Taxes, fiscal policy, entitlement programs and numerous other issues were flashpoints Wednesday night in a debate on the campus of the State University College at Oneonta between Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and Julian Schreibman, his Democratic challenger in newly redrawn 19th Congressional District.
“My opponent has been running for a year now, and he hasn’t told us what budget he supports,” Gibson said of Schreibman during his opening statement before a packed room in Morris Hall.
Gibson, attempting to establish himself as a bipartisan legislator, emphasized several times during the debate that he voted for the Cooper-LaTourette budget bill in the House this year. The bill was a bipartisan effort sponsored by Reps. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, that received just 38 votes: 22 Democrats and 16 Republicans, including Gibson.
The congressman called the bill, which even its sponsors conceded beforehand was doomed, an attempt to start a dialogue in a partisan Congress
“The congressman’s voting record reflects a very different vision,” Schreibman countered. “In addition to voting to slash educational opportunity, he’s voted to end the guarantee of Medicare, turn it into a privatized voucher program, voted to restrict a woman’s right to choose and to defund Planned Parenthood.”
“He’s never a moderate when it matters,” Schreibman said.
The two men skirmished over a question about Planned
Parenthood, which Gibson voted to defund, despite the fact that it spends just 3 percent of its budget on abortion-related activities.
Gibson responded that his record was clear, “that I support women’s health, that I support fully funding women’s health.” He said he welcomed the “chance to set the record straight,” adding that he does not support overturning Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that allowed legal abortions.
However, he said, he doesn’t support late-term abortions or spending federal money on abortions. He added that if Planned Parenthood were to establish a subsidiary that dealt exclusively with abortion services, “I can’t imagine there would be a problem with federal funding continuing for healthcare services.”
Schreibman responded that a District of Columbia bill that Gibson supported “has no exception for cases of rape and incest.”
“This question … is not about abortion at all,” he said. “That’s not what Planned Parenthood spends its federal money.”
He added that the use of federal money for abortions has been illegal for 30 years.
The two also clashed over Medicare, with Schreibman criticizing Gibson’s 2011 vote for a budget that would have turned the entitlement program into a voucher system and Gibson replying that something has to be done to stave off future funding problems.
The two returned several times to the county’s economic problems, with Gibson stating that Cooper-LaTourette would cut some programs and lower tax rates while increasing revenues through growth.
“The one candidate here who supports tax increases is sitting to my right,” Gibson said of Schreibman’s insistence that tax rates not be reduced for the wealthy.
“The one candidate who voted for tax increases is sitting to my left,” Schreibman shot back.
The debate was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Oneonta Area, with Laurel Elder as the moderator. Sam Pollak, editor of The Daily Star; Ted Muehl, news director of Townsquare Media; and Jim Kevlin of the Daily Freeman were the media questioners.Debate rebroadcasts The debates hosted by the Oneonta Area League of Women Voters are scheduled to be rebroadcast on public access Channel 23, and to be made available on the league's website, www.lwvoneonta.org. The Oct. 17 debate between state Assembly candidates Bill Magee and Levi Spires, and state Senate candidates James Seward and Howard Leib, is available on the website now. It will be rebroadcast at 6 p.m. Oct. 31; 9 p.m. Nov. 1; 1 p.m. Nov. 2; and 1 p.m. Nov. 4. Wednesday's debate, between congressional candidates Chris Gibson and Julian Schreibman, will be rebroadcast at 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Tuesday; 9 p.m. Nov. 1; and 3:30 p.m. Nov. 4.