Candidates split on spending

Terry leads White in fundraising

Published Wednesday, October 13, 2010: By Paul Goodsell, OMAHA WORLD-HERALD

Rep. Lee Terry faced criticism Tuesday from challenger Tom White that he has done nothing to change Congress during his six terms in office.

“You cannot pretend to be an outsider when you've been in Washington for 12 years,” said White, a Democrat who is an Omaha state senator. “Washington is broken, and sending the same people back won't fix it.”

Terry, a Republican, said he has repeatedly voted against spending proposals that would add to the deficit and is a strong voice for helping the private sector, not government, create jobs.

The two 2nd District congressional candidates commented during their first debate this fall. The hour-long matchup was sponsored by The World-Herald and Cox Communications. The candidates are running in a swing district that favored Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008, and both Terry and White touted their bipartisan credentials.

White said he is a pro-life, pro-gun fiscal hawk who believes in good ideas, not party affiliation.

“We seem to have lost the ability to cooperate across party lines,” White said.

Terry said he regularly works with Democrats, citing the results of a survey conducted by the Hill newspaper last year. Democrats surveyed by the paper identified Terry as one of the easiest Republicans to work with on Capitol Hill.

Terry said he has supported Obama's policies on Afghanistan and gave a neutral assessment of Obama's record.

“I'm not sure the president has had a real opportunity to show what he can do yet,” Terry said.

But the two candidates challenged each other sharply. White said Terry often takes positions that run contrary to the middle class and would benefit Wall Street and big business.

Terry criticized White for supporting the economic stimulus bill, which he called ineffective, and the federal health care legislation.

“We've seen that experiment didn't work to create jobs,” Terry said of the stimulus spending.

White said Terry claims to be a fiscal conservative yet has voted for budgets that ballooned the national debt.

Mike Holmes, The World-Herald's breaking news editor, moderated the debate.

The candidates fielded questions from World-Herald political reporter Robynn Tysver and World-Herald Washington bureau chief Joseph Morton. Many of the questions were suggested by readers.


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