Charles Boustany, Jeff Landry Meet In One And Only Louisiana 3rd Congressional District Debate
LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL) -- The hostility and negativity that has pervaded the campaigns of both Rep. Charles Boustany and Rep. Jeff Landry continued tonight as the two met for the one and only debate between the two front-runners for Louisiana's 3rd Congressional district.
During his introduction, Boustany almost immediately accused Landry of lying.
"My campaign never lied to you in order to get your vote," Boustany said. "I never invited special interest groups to come into south Louisiana and pollute it with distorted facts. I won't bring in paid guns to lie to the people here. That's Landry's game."
But Landry immediately countered in his introduction, accusing Boustany of doing nothing in his eight years in office.
"You see, his campaign is exactly why we can't fix what is wrong with this county," Landry said. "We can't have an open and honest debate about the issues that affect the country because people like Charles are only concerned about re-election. They'll do or say anything to get elected, and we the people are left trying to sift through the garbage to determine who's best to lead us."
From there, the attacks continued.
On the issue of the Affordable Care Act, Landry continually asserted that Boustany approves of 80 percent of the law, even though both have vowed to repeal "Obamacare" if given the opportunity.
"I voted against 'Obamacare,'" Boustany said heatedly. "I was the only one in this race that voted against 'Obamacare.' I voted to repeal 32 times."
"Mr. Landry is lying," he said.
Landry said he favors a healthcare reform plan that provides incentives for individual citizens to purchase their own healthcare, instead of the "1950s model that incentivizes the employer to give the employee insurance."
Touting his 30 years of experience in the healthcare system, Boustany expounded on his plan to expand health savings accounts and his role in writing the alternative to the President's Affordable Care Act.
But in a theme that ran throughout the campaign, Landry accused Boustany of seeing the Medicaid and Medicare crisis coming and doing nothing to fix or prevent it.
"Charles saw that train coming down the track," Landry said. "There was nothing."
To make medicare more efficient, Boustany said he favors putting "recipients and beneficiaries back in control of their healthcare destiny and [taking] steps that will improve the quality and the delivery of the healthcare system so that they have access to a good doctor which they currently do not have right now in far too many cases."
Boustany pointed out that Landry is in support of a budget which would gut Medicare. Landry, however, accused Boustany of doing nothing to fix Medicare during his eight years in office.
Landry said he wants to take the government and insurance companies "out of the practice of medicine," citing that the "federal government will control over 50 percent of the healthcare spending out there."
He said the "doc fix" is a problem that needs to be addressed but one which Boustany and others in Congress have simply kicked down the road as they would a can.
When the debate turned to the negativity of both campaigns and on what each would do to change the hostile climate, both sides turned to attacking each other once again. While agreeing with the premise behind the question, Landry expressed disappointment that Boustany has resorted to mud-slinging and once again cast Boustany's so-called liberal record in a negative light.
But Boustany shot back, saying Landry started the debate by using such mud-slinging commentary, defending his record on Medicare and immigration while in a divided Congress.
On the issue of creating jobs in the oil and gas industry, Boustany said he is a "staunch advocate of the oil and gas industry" and was one of the first to attack the drilling moratorium.
"I stopped a $60 billion tax increase...on our industry," Boustany said. "What did Mr. Landry do? He proposed a new job-killing unfunded mandate that's going to add $400 million to our oil and gas industry."
"Again, it's just unbelievable," Landry responded. "I know Charles, it's hard. You never worked in the oil and gas industry. I created jobs in that industry. I care about those workers."
Landry then lauded his record on bringing oil and gas jobs to St. Martin Parish, in particular the landing of a Baker Hughes to a new industrial park.
"We worked hard and brought thousands of jobs into that area," Landry said.
When the conversation turned to the debt-ceiling increase, Landry said he was threatened with his job if he did not vote for House Speaker John Boehner's bill which would have raised the debt-ceiling and avoided a potential default on the country's debt. Landry says he didn't care if he lost his job.
Boustany called the debt a national security problem, calling out Landry for missing the vote on the bill to raise the debt-ceiling. But Landry said he was there for the vote, calling the debt-ceiling issue a cash-flow issue. He accused Boustany of falling into a Washington culture that takes advantages of the country's seniors.
Boustany said the reason for the country's credit downgrade was the constant bickering back-and-forth among members in Congress.
Boustany said he did not regret a single vote he made. Landry countered that Boustany would not admit to being wrong, and this was a reason he needs to be fired. Landry said he would vote the way his constituents want him to vote, not the way the House Speaker would prefer he did.
On the issue of solving America's economic problems with taxation and spending, Landry said he is in favor of the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill presented in 2011.
Boustany is in favor of the budget plan presented by vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, marking it as the clearest platform to reduce the debt and reform the tax code. He said he favors an energy program which would help grow the economy and that he's the only member of the Louisiana congressional delegation working on such legislation.
Landry said at some point, the American people are going to get fed up. He said historically, the country has spent 15 percent of GDP. He said today, spending is at 25 percent of GDP. He favors cutting back on spending levels to those of 2008.
Boustany said under President George W. Bush, the budget was on its way to being balanced, and then President Barack Obama took office.
Both candidates were asked to name three things good about Congress given its low approval rating. Boustany applauded the number of physicians in office who understand the medical process.
Landry said Congress should be a reflection of the country. He said we need to get rid of politicians who only care about the next election. Landry says he would fix this by leading and accurately reflecting the constituents he serves.