Klobuchar, Bills Debate Deficit, Unemployment
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican challenger Kurt Bills took different approaches to handling the nation's debt Tuesday in their second one-on-one debate.
Bills and Klobuchar went back and forth on deficit spending during their hourlong appearance before an audience assembled by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce and the Duluth News Tribune.
Bills, a state representative and high school teacher from Rosemount, called the situation a "solvency" crisis and said Washington is not working.
"This isn't really an Amy versus Kurt thing. This is an America versus D.C. thing, all right? Our country is so out of equilibrium right now. A solvency crisis is when you have too much debt on the system," Bills said.
Bills criticized Klobuchar and other members of the U.S. Senate for relying on continuing resolutions rather than agreeing on full-scale budgets. He said an independent debt commission isn't needed.
"We already have a debt commission, it's called Congress," Bills said. And he said the budget could be addressed in a balanced way. On Monday at a University of Minnesota forum, Bills said he would be willing to vote to raise taxes as part of a budget solution.
But Klobuchar, a Democrat seeking her second term in the Senate, sought to make the case that Republican budget plans Bills has said he supports are one-sided and make massive cuts to programs for the middle class while slashing taxes for millionaires, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.
Klobuchar said she's voted to cut spending and raise taxes.
"I supported and voted for the last compromise, which is the Budget Control Act with its $2.2 trillion in spending cuts, more than we've seen in decades," Klobuchar said. "That is what is happening right now in this country. It's not going to be easy, but we are going to have to make some spending cuts."
Bills said he's not married to any budget plan and that he would be willing to make tough votes and compromise if he's elected. Klobuchar said she has a record of doing just that over her nearly six years in the Senate.
"Nearly two-thirds of the bills that I have led have been with Republican co-sponsors," Klobuchar said. "I have proven that I am willing to work with people across the aisle to get things done."
And Klobuchar said much of what she called antics in Washington are coming from people Bills has cited as mentors.
Down in the polls and campaigning with a fraction of Klobuchar's multimillion-dollar war chest, Bills responded: "I don't understand why my opponent, who is so well-liked in the state and has supposedly such huge polling numbers, why would she have to attack me and call me extreme? I'm a public school teacher. How extreme is that?"
Bills and Klobuchar are scheduled to meet for one more debate before the Nov. 6 election.
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