Today, at the Detroit Economic Club, I was honored to see Michigan's very own Senator Debbie Stabenow sock it to Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard in their 2nd debate. A lot of people, mostly Metro-Detroit's power business elite paid a pretty penny to see a prize fight, and Debbie didn't disappoint.
Today's event was held at the Detroit Mariott in the Renaissance Center right on Jefferson Avenue. The event was sold out, and the house was packed. I sat down at a table of 'friendlies' but had my BS meter quickly go off, as I discovered that no other than State Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis sitting directly behind me. If that wasn't enough, apparently Saul brought his All-Star line-up, including Attorney General Mike Cox a.k.a Mickey Wandering Eyes (and Hands). Amway Guy was noticably absent, hmm, perhaps he was off buying new glasses somewhere?
Supporting Debbie were her husband Tom, Anne - her mom, Rep. Sander Levin, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, State Sen. Dennis Olshove, and assorted others. It was a good showing by Michigan Dems.
The debate was moderated by WJR's Lloyd Jackson. Questions were taken from the crowd present there and asked by a panel of journalists.
Mikey Bouchard won the coin-toss and started his off his opening in traditional fashion, Republican gloom, doom and scare tactics...here's some the unofficial transcription from your very own roving correspondent...
Mikey – Thank you for being here – important to talk about the issues. Michigan is the only state that has lost 280,000 jobs since Debbie came into office. Schools here are on a moving van out…we need a change in leadership. Debbie votes against businesses in MI – and as a result, sends them to a different state. We have a dangerous world. People are well intentioned but don't necessairly get results. We have to change courses.
Debbie – Thank you, I'm proud to be endorsed by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. Say, aren't those Tigers are amazing? I know we agree on that. They’ll do anything to win – that’s what I'll do as a senator. Over 1 millions tons of trash I've helped stop. (audience claps) Bouchard supports things that are bad for Michigan – I support results that allow us to keep our middle class, to have a level playing field. I’m fighting for you and our Michigan way of life.
1st Question.What would you underake on the first 100 days in office to bring the Michigan economy back?
Mikey - We’re not getting a lot of results. My first bill (which I have here to day to show you) to protect the automakers from groups suing us into submission. This bill (already drafted) will protect from friviolus junk lawsuits regarding emissions, like they have in CA. Debbie has received money from those very same groups. Will she protect the automakers? ?
Debbie - I work on a daily basis with our automakers all around Michigan. I am laser-focused on having a level playing field. I authored a federal tax relief that allowed tax breaks for companies here if a job is created here. Sen. Lindsay Graham is a co-sponsor. I've also been pleased to work on the pension bill. I work with Trent Lott(R-MS) to close patent loopholes to allow generic drugs to Americans. I work with Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to bring Health information technology, saving lives and saving dollars. (audience claps)
2nd Question. I live downriver and I am appaled at trash that comes in what are you doing/what do you think should be done about it?
Debbie - It’s crazy but under NAFTA trash is considered a commodity under Free Trade. President Bush could stop it, but they refuse to stop it. We asked the EPA to stop it, and finally in the 11th hour the House of Representatives we got a bill. I have a strategy to raise inspection fees and trash from
Mickey - Nobody can be against trash. But she’s been talking trash for over a decade (ooo's and boo's from the audience) - the minister of Ontario only called her because he knew there was a deal in the works. It's a win in Canada, so how can it be a win here? In her commercial she said Congress wouldn’t act, but she is Congress, saying one thing, doing another. She blames everyone time and time again – we need someone who is going to get results. She votes more than most people in Congress along straight party lines. She doesn’t reach across party lines. I’m gonna go there as a senator from Michigan first, who happens to be Republican – because we need results. (audience claps)
3rd Question. Do you believe there is a health care crisis, how would you insure equal access for all
Mikey – Certainly. Most of what we get is partisanship. We need to litigate – we have defensive medicine in proatctic we have junk lawsuits. We need more different consumer based savings in the market. She’s voted against it What is your employer going to pay... We have to have more consumer participation in the practice. More government madates. We ought to streamline and have paperless systems. With her, it's rhetoric vs. results.Debbie – Mike, its your president and your congress that won’t stop trash.(Oo's, claps, and groans from audience) Health care is something that should be a right, not a privilege so that it won’t cost more, but will cost less. If we stopped using the ER to treat the un-insured we could bring costs down for businesses. Association health plans are opposed by small business associations because they are bad for Michigan. I’m leading a bipartisan bill to provide health information technologyand covering the catastrophic costs for Michigan – something that our auto makers have been asking for. I've worked on Prescription drugs – you can bring back lower-priced drugs from Ontario – we can do better on health care.
4th Question - from the students of North Farmington High School. Brain Drain – what can you do to stop young people from leaving the state because of lack of jobs?
Debbie -I’ve stood up and said no to Bush and Congress as they cut $12Billion in student loans. Which has left it running on to the back of the middle class families. For us in Michigan – if No Child Left Behind was funded as it was originally written, there would be close to $1Billion more for us in public eduation. I want to make sure every child has an opportunity to make it. We must invest in future. To the young people – you should have every opportunity to succeed.
Mikey - I have a plan for this – we need to make a difference. I have three kids, and I want them to be able to find jobs after college. She stood by and watched while the President plucked the money away. Republicans and Democrats are wasting your money left and right. "It's an equal opportunity silly house," But she gives Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants while I have kids going to college. Where is the answer?5th Question - It's been a bad month in
Mikey– Iraq is a huge problem. I have a band (on his wrist) to think about them everyday, the men and women who are there. I was encouraged by Sec. Baker who is out there looking for solutions. We can't pull people out voluntarily. If we leave Iraq and the Middle East there will still be people who want to kill us and destroy our way of life. We need to support them. (bell chimes to signify time is up)
Journalist who asked original question - "Sheriff – can you address the question – would you have voted yes or no to go to war?" (audience claps)
Debbie- Mike, you can have 15 seconds of my time to answer that. (audience laughs and claps)
Mikey - Well, I would have liked to see the documents. Senator, did you see the intelligence documents before..
Moderator- Your time is up ---(lots of mumurs from audience and talking)
Debbie - I want my time back since he's still not answering the question. Sheriff, Yes or No? There is no 'Maybe' button in US senate – which one? (cheering, clapping from audience)Yes or no, Mike its simple...you have to know that I sat in Sec. Rumsfield's conference room going over the intelligence info – after I voted to go into Afghantistan, I could not vote in good conscious to go to
6th Question. I was disappointed by the McBain bill vote by Stabenow – why did you vote for it and Bouchard- would you have voted for it?
Debbie- This is a very important issue – we passed bill to define what torture is, never before had to do that. Now we have a question of whether or not we want to try folks who are part of Al Queda. The fight on this bill was on the amendment process. I support habeus corpus – we needed 51 votes, didn't have them, we needed something on it or nothing. I believe it's better to have a process then to not have a process – it was important.
Mikey – Iraq, what I was trying to say, did she actually read the intelligence support sheets – I didn’t get to read them – but I could have. President Clinton issued an order to stop taking info from bad people. That’s how you need to base you decisions, YES – I would have voted yes, but it's hard to say without really good intelligence. This is a dangerous world. North Korea, Iraq, we need to solve a problem issue.
7th Question. On the campaign trail there has been a negative tone. What is one thing that he/she has done that is good for Michigan and please, don't attempt any cheap shots. (From another high school group)
Mikey- I absolutely believe that Debbie's has devoted her life to public service. More people should. I talk about specific issues I don’t question her integrity or motives. Too many people in DC become too extreme. We need to disagree to agree. I thank her for her service. I'm sure there will be other great things she can do next year. (ooo's and boo's and claps from audience)
Debbie - I'm looking to my 1st day in US Senate to do great things. Mike and I both safe – sense of public service. His daughter on air did do a good job. I also know that it is important to work across the aisle. I do work across the aisle, with
8th Question. Illegal Immigrants – did you really vote to give Social Security benefits and citzenships for Illegal Immigrants?
Debbie – Social Security is not given to illegal immigrants and no one voted for that. I did vote against an immigrantion bill because it went too far. Diversity is our strength. We need a strong legal system that works for everyone. It is very important that we don’t do anything that threatens our jobs here in Michigan, which is my #1 concern. Encourage all of you to vote against Prop 2 we have such great strengths here.
Mikey - This is a critical issue – there was an amendment that would specifically prohibit Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants and she voted against it. Again, more Washington speak. I will not allow social security benefits to be give given to illegal immigrants. (applause) Everyone is worried how could we in any sane moment give them our benefits that we work hard for. We need someone who sees problem and fixes it. (applause)
Debbie –Thank you again – to all my friends, I’m so proud to be your senator. There’s no maybe button in senate and he didn’t say yes or no on he would have voted on the social security bill for illegal immigrants. The bill was bad so I voted against it. I am fighting for our way in our life. The Observer and Eccentric Newspaper in Oakland County endorsed me and said that your policy stances look like they were taken right from the Republican party website they haven’t worked for us and they won't. I am fighting for our middle class. I get results and every day it is my honor to serve you. Thank you. (big applause)
Mikey – I would have opposed the immigration bill and would have opposed President Bush on that. But George Bush isn't on the ballot, I am.