health care. We will allow the safe importation of affordable medicine from our allies like Canada and Australia. We will allow stem cell research and provide hope to the millions of Americans who live their lives in despair daily. We will put a serious dent in corporate greed. There will be accountability on Wall Street. We will return jobs to the United States, where they belong.
There will be hope for the environment, which George Bush has blatantly disregarded.
Finally, there will be hope that the next generation of Americans will inherit a country better off than the one we are leaving behind today. A country that is safe from terrorist attacks and the hatred of the United States that is a very REAL threat. Elect George Bush, more of the same failed policies. Elect John Kerry (and Jeff Seemann) and we have hope to turn this thing around.
John Hawkins: If you want a dovish, Massachusetts liberal, who wants to make us more vulnerable to terrorism by neutering the Patriot act, who’s more concerned about making Europe mad than defending us from terrorism, who is likely to raise your taxes, who wants to massively expand the size and power of government, who smeared our troops who were fighting and dying in Vietnam when he came home from the war, who wants to allow American troops to be prosecuted by the UN, then John Kerry is your man.
But, if you’re serious about preventing another 9/11 on American soil, maybe even a nuclear 9/11, you want George Bush to be your President. If you want to help the Iraqi people towards freedom and make sure the sacrifice of our soldiers who fought in that country isn’t wasted, you want George Bush as your President. If you want to stop Iran from getting nukes, if you want to see North Korea disarmed, if you want to pay Al-Qaeda back for 9/11, and if you want to win the war on terrorism, you want George Bush to be your President. Want lower taxes? Vote George Bush. Do you the economy to keep rolling on at the same sizzling pace it has been at over the last year? Then you should vote for George Bush.
In his first term, George Bush smashed the Taliban, rounded up 3/4ths of Al-Qaeda’s leadership, put Saddam in prison, freed 50 million Iraqis and Afghans, broke the Pakistani nuclear ring, got Qaddafi out of the WMD business, slashed taxes for everybody, not just the rich, brought our economy back from recession, improved our schools with “No Child Left Behind”, will have brought a rudimentary nuclear missile defense shield online, and stopped partial birth abortion..among other things. And if you give him another term, George Bush can accomplish even more. George Bush is the right man, in the right place, at the right time to protect our country and keep us moving in the right direction.
Moderator: I know you have to go, so I will bid you farewell
Jeff Seemann: I do have to take off, but let me thank you again Dawn, and John. I will keep the window open so I can read John’s closing when I return. Take care, and thank you again.
John Hawkins: Jeff, nice debating you. Dawn, it’s always a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Moderator: Good luck in your campaign.
John Hawkins: Goodbye.
Jeff Seemann: Goodbye.
Thanks Jeff and John, what a great debate and let’s hope the Presidential debate tonight is as informative and courteous!!