Tester, Rehberg trade blows over health care reform in final debate

2012-10-21T06:30:00Z 2012-10-21T06:44:37Z Tester, Rehberg trade blows over health care reform in final debateBy MIKE DENNISON Missoulian State Bureau missoulian.com

BOZEMAN – In their final and feistiest debate, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and his Republican challenger, Rep. Denny Rehberg, traded numerous barbs Saturday night over the federal health care overhaul – and just about everything else.

The sparks flew early and often as the two men debated the Affordable Care Act, with Rehberg saying the first legislation he would carry if elected to the Senate would be to “repeal Obamacare.”

“We need to put back the $716 billion into Medicare that was stolen (from the program),” he said.

Rehberg called the bill a government takeover of health care that is costing businesses money and will get between citizens and their physicians.

“You’re just replacing a big, uncaring insurance company with a big, uncaring government,” he said. “Don’t destroy Medicare just to set up an entirely new entitlement for Obamacare.”

Tester, who voted for the 2010 health-care law, said Rehberg apparently hasn’t read the bill, because it relies largely on private health insurance to expand coverage.

“This is not government health care,” Tester said. “I know that’s a great talking point. But this is not government health care. This is about getting more competition in the marketplace, and holding insurance companies accountable.”

Tester said perhaps one mistake with the law is that it’s taken too long for it to go into effect, so people aren’t yet able to see how it works to expand coverage through affordable insurance.

He also said the claim that the law hurts Medicare is false, and that the money removed from Medicare does not affect benefits, and went mostly to private insurance companies.

Tester and Rehberg debated late Saturday at the Riverside Country Club near Bozeman, before a statewide television audience on CBS-affiliate stations. It was their fourth and final debate of the contest, which is one of the most-watched U.S. Senate races in the nation.

Recent polls have shown the race to be a dead heat, with two weeks until Election Day. Montanans also have been voting absentee for the past two weeks.

The men clashed not only over the health-care law, but also on campaign spending regulations, the role of government in the economy, how best to cut the deficit and how to break the partisan deadlock in Washington, D.C.

When asked how to address the so-called “fiscal cliff” in December, when major federal budget cuts and tax increases are scheduled to kick in unless Congress acts, Rehberg said he would repeal “Obamacare,” and that taxes do not need to be raised at all.

“We have a spending problem in this country,” he said. “It’s control our spending first.”

Rehberg also suggested cutting foreign aid to Pakistan and consolidating the number of job-training programs.

Tester said Democrats and Republicans need to work together to come up with a bipartisan deficit-reduction plan, and predicted Congress will stop the fiscal cliff before the year is out and then work on a longer-range plan early next year.

He said solutions he favors include closing unnecessary overseas military bases and eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy and for companies that send jobs overseas, but that he would not favor cuts to women’s health care programs or Head Start.

The two also clashed over the subject of lobbyists, as Tester said Rehberg depends on lobbyists for his information and didn’t report on his campaign records money received from lobbyists.

Rehberg noted that Tester is the largest recipient of lobbyist campaign money of any Senate candidate, according to a nonpartisan group.

“The difference between me and Senator Tester, who demonized lobbyists to get elected (six years ago), is that I accept their information, he accepts their cash,” he said.

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(7) Comments

  1. MontanaJim72
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    MontanaJim72 - October 21, 2012 6:26 pm
    It's hard to believe that after all this time Rehberg doesn't realize that he is running against Tester, not Obama. It's even worse when you look at Rehberg's voting record when Bush was president and Rehberg supported almost erverything Bush asked for. An example...Rehberg voted to extend unemployment benefits every time under Bush. When Obama took office he immediately voted against it every time. Rehberg needs to be sent back to his ranch..oops, I mean his housing development...and just disappear. Most Montana people can't afford Rehberg and his "save the rich people" beliefs.
  2. onemontana
    Report Abuse
    onemontana - October 21, 2012 10:43 am
    Having been around Tester and his "herd" on a number of occasions he is really just the same as Rehberg, just more sly about it. He votes the way his "sponsors" want him to vote. For the most part he takes on small "issues" Montanans care about only to slight of hand the issues that are really important. He really is a "good ole boy" just like Rehberg. Anybody who thinks differently is blinded by party allegiance. I am certainly not saying who to vote for, but do not think that a vote for Tester makes you better than a vote for Rehberg. You are the same just wearing a different color tie (or scarf).
  3. pophouse
    Report Abuse
    pophouse - October 21, 2012 9:31 am
    I only tuned in for the last 20 minutes or so, but it was really difficult to make out what Rehburg was saying. He spoke quickly, didn't finish his sentences, and would jump from topic to topic. It was almost like watching a stream of consciousness Faulkner debate, but without any big words.
  4. tinlizzie
    Report Abuse
    tinlizzie - October 21, 2012 9:30 am
    Idiotstate - you need to turn off Faux News and hosebag Limbaugh - actually try to read some unbiased articles about these 2 men before you post anything. Tester is an honest person trying to do the right thing, Denny is a lobbyist lapdog.
  5. Chuck Feney
    Report Abuse
    Chuck Feney - October 21, 2012 8:03 am
    Denny had that mean, likkered-up look in his eye last night, like Rhett Butler comin' home to give Scarlet a good spanking!
    After authoring and passing just 3 bills in 12 years - two of them commemorative coins - Denny is just a'rearin' to get back there and repeal ObamaCare!
    Let 'er rip!
    _______________________
    One For The Road For Denny

    Denny liked the Bozeman debate.
    He thought that the venue was great,
    With a full service bar,
    And a designated car,
    He knew he could speak and libate!

    Denny's favored the country club vetting
    Where his cravings weren't too upsetting
    With a small elite crowd
    He could get drunk and loud
    And be assured of forgive and forgetting!

    They didn't let the Libertarian speak
    Lest Denny's tea baggin' seem weak.
    The two party game,
    Controlled by the same
    Group of bankers, didn't need his critique.
    _____
    C.U.F.
  6. idiot state
    Report Abuse
    idiot state - October 21, 2012 8:02 am
    Montana has a choice between an Obama following, big government, high tax advocate or a candidate who'll work to defeat that massive bureaucratic government health program, trim the waste, fraud and abuse out of government's thousands of unneccessary "programs", and who'll refuse to raise taxes on the average guy. If Jon Tester refuses to acknowledge that OBAMACARE will result in governmnent panels who'll implement rules as to who gets paid and who gets treated, then he's out and out dishonest or very very ignorant on the bureaucratic program he supports. ALL MONTANANS will see their premiums increase, their healthcare decisiions taken out of their hands, and their health suffer. That in itself is reason enough to defeat JON TESTER.
  7. montanamuralist
    Report Abuse
    montanamuralist - October 21, 2012 6:34 am
    Rehberg doesn't accept money from lobbyists? What? He does accepting lying weasels like Karl Rove coming in on his behalf though and spending millions to buy this election. At least Tester understands the word compromise. Rehberg votes against veterans bills to "cut spending" and then spends money sending them to fight in a ridiculous war in Iraq that had nothing to do with 9/11. He also supports non disclosure in campaign finances. He supports buying elections in other words. Tester does not. That is all any sensible Montanan ( not right wing name callers and people with no arguments about facts) that is all sensible Montanans need to know...Tester is the only choice here. Rehberg is a waste of time and energy and will feed the very insurance companies he is denouncing in this article..HYPOCRITE!!!!
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