The CD 2 McSally ‘Chicken Bunker Debate’

The one and likely only CD 2 debate was held last night in Sierra Vista. (I searched for a video, but do not find one posted as yet).

chickenbunkerRep. Martha McSally (R-Raytheon) predetermined the debate sponsor, time, date and location of the debate and announced it in a press release without any negotiation with her opponent, Dr. Matt Heinz (D-Tucson). Hence the McSally “Chicken Bunker Debate.”

From the coverage in the Sierra Vista Herald and the Arizona Daily Star today it appears at first blush that McSally may have also selected the topics, if not the softball questions, as well.

McSally was not asked any questions that she did not want to answer, like those I have posted here for years.

Like her very first substantive vote in Congress, vote No. 6 on H.Res. 5 for House Rules Changes, passed 234-176 on a party-line vote, sets up election-year battle over Social Security’s finances in 2016:

Buried in new rules that will govern the House for the next two years is a provision that could force an explosive battle over Social Security’s finances on the eve of the 2016 presidential election.

Social Security’s disability program has been swamped by aging baby boomers, and unless Congress acts, the trust fund that supports it is projected to run dry in late 2016. At that point, the program will collect only enough payroll taxes to pay 81 percent of benefits, according to the trustees who oversee Social Security.

The House adopted a rule Tuesday blocking such a move, unless it is part of a larger plan to improve Social Security’s finances, by either cutting benefits or raising taxes.

But if Congress doesn’t act, benefits for 11 million disabled workers, spouses and children would be automatically cut by 19 percent. The average monthly payment for a disabled worker is $1,146, or a little less than $14,000 a year.

This bit of GOP gamesmanship has since been sidelined, but McSally voted for it.

Or her co-sponsorship with Arizona Senator Jeff Flake of the “Secure the border First Act of 2015.” The $10 billion plan [$1 billion per year for 10 years], which requires the Department of Homeland Security to achieve 100 percent operational control of high traffic areas of the Southwest border in two years. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the standards the bill is trying to set are “impossible to achieve” and called the bill “unworkable, plain and simple.” Martha McSally and Jeff Flake propose a costly and ineffective ‘border security’ bill.

Or this self-annointed “defense expert” expressing support for Senator “Tehran Tom” Cotton’s letter to Iran attempting to scuttle U.S. negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, Questions for Martha McSally on Iran negotiations, and war and Rep. Martha McSally endorses Sen. McCain’s Neocon war mongering with Iran.

McSally joined her Arizona Republican Caucus members in an op-ed at the Arizona Republic expressing their opposition to the P5+1 world powers nuclear agreement with Iran. Iran nuclear agreement is dangerous mistake. She is also supported by the John Bolton PAC. John Bolton has advocated for bombing Iran. Questions for Martha McSally: Do you support John Bolton’s call for the U.S. to forgo diplomacy and to start a war with Iran?

Or her having voted for an unconstitutional 20 week abortion ban and voting six times (so far) to defund Planned Parenthood. Or having voted for a GOP provision to nullify President Obama’s Executive actiont hat made it illegal for government contractors to fire employees based on their sexual orientation. In its place, Republicans voted to apply a broad religious exemption that opens the door to contractors discriminating against LGBT people based on a contractor’s religious beliefs. (The provision failed in the Senate).

Or the question McSally really does not want to answer right now: “While you have not endorsed Donald Trump, you also have not renounced his candidacy. Who will you vote for in November, and why?” Even John McCain has answered this question.

So this is how the McSally “Chicken Bunker Debate” actually went.

The Sierra Vista Herald reports, Polite sparring keeps McSally-Heinz forum calm:

Questions delivered by moderator and Herald/Review publisher Manuel Coppola focused on everything from border security to the Affordable Care Act, immigration and military “readiness.”

Heinz challenged McSally’s assertion that the military isn’t prepared for conflict, saying soldiers are training “every day.” He also said the nation’s defense is the best-equipped in the world with more aircraft carriers and armaments that any other country. Heinz emphasized the importance of transitioning the military to a more technological platform, and said what the military doesn’t need is “…thousands of tanks rolling across Europe.”

Heinz did criticize federal sequestration and called for a more “surgical” approach to achieving savings from the defense budget.

McSally reeled off statistics validating her position in a rebuttal, reporting the Air Force is down 500 pilots and the number of fighter squadrons has been reduced from 134 from before the first Gulf War to 55 today.

“This is a readiness crisis and we have got to turn it around. Lives are at stake across all services,” McSally said. “If we deploy our troops into harm’s way and we haven’t given them the training they need, that is dereliction of duty,” she said.

Heinz said his medical experience has made him uniquely qualified to “fix” the Affordable Care Act, and he blamed ongoing problems with the legislation on the role played by large insurance companies and large pharmaceutical companies in drafting the language of the law.

“It’s nice to think that the president wrote this or the Democrats in Congress,” Heinz said. “This was written by for-profit health insurance companies and we know this because they wrote themselves into the bill,” Heinz said.

McSally said Republicans have crafted a solution to “Obamacare,” after saying the president’s signature legislation was proving to be a failure. She said 14 of Arizona’s 15 counties have just one insurance company to choose from and costs are increasing rapidly for people who are forced to pay higher premiums.

“Even Bill Clinton thinks it’s a crazy idea,” McSally said.

The candidates agreed on the need for better border security, but Heinz focused his message on addressing the issue as part of a larger picture. He said “something needs to be done” about the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the country, while more can be done to improve trade with Mexico, which will help the local economy.

Heinz said border security needs to be looked at in a “comprehensive fashion,” which includes the implications on trade, the environment and immigration.

McSally pointed to her efforts to confront the U.S. Border Patrol on its “defense in depth” strategy, while serving as the chairman of a subcommittee under the House Homeland Security Committee.

She said the agency needs to “be at the border” and be properly equipped to deploy immediately when smuggling activity is detected. She said a recent study showed the Border Patrol has “56 percent situational awareness,” along the U.S. border with Mexico, meaning the agency is only watching about half of the entire border.

“That would be a failing grade in school,” she quipped.

The candidates agreed on legislative efforts to secure more funding for Cochise County and border communities that are enforcing federal laws and prosecuting suspects for acts that federal agencies refuse to take on. McSally and Heinz said Congress needs to recognize there are costs inherent to border communities that should be reimbursed.

Both also spoke of economic opportunity in Cochise County. McSally said the unique capabilities of Fort Huachuca, the growing need for collaboration between public, private and military agencies and the region’s proximity to the border are distinct advantages for the local economy.

She also plugged her recent legislation calling on the U.S. Park Service to change the designation of the Chiricahua National Monument to a national park.

Heinz pointed to diversification as an important goal to improve the region’s economy. He said efforts need to be made to develop more jobs in “green energy,” medical research and other sectors of the economy beyond Fort Huachuca and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. He said he plans on being appointed to the House Armed Services Committee, like the last Democrat who served in Congress from District 2, Ron Barber.

McSally, who currently serves on the Armed Services Committee, said existing missions can be expanded because of the capabilities of the fort, the Electronic Proving Grounds and the electronic spectrum. She said more missions would add jobs to the local economy.

The Arizona Daily Star reports, McSally, Heinz spar over health care, border and energy policies:

In their lone debate, rivals Martha McSally and Matt Heinz vowed to fight to bring new missions to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca, to fix the Affordable Care Act and to secure the border.

But the two often split on their solutions to the problems in Wednesday night’s Congressional District 2 debate in Sierra Vista.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. McSally, a Republican, told the audience it is obvious the Affordable Care Act has failed in Arizona, as residents in rural counties have few choices in terms of the health care marketplace.

“It doesn’t take a doctor to diagnose that Obamacare is not working,” she said, in a pointed reference to Democrat Heinz, who is an emergency-room physician as well as a former state representative.

McSally conceded the system in place before Obamacare was flawed, but said the decision to replace it with a radically different, mandatory system was not the answer.

The candidates argued about who is to blame for the problems with the Affordable Care Act.

McSally said it was fault of the Obama administration, while Heinz said that “big pharma” and health care insurance providers wrote the legislation.

Heinz said the ACA has done a lot of good across the country, which he’s seen first-hand as a physician, but admitted some changes are needed.

McSally said the entire system needs to be replaced.

In terms of border security, McSally called for “a better strategy” when it comes to national security.

She said the federal government has done a poor job of tracking immigrants who have overstayed their visas, and has also placed Border Patrol agents too far away from the physical border. But she praised a decision to replace seven miles of physical border wall in Southern Arizona.

Heinz said the underlying issues can’t be ignored while the U.S. focuses on physical solutions like walls, and that a comprehensive solution is needed to address how to handle the millions of undocumented people living in the United States.

“We can’t just fix the heart and ignore the lungs and the kidneys,” he said.

Asked about the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, McSally railed against “unelected bureaucrats” who could force closure of the Apache Generating Station, a coal-fired plant in Cochise County.

“Thankfully, the courts have stopped it,” she said; the plan is on hold while states including Arizona challenge it.

She said she voted with Congress to send a disapproval resolution to President Obama about the energy plan, but he vetoed it.

Heinz countered that McSally was part of what he called the least productive congressional session in the nation’s history, forcing federal agencies to act when Congress should.

Environmental policy should be balanced, he said, warning that a lack of environmental monitoring led to poisoned water in Flint, Michigan.

That’s all we’re going to get from our Rep. McSally. The debate in Sierra Vista is the only planned public meeting between the two candidates. McSally is hiding in the chicken bunker from her Tucson constituents. She will not even appear before reporters in a studio setting at KUAT (PBS 6) for a debate.

A member of Congress who fears answering questions from her constituents does not deserve to be a member of Congress. The constituents of CD2 deserve better than Martha McSally.

One response to “The CD 2 McSally ‘Chicken Bunker Debate’

  1. I think the League of Women Voters and local broadcast stations should schedule and invite the candidates to debates to answer questions relevant to their (potential) constituents, maybe even have a few (screened) call in questions, during a prime time hour. If only one candidate shows then he or she gets free air time to answer all the questions. Too bad the other candidate(s) didn’t show up. I would bet if the broadcasters did that regularly the candidate(s) would stop skipping debates or making unreasonable demands …. Might only take one such event to have candidates jumping a the chance to appear.