Vote 2012: U.S. Senate Debate

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Arizona Horizon hosts the first debate for the candidates seeking the U.S. Senate seat of retiring U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. The hour long debate, starting at 5pm, includes the three candidates running for Senate: Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, Democrat Dr. Rich Carmona, and Libertarian Marc Victor.

Ted Simons: Good evening. Welcome to the special vote 2012 edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Tonight's show is a debate. It is the first debate between candidates competing for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Senator Jon Kyl. As with all of Arizona Horizon's debates, this is not a formal exercise. It's an open exchange of ideas. An opportunity for a give and take between candidates for one of the state's most important offices. As such interjections, even interruptions are allowed provided that all sides get a fair shake. We'll do our best to see that that happens. Three candidates are in the race for Arizona's open Senate seat. They are in alphabetical order Democrat Dr. Richard Carmona, a former U.S. surgeon general; Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who currently represents Arizona's sixth congressional district. And Libertarian Marc Victor, a criminal defense attorney. Each will have the opportunity for a one-minute opening statement. We drew numbers to see who goes first. That honor goes to Richard Carmona.
Richard Carmona: Thanks, Ted. Happy to be with you and my colleagues. I appreciate the opportunity. This is an opportunity afforded me that I never really expected. The fact of the matter is that over a year ago when my colleagues first approached me cops, firemen, the EMS personnel, that docs I work with, encouraged me, said there was an open seat, you ought to run. The first thing I said is - yeah, I'm going to run as far away from Washington as I can. I just figured I had been there and I wasn't sure I wanted to go back to that dysfunction and hyper partisanship. The more I thought about it I realized we needed leadership there. Gridlock has hurt our nation. We have a fiscal cliff, we have a health cliff, nothing is getting done. Congress has stalled and I have been very fortunate in my life. The fact is that my mom only wanted one of her kids to graduate from high school. The fact is we did. I have been able because of a great country to get an education, to go to medical school, to be a police officer and a professor. That's because we have a country that's full of opportunity, that gives us that opportunity.
Ted Simons: Ok, your time is up. Thank you so much Dr. Carmona. For the next statement we turn to Marc Victor.
Marc Victor: Thanks, Ted. I'm Marc Victor. I'm a person who believes in freedom. I believe in individual rights and individual responsibilities. That's what America was founded upon. That's why we're a superpower because we have had more freedom, both personal and economic, relative to other countries. I'm not a politician. I say what I think. I don't sugar coat things. I don't change my views based on the audience that I'm in front of. I keep my promises and I'm a man of principle. I started my first business at age 17. I'm an honorably discharged United States marine. I served in Desert Storm. And I'm also criminal defense attorney for almost 19 years now. I started my Chandler law firm in 2007 and I currently employ 11 full-time people at my firm. I know what it's like to run a small business. We have strayed far from the principles of limited government. Our government taxes and spends out of control and our civil liberties are constantly under attack. We can fix it but we need to get government back into its cage.
Ted Simons: And thank you very much.
Marc Victor: Thank you.
Ted Simons: And our final opening statement is from Jeff Flake.
Jeff Flake: Thank you Ted, it's good to be here with you all. You know, just two days ago Cheryl and I received a wonderful phone call from my son Ryan informing us that we are grandparents for the very first time. Aden Jeffrey flake was born into a wonderful family but he was also born into $50,000 of debt. His share of the federal debt that we all hold. That's why the stakes in this election are so high. We have got to have somebody who understands fiscal discipline. That's been my record in the House of Representatives where I fought my own leadership at times on issues like earmarks. They punished me for it, but I kept at it and we don't have earmarks any more. That's the kind of attitude I'll take to the United States Senate. My opponent has a great resume. But a great resume is not a plan. He's been running for nearly a year now and we still don't know where he stands on the major issues of the day. We have a choice in this election. We can elect somebody who doesn't have a plan, who will be an echo of the Obama administration, or somebody who will continue to be an independent voice for Arizona. I would appreciate your vote.
Ted Simons: Thank you, Congressman. Thank you all for the opening statements. Let's get right to it. We have heard your opening statements. Let's fine tune things here. Why you and not him?
Richard Carmona: Happy to have the opportunity. You know my life has been one that has been best exemplified by the infrastructure of opportunity that this nation has. I'm a high school dropout in an immigrant family. I have prospered because of this great infrastructure of opportunity in our nation. I have been able to serve my country at multiple fronts, as a physician, as a police officer, as a professor, as a teacher. And doing all those things have allowed me to really appreciate how great this nation really is. And I want to make sure that we can preserve this infrastructure of opportunity so that every kid can get that American dream.
Ted Simons: Why you and not him?
Jeff Flake: That's exactly it. That opportunity won't exist unless we get hold of this $16 trillion debt. That's why we have to have somebody who has a record, who is willing to stand up for that record. That's been my record in the House. That's the record I'll take to the Senate. It's exactly the same reason, but I see that opportunity slipping away unless we can get this under control.
Ted Simons: Why you, Marc, instead of these two gentlemen?
Marc Victor: Well the problem here is the Republicans and the Democrats. The two parties are the ones who got us into this situation to begin with. It doesn't matter who is driving the bus. We have had Republicans in office, Republicans controlling the presidency and the House. We get more government. We have had Democrats in office. Democrats controlling the Congress and the presidency, we get more government. The Republicans and the Democrats aren't the solutions to the problem, they are the problem. They have caused the problem. We need a new plan, which is sort of an old plan. We need to get back to what our country is about, which is freedom, individual rights, free market, and limited government.
Ted Simons: Dr. Carmona, let's get into jobs here. The best way to create jobs in Arizona, the best way to create jobs in this country. How do you do that when so few people have jobs and thus the money to infuse into the economy?
Richard Carmona: There are a lot of opportunities for us at this time. Our state is suffering right now. When we look at Arizona when we look at the unemployment rate, the housing crisis, the fiscal cliff in our own state, it's extraordinary. Yet amidst all of that there's opportunity here for us to grow. We have to look at this in short term and long term. What is it that we can do to be able to bring jobs in right now? Really what we have to do is provide incentives to be able to get small business started again. We have to be able to look at infrastructure needs. One of the challenges is as I have travelled around the state and I have gone to the old Williams Air Force base, out to the other Air Force base, and I keep hearing from the businessmen we need infrastructure. What they tell me is Congressman Flake is not available because he believes that these things are bad. He has this connotation. I think that what we ought to be doing is working with business to create infrastructure to make Arizona the most attractive place to live and people will come with their ideas and business will grow. The fact is even the mayor of Mesa, who is a Republican, has said to me we can't depend on Congressman Flake. I will be there when they call me to provide that help to build the infrastructure for our communities.
Ted Simons: Respond, please.
Jeff Flake: Dr. Carmona, I give him this he is a quick study. He's only been a Democrat for a year now, but he has adopted the Democrat playbook through and through, that the source of jobs in this country is the federal government. Not businesses. Not entrepreneurs. This notion that we have to have the federal government to provide incentives for business, what we really need is surety on taxes and then to get a moratorium on these burdensome regulations strangling business in the state. So this notion that all we need to do is pick winners and losers like the Obama administration has been doing is the wrong prescription for Arizona.
Ted Simons:Is there no place for incentives?
Jeff Flake: Sure. The best is to allow individuals and businesses to keep their own money and to let the market allocate capital. It does it so much better than government does. Governor Romney said very effectively the other day, President Obama is trying to pick winners and losers. The problem is he's just picking losers. That's what typically happens when government gets that involved.
Ted Simons: Respond Please.
Richard Carmona: Yes. The characterization that the Congressman has mentioned is incorrect. What I'm saying is, and I agree with him, there are many things that we agree on you'll hear today. The fact is that we need an infrastructure to be able to build our businesses. So when we look at what actually is needed we need innovators to come here. Why will innovators come here? Because there is infrastructure; there are opportunities for them to bring their ideas to start factories. Again, if you look at some of the incubators we have created already they are dying to be able to have help. Congressman Flake of course has pursued this earmark ideology for a long time. The fact of the matter is that in 12 years we're still struggling. As I talk to our businessmen they say we desperately need help. When you're a Senator you need to work with us so we can build infrastructure in the state. It's hurting us.
Ted Simons: I want to get to you in a second, but he has to respond first. You are known for your fight against earmarks.
Jeff Flake: You bet. We don't have earmarks now and that's a wonderful thing. Now businesses and cities and others can compete for federal grants on a merit based basis rather than just by political patronage. That was a terrible system that we had. It's good riddance. So I'm proud of the role I played to get rid of earmarks. The last thing we need is to go back to the earmark era where people in Washington, politicians in the Senate and House, are picking winners and losers again in the economy. That's not what we need. What we need is for the federal government to establish and create an environment where the private sector can flourish.
Ted Simons: Mark?
Marc Victor: Ted, talking about earmarks is exactly the kind of craziness that we don't need any more. Earmarks -- we have a $16 trillion debt. Earmarks account for one half of 1% of the federal budget. We're better off without them but talking about that is like talking about a drop of water in the ocean. The government doesn't create jobs, the private sector creates jobs. If you want a good example, take a look at Texas. People in Texas are pretty close to the people in Arizona. What's the difference? Why is their economy doing so fantastic and ours is not? Because they are consistently ranked one of the top states friendly to business. What does "friendly to business" mean? It means low taxes, low regulation. Don't worry about government creating infrastructure. All the government has to do is get out of the way and let the free market do its thing.
Ted Simons: Earmarks aside, you've been criticized, by some in your district, to bring home the bacon as it were, for not doing enough to get federal money into Arizona for all sorts of projects. How do you respond?
Jeff Flake: Let me say most of the earmarks come in the transportation bill. The last transportation bill had 6300 earmarks including the bridge to nowhere. Arizona has been shorted for a long time in our transportation formula largely because of earmarks because delegations from donor states will say we'll take a lower formula in exchange for a few goodies. Earmarks. That has meant Arizona has only gotten 90 cents on the dollar rather than dollar for dollar. Now earmarks are gone and that means the next authorization Bill Ayers will get 95 cents on the dollar. That will mean hundreds of millions of dollars more for the state in a flexible manner. So Arizona is better off than---
Richard Carmona: Let's, let's look at this. The fact is that all earmarks are not pork. There are necessities the federal government can provide and the Congressman has been in Congress 12 years. He's had this ideological streak. As Marc says it accounts for less than 1% of the budget; almost insignificant. The fact of the matter is his colleagues have now figured out other ways to circumvent this. What we're talking about is smart investment in our communities. The fact that a Republican mayor will reach out to me and say we desperately need your help because Congressman Flake is unwilling to work with us. This is not about a bridge to nowhere. This is about infrastructure, this is about a federal government investing in a community and the return on investment will be huge when science and technology is engineered in the incubators we already have. They just need help to get started.
Marc Victor: You know Ted I just need to say---
Ted Simons: Hold on, hold on ---
Jeff Flake: Here's this philosophy again that all jobs have to be created by the federal government.
Richard Carmona: I didn't say that…
Jeff Flake: That's why, That's why Dr. Carmona is comfortable in the Democratic Party because that's the attitude of the Obama administration - that unless the federal government somehow creates it, it didn't exist. We need an environment conducive to job creation and we don't have that now.
Richard Carmona: Congressman Flake is mischaracterizing me, let me put it that way. The fact of the matter is, I am not here to defend Obama administration. I have been an independent my whole life. But I do understand, especially with the drive from the businessmen in our community, telling me we need help. We're willing to take risks, we are willing to invest; but we need roads, we need sanitation, we need clean water. That's beyond the scope of a small business. Infrastructure will help the entrepreneurs to take the risk to start the business to hire people. We'll get schools and get our economy going.
Marc Victor: But Ted, I wonder what the founders of our country would think of this very discussion. I wonder what they would think about the notion of the federal government taxing people in Arizona, then having our representatives go to Washington and beg for our money back so we can have roads and schools and things like that. It's un-American. We need to stand up and take a principle stand for a change and say, you know what, this isn't the business of the federal government. We need to decide how we spend our money. How about the people who made the money decide how to spend it for a change?
Jeff Flake: Dr. Carmona misunderstands how federal funding works. He says earmarks make up less than 1% of funding but acts as if the only way Arizona gets any federal funding is through earmarks. That's just not the case. Earmarks, if they are 1% of funding, then they actually influence a lot more than that but it's good riddance to get rid of them. Now businesses and municipalities and others can compete for grants where there are federal programs on a merit basis. That's much better than political patronage.
Ted Simons: I want to move to tax cuts and the idea of tax cuts for those making 250,000 or more. Do you extend that break? What do you do with the Bush era tax cuts?
Richard Carmona: I think now we have to extend the Bush-era tax cuts because mostly because we have to protect the poor and middle class. We drive ourselves in a recession if we start taxing the people struggling the most right now. They need to be extended. I would be in favor of protecting the middle class and the poor. I have no problem with somebody like myself paying a little more tax now but to cut a deal to be able to deliver and protect the poor and middle class I'm okay with going through full extension of the bush tax cuts with the following Proviso, that my colleagues would agree we stop kicking the can down the road because Congress has failed to deliver on tax reform for a long time. We need comprehensive tax reform. And this shows us that we are in trouble by continuing to kick the can down the road.
Ted Simons: Proviso good to you?
Jeff Flake: We need to extend the tax cuts. Now is not the time to raise taxes on people. People say, well, it's just for people making 250,000 or more. You have to understand a lot of businesses if you tax them more these are jobs that are not created. But Dr. Carmona seems to have a position on every side of this issue depending on the audience he's talking to. I have read several positions he's taken on this issue.
Ted Simons: Please respond.
Richard Carmona: Congressman Flake is doing his best to run from his record and trying to characterize me as something I'm not. I have been an independent all my life. I chose the Democratic Party because when I looked at what the Republican party was doing and what Congressman flake was doing to vote against veterans' benefits, transition training, combat bonus, when I looked where the Republican party was on the birther bills, denying women access to health care, when I looked at what they were doing with seniors and putting seniors a't risky couldn't possibly line up with the Republican party on those things because it's not the Republican party I used to know. I'm a closer fit to the Democrat party. It's not a perfect fit but I'm being mischaracterized because he's running from his record.
Marc Victor: The Republican party of today has nothing to do with the Republican party that used to talk about small government and individual rights. Absolutely nothing. I know Barry Goldwater, had he been here, I'm sure he would ask Mr. flake about his vote for the patriot act, I bet he's rolling in his grave. Regarding tax cuts the bush era tax cuts didn't go far enough. We need to move to a place where we are moving to abolish income tax entirely. It's not good for us as Americans. It doesn't help create jobs. Barack Obama said the other night that he didn't want to raise taxes on the middle class because the middle class goes out there and buys cars. So does the rich. The rich spends money too. We pretend we want to punish the rich. The rich are part are of the crowd that invest money to create jobs. That's what we need to do in America, We need to cut everybody's taxes as far as possible which we can't do until we cut spending.
Ted Simons: Congressman, would you okay $3 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue?
Jeff Flake: You never get that bargain. I believe. There are some Republicans who say you can't have if you lower the top tax rate that you can't produce any new revenue for government. I don't believe that. I say if we generate new revenue, then pay down the debt faster, buy down the rate further. I'm not one who says you can't generate any new revenue. For example, there was a question a while ago about an ethanol subsidy that I have been trying to get rid of for years. We finally did it. It's about $6 billion. Some Republicans say if you get rid of that you need to have another tax cut so it's revenue neutral. If you can get rid of a bad subsidy, get rid of a bad subsidy.
Ted Simons: You would be against that kind of a plan?
Jeff Flake: 3-1 you'll never see it. Every time we get a plan like that or supposedly do we don't see the cuts.
Richard Carmona: notice the Congressman what he's accused me of, not answering the question, he's not answering it.
Jeff Flake: I'm I saying I would oppose it.
Richard Carmona: That's not what you said.
Ted Simons: The idea that lower taxes equals growth means more revenue to the government. Supply side, whatever you want to call it, that economic theory. Valid?
Richard Carmona: It is to a certain extent. The markets are much more complex but the fact is I'm in agreement with Mark. In fact I'm in agreement with the Congressman that we have to do everything we can to lower tax rates. The fact is we have dug ourselves into a hole because of the fiscal irresponsibility of Congress. As Mark pointed out, now you know our GDP is being competed by our debt. We have to do something about it. We don't want to raise taxes now because that will push us further into recession but we need to start generating income. That's through economic growth. We have to cut spending. It's exactly what the Congressman has said. I'm sure Mark feels the same.
Marc Victor: I would never, ever support raising anybody's taxes for any reason whatsoever.
Ted Simons: for no reason?
Marc Victor: There's absolutely nothing that anybody could say to me that would justify me lining up to say I would invoke the power of government to take money away from my neighbor. People have a right to the money that they earn. We are going off a financial cliff here. If we don't do something immediately the Republicans and Democrats together have taken this country to the brink of financial collapse. We need to cut government by 50% just to get started.
Ted Simons: I have to keep it moving. What was learned by the great recession?
Jeff Flake: Well, that you have to have an environment conducive to economic growth and we didn't have that then. We didn't have a situation where private sector could move ahead. The private sector seeks certainty. You have to have certainty on taxes and right now we have certainty on regulation coming up. We had a lot of that in the great recession as well. If you read the forgotten man, it's a great tale of why some of the common knowledge about the great recession and how we got out of it is just not square with the facts.
Ted Simons: those who say supply side economics that we had during the Bush term and we have seen in great length here for the past 30 some odd years that supply side economics led to or helped lead to the great recession, you would say no.
Jeff Flake: No.
Ted Simons: What would you say?
Richard Carmona: I think it's more complex than that. But I think that that is a generally true statement.
Marc Victor: what was learned? Nothing. The Republicans and Democrats are continuing to do the same thing they have always done. Who is here talking about getting our money back to a sound system? We need to get back on the gold standard. Until we have that we'll have the government printing up money out of control like they do now. We have the Congress spending out of control and we're headed for financial disaster unless we have not tinkering, not tinkering around with earmarks and things like that. We should be talking at this table about what departments of the federal government would we be cutting on day one. There's a long list. Not earmarks. Not one half of 1% of the budget.
Ted Simons: doctor, should Medicare be reformed? Show Medicare as it exists be eliminated?
Richard Carmona: no I don't believe it should be eliminated. I think that we should keep it, but it needs to have an overhaul. The fact is we're spending about 18% of our GDP on health care but it's really sick care. Most dollars go to treating sick people. About 75 cents of every dollar is spent on chronic diseases. There's about $750 billion a year wasted in fraud and abuse within the system. Nevertheless the people need a health system. If they don't the problem is they will show up in an emergency room and we all pay. So having a system in place that will allow people to appreciate pursuit of optimal health and wellness to drive down the cost of care will help us.
Ted Simons: what about a voucher system?
Richard Carmona: A voucher system I'm concerned with, it transfers the risk from the patient, from the system to the patient, and so the patient now shops for health care. The problem is it doesn't do anything to drive down costs. The patient still is going to up the costs because they are eating the wrong foods, smoking, all of that. The cost rises. That's why I say, and I've spoken many times, both parties got it wrong. The fact is they are arguing over the dollars but the cost of care will continue to rise from 18% to 20, 25% of GDP, and it's going to break the bank.
Ted Simons: Medicare, reform, eliminate, what do you think?
Jeff Flake: It's got to be reformed. We're hearing what we have heard throughout this campaign. What somebody referred to as happy talk bromides that absolutely nobody could disagree with. We have to make sure people have greater health choices. We're facing a crisis here. Medicare as we know it will end unless we reform it. It will end for those currently in their senior years and for others as well. What we have done is put forward a plan. It's not a voucher plan it's called premium support for those under age 55 it won't affect those over 55. Dr. Carmona will criticize Republicans for taking actually taking a position but won't offer one of his own.
Richard Carmona: Here's the problem. The Congressman is showing you what it's like to be a chronic politician. He's been there a dozen years. It's always somebody else's fault. The Republicans have it right, the Democrats have it wrong. I'm like with Mark. I think both parties have got it wrong repeatedly. You have to look at the short and long term. The big cost drivers are chronic diseases most of which are preventable. If you forget that, the problem is it will keep going up. If you give them a voucher, do premium support and don't do anything else cost of care continues to rise. So really we will get buried by that.
Jeff Flake: The chronic politician is one who won't take a position. We have taken a position in the House of Representatives. Some may not like it but the Senate will not even pass a budget. The Senate has not under democratic control not passed a budget in more than three years.
Richard Carmona: I'm not defending the Senate. All I'm saying is the plan they have does not deal with the rising cost of health care. It simply transfers the risk to the patient.
Jeff Flake: what is your plan?
Richard Carmona: I said short term and long term. Short term there's a lot of fraud and abuse in the system. You also have to go line by line to what the programs are, to be able to reduce them max male. The public can't get a card anymore and do what they want to do. Smoke, drink, excessively. Don't wear seatbelts or helmets.
Jeff Flake: there we are again. [speaking simultaneously]
Jeff Flake: There we are again with statements that absolutely nobody can disagree with. But to actually put forward a plan as we have done in the house we get criticized but the Democrats will not put forward a plan. We all know compromise is essential in Washington. The problem is we have put our stake in the ground with the Ryan budget. The Senate won't put their own stake in the ground so we can say, hey, here's the middle. Barry Goldwater said politics is nothing more than public business. Sometimes you make the best of a mixed bargain. We know we need to but we cannot get Dr. Carmona's party to even put a plan forward.
Marc Victor: I notice Dr. Carmona said we need to eliminate fraud. That's never going to happen. If you think there's fraud now in the Medicare Medicaid world which is what a government run system is what we're talking about wait until you see the kind of fraud and corruption and things that are over budget under President Obama's health care plan. I'm going to say something that's unpopular. I would rather take a principal stand here. There's no support in our federal constitution for the federal government to be getting involved in anything related to health care. Show me where it is in Congress' powers in article 1 section 8, I'll change my mind. It's not there. Involving the federal government in health care is one of the worst decisions our country ever got involved in. Now, we have a situation and we need to move in a way that doesn't cause harm to our citizens to get out of that situation. But we need to stand up finally in our country, take a principled position that there needs to be a wall of separation between government and health care and government and most things.
Ted Simons: Dr. The affordable care act. How would you have voted?
Richard Carmona: The way it is if the President and Congress was not willing to change it I wouldn't have voted for it the way it was. The reason is that I believe it's unsustainable in the long run. I have always said as surgeon general and before, as nation we could come together and not politicize healthcare, but make sure all people have access to health care. When we look at adding 32 million people into the system the way the business plan is set up to take money from the doctors, money from the hospitals, they are already being threatened, they are not signing up to take more Medicare patients already. I would have encouraged the president first of all it's a big document. It's complicated. It got rolled out too fast. People were sick. The business plan needs more work, but I'm fully behind the aspiration to ensure every American has access to basic health care benefits.
Ted Simons: then really quickly, single payer plan, would you be more supportive?
Richard Carmona: The fact of the matter is single payer plan wouldn't work. Academically, we teach it in school, we talk about it. You'll never get it done in this Congress.
Ted Simons: affordable care act.
Jeff Flake: We really don't know how Dr. Carmona feels. He said he supported it. It's on tape. Now he's saying that he doesn't. [speaking simultaneously]
You've broken new grounds here because you've gotten into taking a new position tonight.
Richard Carmona: Congressman again is mischaracterizing. What I said and what they took out of little snippets in their videos is that I fully 100 percent support care for all. Here's the problems with the ACA. So yes, I'm a doctor. I'm behind health care for all, but people have to participate in the system. They can't just get a card and drive up the cost of care and expect the government to pay for it.
Marc Victor: They have to participate whether they want to participate or not. How does that mesh with what we're about here in America? We're a free country. The notion that the federal government will get involved and say whether you like it or not, you're part of the system. Everywhere else in the world it's been tried. We're going to go from the best health care on the planet to one of the worst.
Jeff Flake: This is a new position tonight. Dr. Carmona has been on each side of this. It seems to be a pattern here. In 2010, when the Democrats really took a bath nationwide, according to the Pima County recorder's office Dr. Carmona didn't even vote in the primary or the general election. So it's not surprising now that we have somebody who won't take a position on most issues and then when he does take a position he abandons it soon afterwards.
Richard Carmona: That's certainly a mischaracterization again. The Congressman is doing all he can to run from his record. The fact of the matter is where we need to be spending time is talk about why is he blocking access to health care to women? Why is he not supporting our veterans? I'm a disabled combat veteran. He voted against veterans benefits. He voted against many other areas repeatedly. When I looked at his legislative record over the years, it was just reprehensible how he's done so many things. The fact is he's putting people at risk in what he's doing whether it's Social Security, Medicare, veterans, women especially, especially with women right now. Because the fact of the matter is it is he who partnered with Congressman Akin on the bill to define legitimate rape.
Ted Simons: Let's start with veterans benefits.
Jeff Flake: You bet. If you have been in Washington for more than a year you voted on a thousand or so pieces of legislation. Rarely on a single subject. I voted for more than 100 veteran bills in my time in Congress. Dr. Carmona will pick three or four that had veterans in the title but were larded up with extraneous items. In fact one of them had funding for the national science foundation who just funded a study, $150,000 to determine why politicians give vague answers. That was funded -- so to vote for a bill simply because it has veterans in the title is why we have a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion and a $16 trillion debt.
Ted Simons: The question would be, then, is it worse not giving these benefits to veterans if it means nor more lard?
Jeff Flake: Those bills will be brought right back. They are popular. People want to support veterans and they should. When this ad ran that claimed that I would deny care for veterans with missing limbs and legs -- it did. It showed pictures of them. My father is a Korean War veteran. My brother Mike is two tours in Afghanistan, two in Iraq. Then April White, a veteran, when she saw that ad she called our office and said that made me sick because when I couldn't get the benefits I was due only one person would help me. That was Jeff Flake.
Richard Carmona: Let's look at the facts here. We can stipulate my father and uncle served in combat. My brother served 30 years in Special Forces. I'm a combat veteran. That's not the issue. The Congressman is trying to evade the issue. There are three specific bills he voted against those issues. The Iraqi veterans organization came out and gave him an F. Vietnam Veterans gave him a zero. Organizations who follow those things say he voted on the wrong side because kids are coming home with brain injuries, amputations, and he voted against it.
Marc Victor: This is part of the problem with politics. Everybody is afraid to say I'm in favor of not giving more to veterans. I'm a combat veteran. I served under a different scheme where the G.I. bill was far less and I was perfectly happy to do that because I served my country. Would I support everything that said investigate ran on it to give more to veterans? No. We have a job here, to get our spending under control. If you want to help the veterans we need to get out of this ridiculous Afghanistan situation. How did we get into this Iraq situation? This is what is killing our budget.
Ted Simons: We'll get to foreign affairs in just a second.
Jeff Flake: Senator John Mccain, a war veteran we all respect, saw that ad that Dr. Carmona ran and said it was deplorable to insinuate I would deny care to veterans.So it's just deplorable. It really is.
Richard Carmona: He can defend it. He can run from it. Have excuses. Special Forces we call those alibis. The fact is he voted against it. That's by the veterans associations I quoted already.
Ted Simons: Let's move forward with a topic that is always apparently front and center in Arizona. That's immigration. Congressman, you have been criticized for changing your position on immigration reform. Is that criticism valid?
Jeff Flake: No. We have to have broad-based immigration reform. We have to do more than just secure the border. The realty is in Washington for those of us who worked on this issue across party lines -- I worked for Senator Kennedy on this issue. For ten years I worked on this issue and hit my head against a brick wall like everyone else. Myself, Senator KYL, Senator Mccain realized until we have better border security no one will trust the federal government to move forward on other things. Once we do then we can move to the other reforms that are needed.
Ted Simons: We hear that a lot. No reform until a secure border. What does a secure border look like? When is the border secure enough for reform?
Jeff Flake: There is a definition and metrics that is used. The Yuma sector we have operational security there. The operational control, which is loosely defined as if an illegal alien crosses the border we have a reasonable expectation of catching them. That's what we have in the Yuma sector. I worked with Ralph Ogden, a Democrat, who will say we have operational control. We don't have anything approaching that in the Tucson sector. Once we get that then we can move to the other reforms that are desperately needed.
Ted Simons: Should we be adopting comprehensive immigration reform now?
Richard Carmona: We absolutely should. The fact is I have worked on that border as a deputy sheriff for many years. I understand that border better than most. I have been there, I've seen it. The fact of the matter is that's a dynamic issue. The Congressman trying to take what's happening in Yuma and transfer it to Tucson sector doesn't necessarily transfer very easily. Fact of the matter is we need comprehensive immigration reform but you pointed -- pointed out, the Congressman when it's politically correct he flips and flops. In his primary he was way to the right. He had Sarah Palin up. Realtough. As soon as the primary is over he goes back to the center with Hispanic television and tells them I'm going to do something for you. The fact is he's playing a political game. We need comprehensive immigration reform now. There's no sense in stalling.
Jeff Flake: We have to have a secure border. If we have learned anything in the last couple of years with the death of Rob Krantz, Brian Terry and others, we have to have a secure border. We have to make sure our labor needs are met. We have to deal in a humane way with those here illegally now. We have to deal with individuals who were brought here when they were two years old. It's a complex issue, but it has to start with border security.
Marc Victor: It's not that complex of an issue. We didn't have these problems many years ago. We came from a place in the United States where the statue of liberty was facing outward. We had waves of immigrants who just sort of walked into our country in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We didn't even have a term illegal immigration. The problems at the border are a function of the fact that we have an ever increasing welfare state. If people want to come to the United States for the purpose of pursuing their happiness, that does nothing but good for America just like it did then. If people are coming here for benefits, the way you fix that is get rid of the benefits. Until we get it that kind of a situation coupled with ending this ridiculous drug war, that's why We're having the problems at the border. If we don't address the drug war we can't get the border situation under control. We can't get our justice system under control. Nobody is talking about ending the drug war. We need to end the drug war.
Ted Simons: Does comprehensive immigration reform include a path to citizenship for those already here?
Richard Carmona: I think it should. When I look at comprehensive immigration reform the concept of securing the border is a dynamic one. There's never a day you can say the border is secure today. Our adversaries continue to have counter measures to what we do. Until we decrease demand for whatever people are coming for it's going to be an ongoing challenge. We do need comprehensive immigration reform. I support that and I support the dream act. But earned citizenship. We have to stop letting Congress use this as a divisive, political wedge. President Bush and Senator Kennedy came up with a great idea a few years ago. Congress failed us. Yet two politicians acted in a statesman like way to provide us a plan for a pathway to citizenship in the dream act. We're still fighting now.
Ted Simons: For those who say that plan is a shortcut for amnesty?
Richard Carmona: I don't think so. It's a solution to a complex problem that is plaguing is right now. You can't deport 12 million people in the United States. It's just not going to happen. You need a reasonable way to adjudicate this problem and I think President Bush and Senator Kennedy had it right and Congress failed them by not implementing it.
Ted Simons: Do you support the Dream Act?
Jeff Flake: If it has certain provisions in it. I introduced the Strive act. Within it was included a version of the Dream Act that didn't mandate that states offer in-state tuition, it just allowed them to do that. That we have to deal effectively with those who were brought here illegally. If the version of the dream act is good, yes, I will because we included it in the Strive Act.
Ted Simons: Does this mean do you believe those who were brought here as children need to go back to their country and reapply for entry into the United States?
Jeff Flake: I don't think so. I think we can find a way to deal with that, but it has to be part of a broader picture. [speaking simultaneously]
Richard Carmona: This is a change.
Jeff Flake: No, I introduced legislation for this. How can it be different? It's the same thing I introduced.
Richard Carmona: Congressman you've flipped a number of times depending on where you are to ingratiate yourself to folks.
Jeff Flake: That's not true.
Ted Simons: Marc?
Marc Victor: I was in court just yesterday, in Federal Court representing someone who was here as an illegal alien. His crime was being here. Illegal entry after being deported. The judge sentenced him to several months, actually got 16 months in prison that we as taxpayer have to pay to put him up in the bureau of prisons. He didn't come here. He came like most Americans, not looking for benefits, he came looking to work. This is a guy shoveling gravel down at the river in Mexico. That's the reason most immigrants come here. It's a fiction to think they come here to get benefits, but if we get this crazy national health care thing, if we actually wind up keeping this nutty more government involvement with the health care system we're doing is sending a call to attract other people. Come here and use the government benefits that we're setting up. We're creating a welfare state that's attracting people.
Ted Simons: You said it's a fiction they are coming here for benefits, now you say they are coming for benefits. Which one is it?
Marc Victor: Some of the people may be coming here for benefits, but most of them are not. I know there are people who come here to give birth and have a baby so they can get citizenship for their child. We need to eliminate that. No person has a right to live at the expense of another person. That's an American principle we have forgotten about in this country.
Ted Simons: Congressman, how much should the United States police the world?
Jeff Flake: I think we ought to protect our national security interests abroad. It ought to start with what is our national security interest, does our activity overseas further that interest, and two, there are other reasons to be active overseas. One is humanitarian. I think it's a great thing that we respond to natural disasters or intervene sometimes when we can save lives, but the foremost thing has to always be does this activity further the national security goals of the United States?
Ted Simons: Your Republican colleagues have criticized the administration for leading from behind. Do you agree?
Jeff Flake: I don't know how to characterize it but it's a bit schizophrenic. We're seeing it now on the Libya situation where the Obama administration can't decide what it believed and when in terms of why our ambassador got killed. Was it in response to a video that came out? That's what the Obama administration said for a couple of weeks. Now they are conceding, it seemsat least, that this was a calculated effort by probably an AL Qaeda offshoot.
Ted Simons: Our position in the world, Dr. Carmona. Is it where it should be? Should we be more involved, less involved?
Richard Carmona: I think what we have to do is to look out and ask the question: What is the global footprint we need to protect our National interest? The Congressman mentions the issue in Libya. The fact is having been in the military, having been vice president of the Department of Defense, we know intelligence builds over time. It's very difficult sometimes to ascertain specifically what happens. So I'm not defending anybody but saying some of the issues are far more complex. What you see in the Congressman is typical chronic politician stuff. Everybody is wrong on the other side. You see the democrats do it, Republicans do it on every issue. It's just really, really unfair because these issues are much more complex. They evolve over time. When the incident happens you don't have all the intelligence. You see how it rolls out.
Ted Simons: chronic politicians?
Jeff Flake: He acts like I always say the other side is wrong. Since I have been in Congress I have been able to pass more floor amendments than any of my Republican colleagues. In the past four years no Democrat or Republican has passed more floor amendments than I have. That can only happen when you have the temperament to sit down and work with people. I worked with Ron kind to end farm subsidy. I worked with Earl Blumenauer on those issues. I worked with Luis Gutierrez on some of the immigration issues. This notion that I blame the other side all the time is just not borne out by the record.
Richard Carmona: You mentioned Congressman Gutierrez. I heard that. I spoke to the Congressman. He told me we did speak but he said Congressman Flake abandoned me on the issue of immigration. There wasn't this bipartisanship that he's talking about. The Congressman said, no, we did have a discussion but when he needed to move he abandoned me and didn't follow through on what he said he was going to do.
Jeff Flake: Want to talk about who abandoned whom, the Obama administration had two years of a Republican Senate and house and the White House. Didn't even introduce the same reforms that had been introduced before. [speaking simultaneously]
Marc Victor: We are not the world's police. If you go back to George Washington he said don't be the world's police. I want to know will Congressman Flake is will he admit he got hoodwinked on Iraq? The government sold us a bill of goods about weapons of mass destruction for a country that has a GDP about the size of a small city, there was no threat there, no threat even made. No capability to harm the United States. But here we are nine years into a war in Iraq, almost 4500 United States servicemen dead. He got faked out on that one and that is something we should not have been involved in. I want to know if the Congressman will admit he was wrong.
Jeff Flake: Hindsight is 20/20 always.
Marc Victor: I appreciate that.
Jeff Flake: You had virtually the entire Congress move along with the resolution to go to war.
Ted Simons: Before we leave this, there's something happening in Iran with nuclear power and nuclear weapons, perhaps, that's getting a lot of attention. How should we handle the threat of nukes in Iran?
Richard Carmona: Well, right now there's an embargo. The attempt is to prevent the Iranians from getting to enrich uranium. Two steps. They have to enrich it and they need weaponnization. They are not there yet.Best estimates are six months maybe a year. If you're Israel you're worried. If you're the rest of the world you're worried. If we could get China and Russia to cooperate we could make the embargo hurt them. Some substrates are getting in so we need to do everything we can to prevent them from getting a nuclear capability. The problem is if they do it's not just a threat to Israel it's a threat to the whole world. We have an extremist group with a nuclear capability.
Ted Simons: Do we have the resources to act? Obviously we can do it if we want but we have already had a couple of wars.
Richard Carmona: We had two wars, we're broke. It's something we don't want to do but to protect our nation and to make sure that extremists don't have nuclear capability we may have to act.
Jeff Flake: All options have to remain on the table. We hope we don't have to go there.
Ted Simons: That's every option.
Jeff Flake: Yes. Every option.
Marc Victor: Back to Iraq. This is why before we send troops around the world for things like Iraq, Congress is supposed to declare war. They didn't. That should have been a debate in the Congress rather than sit there and get hoodwinked by the administration now almost 4500 servicemen dead, Congress should have had a serious debate before they sent troops ahead. The situation with Iran, of course America has a right, an obligation to defend its citizens. If there's a real threat over there, if that becomes imminent we have an obligation to act, to protect our people. I'm not going to get hoodwinked. I'm going to be a lot slower on that trigger go after a country like Iraq that really didn't have any capabilities.
Ted Simons: Obviously the campaign is for the United States Senate. The filibuster has been used in this current United States Senate a lot. Has it been abused?
Jeff Flake: Oh, I think every party will always say the other party abuses it. I like the system. I like the requirement to get 60 votes. It requires working across the aisle. I would not vote to get rid of it. Sometimes it's abused by both parties.
Ted Simons: It looks like from research, 1917 to 1970, 57 cloture votes. What's going on?
Jeff Flake: You have a dysfunctional Senate. We haven't had a budget passed in the Senate in more than three years. Somebody mentioned the other day that last time the Senate passed a budget the apple I-pad had not been invented yet.
Ted Simons: How can it be functional if the filibuster is always rearing its head.
Jeff Flake: It can. We have had the filibuster for years. Senator Mccain said this is the first time in 51 years that the Senate hasn't passed a defense authorization bill. So we -- the problem, we won't convince Harry Reid to change his stripes, but the beauty in an election year you just have to replace. That's why we need a Republican majority in the Senate.
Marc Victor: given the people in Congress now I would rather see gridlock than them getting through the kind of crazy ideas like raising the debt ceiling. You know Congressman Flake will vote for it. Maybe this time I stand corrected it appears to me maybe he will correct me only votes for raising the debt ceiling when there's a Republican president. When there's a Democrat president he votes against it. Rather than having people continuing to march us down the same road, we are better off with gridlock. We need to change hearts and minds.
Ted Simons: We gotcha. I want to know your opinion on the filibuster. Is it being abused?
Richard Carmona: It is being abused and I would favor doing away with it. It absolutely is being abused.
Ted Simons: You don't think it's being used properly?
Ted Simons: Before we go, couple of quick questions. Are you a member of the tea party?
Jeff Flake: No.
Ted Simons: Do you agree with tea party principles?
Jeff Flake: Some.
Ted Simons: Are you proud to be backed by the tea party?
Jeff Flake: You bet.
Ted Simons: Dr. Carmona, we have heard you are at times have been difficult to deal with. Difficult to get along with. Your temperament has been questioned. How do you respond?
Richard Carmona: I have had tough jobs. When I was asked to come into run the County health system you have to make some decisions. The board wanted to save the hospital. It was going under. We saved the hospital. I have had tough positions in life and sometimes leadership requires those tough decisions. Every one of these issues that have come up of course when I was vetted to be surgeon general and went through Senate confirmation they were all looked at appeared I got unanimous Senate confirmation as surgeon general. The Senate saw there was no merit in any of those allegations.
Ted Simons: And you would be up to cooperate with others in the Senate. It's some question it's my way or the highway situation with you.
Richard Carmona: The fact is that surgeon general of the United States I got things done because I was able to work both sides of the aisle. I worked for one of the most conservative presidents in history, President Bush. I worked with the Democrats well and I worked with the Republicans on health, security for the nation.
Ted Simons: Did you sign a Grover Norquist no tax pledge?
Jeff Flake: No.
Ted Simons: Would you sign such a pledge?
Jeff Flake: No.
Ted Simons: Why?
Jeff Flake: I say the only pledge I sign is a pledge to sign no more pledges. We have got to ensure that we go back and represent our constituents in a way that I believe in limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility. I don't want higher taxes.
Ted Simons: We have to stop it there. Each candidate will give a one-minute closing statement. Going in reverse order of the opening statements we start with Jeff flake.
Jeff Flake: Thank you. This has been a great debate. The Hallmark of this country has always been that the next generation will have it better than the previous generation. That's certainly the Hallmark of Arizona or the beauty of the sunset is only eclipsed by the splendor of the sunrise next day. We have to ensure we have somebody who understands the proper role of the federal government, that it's there to establish a tax and regulatory environment that businesses can flourish but not much more. We have a federal government that's far too large. $16 trillion debt. 1.3 trillion dollar deficit. We need somebody who will stand up and fight. I have that record in the house. That's the record I'll take to the Senate. That's why I would appreciate your vote. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Thank you. Our next closing statement is from Marc Victor.
Marc Victor: Ladies and gentlemen, our country was founded upon freedom. We're about individual rights and responsibilities. We're about free markets. We're about being free to both define and pursue your own happiness. It's about Americans being in charge of themselves. These are the principles that made us a great nation. But we have strayed so far from these principles. We have a busy body government. It's into everything. It regulates and taxes everything and everyone literally to death. It's involved in our lives cradle to grave. Over $16 trillion in debt, going ever higher. Highest incarceration rate in the world. Over 2 million in prison. Perpetual wars that we keep paying for with more debt and human lives. We're speeding in the wrong direction and guess who's driving. It's the Republicans and the Democrats. If you like how things are going, don't vote for me.
Ted Simons: That's one minute. We have to stop you there. Our final closing statement is from Richard Carmona.
Richard Carmona: Thanks very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you. You've heard debate tonight with a lot of different issues. Obviously, we have to get our spending in check. We also absolutely need to look at how we can affect economic growth. But what I'm running for is I want to make sure every kid has an opportunity to appreciate the American dream. Just like I did. The fact of the matter is Congress is broken now. Congressman Flake has been there a dozen years. It hasn't gotten any better. We still have communities that are struggling right here in Arizona. People have reached out to me, said, when you're Senator you need to help us. This earmark thing is killing us. This is not about pork. This is about us having infrastructure growth and opportunity. I'm going to -- not going to run to keep a party in power. I want to change Washington, make sure we have an infrastructure of opportunity for all the kids who want to move forward.
Ted Simons: Thank you for watching this special vote 2012 debate featuring candidates for the open seat in the United States Senate.

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