tv Arkansas Senate Debate CSPAN October 14, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
dislike more? host: sam youngman >> plenty of campaign 2014 coverage tonight on c-span. next, the arkansas senate debate between mark pryor and tom cotton. at 9:00, the south carolina governors the base between nikki haley and challenger benson jenin. we will be live for oregon governor debate between john kitzhaber and his republican challenger, dennis richardson. next, we will take you live to the university of arkansas and fayetteville for the second arkansas senate debate between senator mark pryor and his republican challenger tom cotton. live coverage here on c-span. kiatd those watching us on
in jonesboro and those joining us across the country on c-span and listening on c-span radio. bring you this debate live from the university of arkansas global campus in fayetteville. our thanks to the university of arkansas for their help with the first and only live televised debate between the two u.s. senate candidates. the debate focuses on three topics -- education, transportation and economic development, and job creation. 60h candidate will have seconds to answer followed by a 32nd rebuttal. we will make time for a 92nd closing statement. -- joining me on stage tonight are michael panelists -- are my co-panelists. and the moderator from talk business and politics, rosie bronx. >> our audience of more than 300
invited guests has been asked to remain silent during this debate. i know it will be difficult but i have total faith in our audience tonight to be able to do this. we will make an exception at this moment as we welcome the stage the candidates for the united states senate, tom cotton and mark pryor. [applause] mr. pryor, mr. cotton, it is to see this evening and have you in the same room at the same time for a change. occasion thatrare we decided to invite the state of arkansas and the rest of the nation to file in here. i talked to both of your mothers to get the debate
pointers of how to keep you guys under control should you get out of line tonight. i got a lot of recommendations from them. if i call you by your first, middle, and last name, you know you will be a little out of bounds. a drawing earlier today determine the order for opening and closing statements, how that would be and how the questions would be answered and mr. pryor, you are up first with your opening statement. >> thank you. when i talk about arkansas coming first, that is not a slogan for me. arkansas is written on my heart. you know i love this estate. you know the most important thing i can do is listen. that is what i have done. i have taken your good ideas to washington and we have made a difference. not so with congressman cotten. two years ago when he was running for the house, by his own admission, he was down in his own polls and struggling. that changed one day when he got a fedex.
he opened it up and looked in there and there were $300,000 in checks from out-of-state billionaires. he must've thought, this is easy. all i have to do is carry their water and they will keep writing checks. that is exactly what he has done. this year it is not $300,000. this year it is over $20 million from the out-of-state billionaires that have written to try to buy the selection. why? because they know they can count on tom cotton. they know he was the only one in arkansas to increase the age of medicare and social security to age 70. he was the only one who made big cuts at arkansas children's hospitals. only one to was the vote to double the interest rate on student loans. that is the difference in this rate. i listen to you and he listen to the billionaires. that is what i mean when i say arkansas comes first. >> mr. cotton, you have 90
seconds to open. >> i spent the last year traveling around the state, speak to a truck driver, a farmer, a nurse. they are frustrated with washington and they should be. -- i have not been in washington very long, but i have been there long enough to know washington needs change. it could use more of the comments as i learned growing up on a farm. it could use leadership and courage. washington simply is not working for arkansas families. wages are down, prices are up, obamacare is a disaster it, and we are $18 trillion in debt. parents are worried about their kids future. so am i. my wife and i are expecting our first child. we do not want her baby to have a future that is less prosperous and less safe. that is the future of obama's
policies. less prosperity, lesson safety and security. senator pryor has voted with 93% of the time and he cast a deciding vote for obama care. there is a better way. let's get the economy going. let's for po obamacare. let's balance the budget. let's rebuild the military. fors stop apologizing america. cotton, the 188 fighter wings mission was previously changed. it may have been transferred out of state. the river valley was promised new jobs when drones were added to the mission. what will you do to ensure these jobs return to fort smith? officerformer infantry who has been in combat, i can tell you there are few things that an infantryman love to hear
better than the sound of an a-10 warthog coming over the mountain. it is not sleek, it is not modern. it does save lives. close support for information -- infantryman. i try to fight it from the very first day that i entered into office. we need a manned up flying mission in arkansas. as your next senator, i will work to restore that because we have some of the lowest cost, highest efficiency training facility in the river valley. i'm going to work depend again -- work the pentagon day in day make sure they provide tools for soldiers overseas as well as jobs at home. >> thank you. i love working alongside people in fort smith. i started working on the 188 .r.a.tl years ago when b
came along. we were able to get that mission converted from f-16s to a-10s. that is converting from a-10s to drones. to answer the question specifically, we need to get faa approval to have those drones fly over this particular airspace and i have been working on that. i don't have that done, but i do know that recently we have been working to save the fire trucks in the emergency vehicles at that airport and that is an important part of keeping the airport open. i love working for fort smith. i love working alongside fort smith it is a very patriotic community. the 188 is a very proud wing. they have a long history. they have done great things. we need to keep them flying and strong. >> mr. cotton, you are entitled to a 32nd rebuttal. 30-second rebuttal.
>> it is one of the reasons we having to cut back on forces and arkansas. that is why soldiers deployed are being told when they return, they will not have a job. mark pryor will not take national security seriously because he is supported the radical military drawdown. >> one of the things i talk about to the military leaders in washington is the strategic important of the 188. they have great airspace. they are the crown jewel of this. it does not show up the first time you look at it. fort chaffee is basically right off the runway. the fact that they can do joint training, the fact that the navy seals are there, the fact they can do close air support,
drones, everything they need right there. >> the second question comes to you first. it is from scott inman. >> we reported last week that walmart is dropping its health insurance for part-time workers, following similar decisions by other big companies and they have raised premiums for full-time workers because of an influx of workers required to buy health insurance under the federal health care law. do you believe this is an unintended consequence of the law was it expected and should the lobby changed? >> let me say what i would say to those walmart employees. i don't know all the details about what they are doing and i don't know the inside details on everything. let me tell you what i would say to walmart employees in arkansas. they now have an option. they have the private option. they can get private insurance, because the state legislature, democrats and republicans, came together to provide the private
option. when it comes to the formal care act, -- the affordable care act, people in arkansas pre-existing conditions were routinely denied access to coverage. they are one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. the insurance companies had all the power. what we needed to do was to get patients back in charge of their health care. i do want to make changes in the law. i have already supported many of those. i don't want to go back to those days. i think that would be a mistake to go back to those days. >> mr. cotton. lostose workers at walmart their insurance and their premiums went up because of obamacare. because mark pryor cast the deciding vote for obama care. this is not an unintended consequence. this was the intended consequence of obamacare. they want people out of private insurance and onto government
insurance. those people at walmart or other companies do not want an option. they want their health insurance. mark pryor and barack obama promised them that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. they did not keep that promise. but so many others, they are feeling pain and stress of losing their insurance and trying to find a better option when they have an exact plan that suited their needs. they took that plan away from them so they could have government-run health insurance. i don't think that is good for arkansas workers, families, or businesses. >> 30-second rebuttal. you to pay attention to what the congressman did not say. he did not say he had any solution for people with pre-existing conditions. the reason he does not say that is because he really does not. in other context, he talks about the high risk rule. i am a cancer survivor, as you all know. i have been in the high risk pool. i have lived there.
it is no place for any arkansan to be. if we go back to the high risk pool, it is like throwing sick people to the wolves. arkansas, and think of that senator pryor survived his cancer. but many people were happy with their coverage under the high risk pool before was a limited. they should have been allowed to keep that choice, but obamacare eliminated the choice. senator pryor enforced changes in the law, but why did he insist then? barack obama's legislation. >> the next question is from diana davis. >> when we speak of entitlement programs, first and foremost this election year has been a discussion and focus on food stamps and they are being tied
to the farm bill. how long have food stamp spent a part of the farm bill and white you vote against the farm bill? >> -- and why did you vote against the farm bill? >> i voted for the farm bill. food stamps have been part of the farm bill for decades. it is one constituency working with another 48 deal that was not good for arkansas farmers. i grew up in a farm. my dad taught me that you cannot spend more money than you take in. we are $18 trillion in debt. the food stamp will, which is what i would call the farm bill, is a most a trillion dollars of new spending. farmers can expect to get one half of 1% on the return on that built and 75% of arkansas farmers get no benefit. what we need is a farm bill that focuses on the needs of farmers and i supported that. and a food stamp reform bill that gets people food when they need it, but also eliminates
waste and abuse and the institutionalized fraud that you see in states like massachusetts and illinois. mark pryor insists on doing things the old way. if you like the status quo, mark pryor and barack obama are on your side. i did votehe reasons for it as well as all the other members of the arkansas delegation, except for congressman cotten, is because we did a billion dollars in food stamps reform. we addressed $8 billion in this bill. this is an example of congressman cotten says one thing in arkansas, for the farm bill, but does another in washington. he was the only member of the arkansas delegation to vote against it. if you want one insight into why, you can go online and there atan audio tape where he is a luxury resort in california with his billionaire backers and as they are introducing him, they say that he has voted
against the farm bill and that that is a vote against arkansas and you hear a a huge over nation. that applause is still ringing in his ears. that is who he is listening to. he is not listening to you. he is listening to his mega-donors. i'm the only candidate on stage who grew up on arkansas on a farm. i am the only candidate who went to high school surrounded by so being fields. soybean fields. i know what keeps farmers up at night and gets them up in the morning. we had a farm bill and the house of representatives and all four arkansas congressman voted for. president obama issued a veto because he wanted more food stamps. mark pryor listened to who we always listen to, barack obama, and went along with him in the status quo. >> the rhetoric sounds good, but he is trying to further his political career and he is leaving arkansas behind.
what you see with congressman cotten is a business transaction. he goes to california to meet with his billionaire backers. other audio --o we are in a room full of investors. why should we invest in you? he turns around and gives him big tax breaks. they are going to get a big payday. they will get a return on their investment with congressman cotten. >> there's a lot of talk about helping the middle class. what is your definition? >> under law, there are a lot of different definitions. middle-class, i think of most of arkansas. that is maybe up to $200,000. that is different ways to judge it. we need to focus on the middle class. we need good middle-class jobs.
that is why i have the america made strong legislation. we focus on the middle class. congressman cotton seems to want to build the economy from billionaires down. i want to build it from the middle class out. that is what we need in this country. that is what has made america great. we had a strong middle class but the middle class is hurting right now. we need to do everything we can. in washington, we should be able to agree on jobs and the economy. we need to focus on the middle class and that has been my focus. we need middle-class jobs here. we need to bring manufacturing jobs back to arkansas and to america. all the economists say the time is now. >> mr. cotton? >> when i think of middle-class arkansans, i think of people i have met on the campaign trail. we met a couple with a two-income family. because obamacare drove up the
price of their health insurance, they had to sell their home and move in with her parents. that is the economy that mark pryor and barack obama created. in arkansas we have added 28,000 jobs in the last six years, even as the population is growing. tohave added 88,000 people be foodstamp programs. i think that is a tragedy and has to stop. one way to stop it is to get government out of the private sector. trusting arkansans and businesses and communities. we need to balance our budget. we need to repeal obama care. youred to let you keep money in your pocket, rather than send it to washington dc and hope you get scraps back. >> i am not sure i have heard a definition from either one of you of what the middle classes. >> i said up to $200,000. there are different definitions, but that is my working definition. i talk about the american-made jobs package.
first part of that is to repeal that inexcusable provision in the tax code were corporations get a tax deduction for shipping jobs overseas. i want to repeal that. it is the first section of the bill. congressman cotton has taken a pledge with these mega-donors to not do that. i disagree. be hangingpryor must around with billionaires of the things $200,000 is the middle class. a typical household makes $40,000 a year. that is down by oma's 5% over the last six years because of the obama economy. they raise taxes on businesses and individuals. that is what is driving jobs overseas. that is what is making it harder for arkansans to get good jobs on arkansas. that has got to stop. >> i would like to pivot back to
health care. we have certainly heard stories positive and negative about how the health care law is affecting arkansans. what we do know is more than 200,000 of them have signed up for coverage on the newly created health care exchange. many of them did not have insurance before. if we start over on health care reform, what happens to those arkansans? >> i think we have to start over because obamacare has been a disaster. it has continually created harm. we know we had problems with the health care system in 2010 when mark pryor cast his decisive vote. people with pre-existing conditions could not get coverage or it was not affordable. it has only gotten worse under obamacare. premiums are up 138%. got arkansas just cancellation notices of their medicare advantage plan because mark pryor voted to cut $700 billion from medicare to pay for obamacare.
when we repeal it and start over, we will do things like patience, and, doctors, let you shop across state lines, give you tax treatment. it is not about replacing obamacare, it is about reforming broken programs like medicaid, cutting red tape, sending programs back to the state. the state can treat their own populations as they see fit, not how barack obama think they can under obamacare. said, there reagan he goes again. facts,ws all these fake george w bush called it fuzzy math. i think that is charitable. here is the bottom line. overkansas, we have 200,000 people that have private insurance thanks to the private option.
let's give the state legislature, which is led by republicans and the governor who is a democrat, let's give them credit for coming together with a great bipartisan arkansas solution to get over 200,000 people private insurance. in addition, there are 40,000 people in the exchanges. that is close to most 250,000 arkansans that have try this -- have private insurance that have it today and not a year ago and commerce and cotton insists on taking that away from them. >> i would remind you that the question is specifically asking what happens to those arkansans if that is overturned? >> senator pryor wants to talk about fake facts. i would encourage him to go see the arkansas seniors who just got cancellation notices that they were losing their medicare advantage plans because he voted for $700 billion in cuts to pay for obamacare. part of health care reform is performing all health care
programs, including medicaid which is a broken entitlement system and running out of money. we can return that money to state governments and we can encourage them to make choices right for the population under obamacare programs. >> let me respond to that very briefly. he talks about medicare advantage. there are many more arkansans that are on medical or vantage -- medicare advantage today than the day the affordable care act past. he has no answer for the people he would take off of these private insurance policies in arkansas. he has no answer on pre-existing conditions. he has no answer on keeping your children on your health care until age 26. he has no answer on any of this but is insistent on repealing it. , shifting theor focus to education, on this university campus as well as in northeast arkansas and arkansas
state university and around the state at various institutions of higher learning, we have students who are incurring a mountain of student debt. they are caring this burden with them into their professional lives and paying well into the years they should be saving for their own children's education and higher learning. what you think is a fair interest rate for student loans and do you have a plan for helping students to pay back student loan debt? >> i'm a graduate of the university of arkansas, undergrad and loslaw school. this is a college town. little rock is in some ways a college town. great colleges and universities all over arkansas and we need to make education more affordable. i think a good student loan rate is 2.3%. congressman cotton has voted to double the interest rate on
student loans. in addition, he says he wants to repeal the stafford student loan program. here's the problem. when he went to harvard, he used stafford student loans. now he was to repeal the program. that is what climbing the ladder and then pulling it up behind you so no one else can find it. i can understand the struggles students face in higher education. i took student loans my cell. my dad is a farmer and my mom is a schoolteacher. , a mix the right choices of federal loans and private loans from our local bank. you don't get to make that choice anymore is a student because obamacare nationalized the student loan industry. obamacare grabbed money to pay for its own programs and took that choice away from you so the
bank where you have a checking account can't help initiate a loan for you. can givet bureaucracy that service even when they had competition. when they are a monopoly, it is really bad and that is why the cost of education is going up so high. under mark pryor's 12 years in office, the cost of tuition has increased about 84%. under the obama economy, people in their early 20's are seeing in unemployment rates increased by over 50%. that is bad for arkansas students and their families. , you look at congressman cotton, no solution. the reason he does not is because of his voting record. he went to harvard and we are proud of that. he did go to harvard, but one of the things you see over and over is thatgressman cotton
he brags on the fact he went to harvard. he has used harvard to further his political career. that is ok. it is not ok to then turn around and say you want to eliminate the very same student loan program that you used to get your education. >> i don't want to illuminate the student loan program. i wanted to compete with your local bank. this goes to show the hubris of mark prior and barack obama. what did you think the student loan rate should be? he said 2.3%. where did he get that, thin air? is mark pryor going to set your mortgage loan? is he going to set a loan for your tractor? washington politicians monkey around in the private sector and it hurts students. you can see it in the private tuition of the university of arkansas which has increased 84% in the last 12 years. >> the massive construction project to widen interstate 84 is underway in arkansas.
we getn you do to ensure federal dollars for construction and quickly, and you support your marks for arkansas highway projects? >> i do not support your marks -- earmarks. it is the gateway to hire spending, which is what we have had under mark pryor. in the last six years, senator pryor has voted for every dime in new spending. it is an immoral burden for the next generation. we can't build an infrastructure -- we can build an infrastructure right here and all across the country but we should get bureaucrats out of the business. why do we have to spend our money in arkansas to washington dc and hoping liberal politicians from around the country will send a few scraps back to us? i think we should keep more money ourselves and make our decisions or work with interstate compacts with states like missouri when we are building regional roads like i-49.
best solution for arkansas, not to spend ourselves and $18 trillion in debt begging politicians for a few dollars for rose we can build at home. >> i will disagree with congressman cotton on this answer because i believe in infrastructure. i believe infrastructure is critical to jobs. it is not just immediate jobs. it is not just construction jobs. american-made steel and cement is good, but is the long-term benefit that we get from an investment in infrastructure. the congressman takes the position because he voted to cut infrastructure dollars in washington. why? because the billionaires who underwrite his campaign have told him to. they say jump, he says how high. he voted against infrastructure investment right here in arkansas. that is bad for our future. i talked to the mayor of war and
if you weeks ago. -- warren if you weasel. they got a poultry plant. he thanked me. they said you got infrastructure dollars on wastewater disposal. they would not have come here had they not had that. infrastructure means jobs. >> it does mean jobs and we need more of it in arkansas. we do not need to go begging to washington politicians and bureaucrats, asking to send scraps back. it is a good revelation of his mindset. he thinks your money is his money and you should be grateful for him returning a few pennies of it. we need a highway bill that will build bridges right here in toansas, not send billions california for light rail. pryor if senator focused on infrastructure, why did he vote for an $800 to must which is more about giving away money to corporate cronies and buildings in washington instead of roads in arkansas? >> i would remind you that the
question addressed i-49 and do you support earmarks? >> i do support i-49 and i supported earmarks in the past. we do not do it anymore. i will say this -- if i'm elected to another six years, i want to finish i-49. i want to finish i-69. i want to finish i-55. i want to deepen the arkansas river to a 12-foot channel. every single one of those will add many, many jobs and help ,rkansas not just immediately but in the long term. all of those are good investments. >> you are doing a fine job of staying on time. keep an eye on that red light. , the next question comes from scott inman. budgetcongressional office announced last week that the federal deficit did shrink to a six-year low in fiscal year 2014 but the projection for the deficit over the next decade is
presumablytrillion, adding two more than a $17 trillion debt. what evidence can you provide that during your time in washington, you have had a commitment to cutting spending? >> if you look at my voting record in the last three years, i have cut $4 trillion in spending. in the last three years, i voted to cut $4 trillion in spending. wait too high when they were a trillion dollars a year. it is good news they are going down, but they are still high. this is what we need to remember -- we can balance the budget. we balance the budget 20 years ago when president clinton was in office and we did it by using discipline and good old arkansas arithmetic. that is what we need to do. one of the things we can do to help balance the budget is grow the economy. let's focus on jobs and the economy. let's get our economy moving again. let's build that middle class.
that means more people paying taxes. fewer people getting things like unemployment. that means it is good for the budget, good for the economy, good for america, and good for everybody. >> mark pryor and barack obama simply have no credibility on reducing the deficit in the future because look at what is happening to the deficit over the last six years. $1 trillion on average every year. mark pryor has voted for every penny of it. look what is happened since he got the washington. 2.1 train dollars in washington. -- $2.1 trillion in spending. now we are at a 3.5 between dollars in spending. that is a terrible tragedy for the next generation. i think of a time when my consist once -- constituents came from the river valley. we were talking about issues and the debt. how much are we in debt? you are in debt over $50,000. he looked like the kid from "home alone" when he learned he was a wave from his parents at
christmas time. we should not do that to the next generation. mark pryor and barack obama have done it continuously because they are not serious about reducing the deficit. i will. know me and you know i am serious about this. -- ie in washington know watch this closely and we have to get spending under control. cut is why i voted to spending by $4 trillion in the last three years. where i focus is on the middle class and small businesses. congressman cotton focuses on the top tier wealthy. i don't think you build the economy from the billionaires down. i think you build it from the middle class up. >> over the last six years of the economy, if you make a living off of assets or investments like stocks or bonds, the top 5% of all income earners, you are doing ok. if you make a living by working,
if labor is your means of putting food on your table, your incomes are down. arkansas have seen a decline of 5% and there's -- in there house hold income. that is because mark pryor is a rubberstamp for barack obama's policies. , and core teaching has established standards all across the country that if a child moves from california to arkansas, they are on the same footing with their knowledge. at the same time, some teachers are saying that we have removed creativity and critical thinking skills by hearing to the common core standards. if we eliminate the opportunity to explore critical thinking, aren't we turning our schools into assembly lines? >> i grew up the son of a schoolteacher. make a public
school the best in the state. we need to have strong public schools. we do not need washington, d.c. dictating educational standards to our schools. that is what happened with the common core. it started out as a voluntary, nonprofit idea, to try to establish general standards that could be adapted by states and local communities. and then barack obama and mark pryor hijacked it. toy used it as a tool dictate how you get federal money for education. i don't think that is right. i don't think parents should have to struggle to help their kid do math homework. i don't think we should use a one-size-fits-all method like, court to distribute your tax dollars back to local schools. that is barack obama's way. my ways to trust local communities. >>, and core is an important issue. i hear from teachers and parents about this.
it started with the governors. it has largely been a state issue. it has passed the arkansas state legislature. i don't support a federal color kill him -- i don't support a federal curriculum. i am a big supporter of public education. i went from first grade to law school in public schools and i'm proud of that. i think we need a first-rate education system in the country. children today in jonesboro and russelville, they are competing with children in china, and mexico. superioro have that education to train our workforce, to get people ready to compete in the global economy. isthe fact of the matter mark pryor does support a federal curriculum.
it is called the common core as implemented by the department of federal education. barack obama and posted on the state. you do not get the money if you do not use common core. mark pryor went along with it and we have teachers who are frustrated that they do not know how to teach their students. parents are frustrated because they cannot help their children do homework and i. -- dore struggling homework at night. they are struggling already, often needing to go. i don't think we need mark pryor telling what curriculum should be. >> again, education is very important and one reason congressman cotton is putting up this big smokescreen about education is he is trying to take your eye off the ball because he has voted to cut education. those are his votes in the house. he has voted to cut education, and you ask why he does that. billionaires,the the folks who have spent $20 million to try to buy this election for him have said to
vote against it. if they vote against the, he votes against it, he turns running gives them a tax break. gridlock in congress has caused one government shutdown which some say hurt the economy. many blame that on purely partisan votes were members of each party vote only with their party. you voted against the party line and why? >> lord. the partyed against line so many times, i am always criticize by democrats. the shutdown was terrible. i did not support that. congressman condit. cotton -- congressman did. when we reopened the government, i was part of the group that rocard that. we got the government back open. i have to give a lot of credit to susan collins. she called and said i have ideas.
we you come to my office and talk about it? that was the beginning and we got the government open. one thing that people in washington know about me is i always try to work in a bipartisan way. that is leadership to me. that is getting things done for arkansas. it is something that you know about me. it is my trademark, if you will. the good news is i continue to work with republicans and i always will. >> mark pryor says he votes in a bipartisan way. i guess that is true if you consider voting for barack 93% of the time. he has voted for $1 trillion of new get every single year. innding up to big spenders washington is where i said i stood up to my party. earlier this year, we passed a spending bill that broke through spending caps nine months old. how did they pay it? obamar pryor and barack
and too many republicans trying to balance budgets on the back of veterans. they extended spending caps out nine years. big spenders in congress can't have some spending discipline for nine months. i don't think they can do it nine years out. keeping with his record of rubberstamping the obama agenda. you say that you vote against your party. which of the 93% of your post that you passed for barack obama's agenda did you regret? >> the question is when did you vote against the party line and white? >> i mentioned a few times and why and that is because i represent you. i am not there to oppose or support a president. i am there to represent you and i take that seriously. the people who watch the senate every your have ranked me, and this is folks that know the senate and know how we vote, not
all the rhetoric and spin you hear from the congressman here, they rank me every year as one of the most independent senators in washington. i am independent because i listen to you. >> last rebuttal for you. when have you voted against wife? >> i did not hear many instances of senator pryor voting against barack obama and he only does it when barack obama gives him permission. if you want to go back to the voted for every spending bill to keep the government open, to reopening the government, and to open it. it is senator pryor who kept voting against arkansas. you did not have to pay a tax you could not afford. i guess senator pryor thinks that congressmen and senators have special perks, but you should have to follow obamacare and was will to shut down the government to do it. according to the social security administration, the
trust fund will be depleted between 2033 and 2041. there are many proposals out there to avoid this and we have seen both of your campaigns highlight the unpopular ones. this problem is certainly unavoidable without congressional action. which proposals would you support to strengthen the financial health of social security, and why? >> my mom and dad are on social security and medicare. sorry, mom, you probably did not want me to reveal that. i would not do anything to hurt them or the arkansas seniors that depend on social security and medicare. that is why i voted for no changes for anyone approaching retirement. senator pryor and barack obama cannot say the same. they robbed $700 million from medicare to pay for obama. if they did it once, they would be willing to do it again. senator pryor is resorting to
typical washington hypocrisy. he is trying to scare seniors and hang onto power. a few years ago, he said he save social security if he raised retirement age for teenagers today to 69. now he is saying he did not say that. the most important thing we can do to promote social security solvency is get people back to work and paying into the system, not taking out. that is not happening in the economy. >> i would caution the audience to beware about what congressman cotton says in a debate of social security. when he was running for the house, he was asked a similar question and said he would never do anything to harm people on social security today. guess what? it took him a grand total of five months after that election, five months, and he got the call from his billionaire backers. they told him to vote certain ways. when the aarp look at his voting
record, they said his voting record would result in immediate benefit cuts. that means benefit cuts to seniors today. there are two lessons. you cannot trust what tom cotton says in a debate. you cannot trust tom cotton on social security. i will remind you the question is specifically which proposals would you support to strengthen the financial health of social security? once again isor trying to confuse the matter because he wants to run from his record on cuts to medicare. $700 million in cuts of seniors benefiting from medicare today. i met a senior who said he had received his cancellation letter. that it was a result of senator pryor breaking his promises. if he did it once, he will do it again. we have to get people back to work.
grow our economy, get more money in the social security trust fund. now, not save it right make the cuts that senator pryor did when he voted for obama care. >> i want to answer the question but i have to respond to the scurrilous charge about $700 billion cuts to medicare. let me tell you. what i did is cut waste and overpayment to insurance companies in the medicare advantage program. more people on medicare advantage than there have ever been. it has been hurt the program at all. i saved $700 billion and i extended the lives of medicare by 13 years. congressman cotton has taken the same budget votes where he takes and he givesion huge tax breaks to billionaires, the ones underwriting his campaign. that is the difference. >> our next question comes from diana davis. ands proud americans
arkansans, we don't like to think these two issues go together, but sadly they do. what percentage of our military personnel are eligible to receive food stamps? how can we do better for our men and women who serve? >> it is true there is a surprisingly high percentage of our enlisted men and women, mostly the very lowest rank with families, that also receive food stamps. it is just the way it is. , pay our men and women in uniform or a, and that is a start, but it underscores a problem that congressman cotton has. he continues to dance around the farm bill. he voted against the farm bill. his reason for that is he calls it a foodstamp bill. his analysis of that has been wholly debunked by anyone is look at it, but nonetheless when he voted against the farm
bill, he was the only one in arkansas to do it and he voted against arkansas's largest industry. agriculture is 25% to the state's economy. devoted against it and he voted against 25% of the people in this state by doing it. >> one soldier is too many on food stamps. when i was a platoon leader at arlington national cemetery, i had to help my soldiers. i had to help them in personal finances, learn how to make a budget. i did that with my staff sergeants and platoon sergeants. we worked together to help our privates make sure they could meet ends meet. i and my soldiers were the beneficiaries of your generosity , taxpayers that give us the best training, weapons, and equipment. i met a mom in jefferson county. her son had died in the last decade of war. she has a son in active duty. she came up to me and urged me to make sure that he has the very best training and equipment and weapons so he will not die.
senator pryor and barack obama have gutted our military by $1 trillion. that means we are putting lies on the line overseas and we are putting our future at risk as well by cannibalizing our military forces, training, maintenance, and procurement. it is bad for america and that for arkansas. >> it is interesting to hear congressman cotton talk about this because when you look at his voting record when it comes to the middle class, guess what? he is actually voted to raise taxes on middle-class families by up to $3000 a year. he voted to raise taxes on middle-class families. that is going to work even more of a burden on our men and women in uniform. i on the other hand have a very strong record for standing up for the men and women in uniform and veterans. i think our men and women in uniform would wonder why senator pryor voted for the
trillion dollar military cuts. it is part of the reason we lost our air wing at the 188. senator pryor talked about the middle class and i guess that is his $200,000 a year income earners in arkansas. i think about the real middle-class where the wages have fallen by 5%. radical cuts to the military and high taxes and excessive regulations, they are struggling to get by. the question is from angela taylor. >> veterans in arkansas say they are enduring wait times that are too long in fayetteville and little rock. can the v.a. system be rehabilitated? inwe need massive reforms rva system. earlier this year, veterans were literally dying waiting for appointments. i was one of the first congressman to insist on reform and the v.a.
i was insistent that we give veterans choices so they did not have to wait too long or drive too far. they can use local caregivers in the private sector, just like private citizens. i demanded early that the president hold eric shinseki accountable and call for his resignation. wait until the last day for eric shinseki resigned to say so. he only supports barack obama. cannot trustply mark pryor to hold the president accountable, whether it is the v.a. or any other government agency. >> the answer to your question is yes. we can reform the v.a. that me tell you something. i have marching orders from the people of arkansas. what they tell me is that when it comes to honoring the commitments we made to our veterans, that is nonnegotiable.
that is what i will do. the first bill i ever passed in the senate, the first year i was there, dealt with men and women in uniform. so far i have had to 13 pieces of legislation to help our veterans and to help our military personnel. i put that record up against anybody. as soon as i heard about the terrible scandal out in arizona, i picked up the phone and set up meetings with the little rock fee eight and the fayetteville v.a. i wanted to make sure those same things were not happening here. congressman cotton seems to think that the hard work is done when the press conference is over. the hard work is just beginning. does not doryor much hard work in the senate. that is what veterans did while overseas. my dad was an infantry man in vietnam. he walked point for the fourth
infantry division. i think about him when veterans get their care from the v.a. and i will alwasys hold the v.a. accountable when they do not get their care. unlike senator pryor, who voted for barack obama's budget which helped pay for the spending increases by giving unilateral cuts to veteran's pensions. >> last question i am told. mr. inman, you get to ask the last question. this is for congressman cotton, is at right? >> that is correct. >> i apologize. it is for senator pryor. >> there have been several claims in the advertising made about your opponent's positions on changes to medicare and there have been claims made about your positions on changes to medicare. would youfically change about the current system, if anything? medicare,ain with there have been these charges
and they are just not true. the life ofxtend medicare by 13 years. that is all the savings, the overpayments we were making in the medicare advantage program and also some of the fraud that was going on. we took all those savings and we added, extended the life of medicare by 13 years. my opponent has voted for the very same 700 billion that he wants to criticize me for. he has voted for that same 700 billion except what he does is turns around and gives the billionaires who underwrite his campaign a massive tax breaks. i don't think that is good for our seniors. we have well over 500,000 seniors in arkansas who rely on medicare. they paid into it all their lives and they need to be there for them when the retire. the answer to your question is i will make no changes to the current system for current retirees and anyone approaching
retirement. mark pryor cannot make that claim because he robbed $700 billion from medicare to pay for obama care. he calls it fraud or waste. warren calledin it his health insurance. obama promised that if you like your plan, you could keep it. they did not keep that promise. now 4000 seniors are losing their medicare advantage plan. senator pryor likes government-run health care. he wants more people to lose their plan, whether it is private plans and you have a choice or a plan at walmart for part-time workers or if you have a planet your small business. that does not mean that senator pryor should not have kept his promise that if you like your plan, you can keep your plan. he did not keep that promise when he voted for 700 billion dollars in medicare cuts. >> we are out of time for rebuttal so we will go straight to closing.
mr. cotton, you get to close first. >> i was blessed to grow up on a farm in arkansas. my wife and i are excited to be expecting our first baby. we want our baby to have the same opportunities i did on that farm and i want your family to have those opportunities for a better life. barack obama's policies are making that harder. those policies are on the ballot, every single one of them. in arkansas, those policies are called mark pryor. a vote for mark pryor is a vote for barack obama. obama's faileded policies and cast the deciding vote for obama care, hurting workers in driving up because cost of health insurance. mark pryor has voted for every penny for $6 trillion in new debt over the last six years, even as he cut $1 trillion from our military will be islamic state is rampaging across the middle east, beheading americans. stamppryor is a rubber
for barack obama's policy of indecision. i think there is a better way. get the economy moving. get people back to work. repeal obama care. quist you and from our kids. rebuild our military. that is the choice that you face in this election. if you are satisfied with barack obama, that is your guy. your vote for mark pryor will be a vote for barack obama. if you are ready for a new direction and change that helps working arkansans, i would appreciate your vote. >> thank you. what you heard tonight is that he is running against one man, but i am running for 3 million arkansans. i want to thank the audience tonight. i want to thank everyone who is watching on television. i want to thank the three tv stations and the panelists. you have done a great job. you all know me. you know that i am about hard work.
i don't hold a lot of press conferences. your after your, they rank me as one of the most independent senators in washington. i am proud of that because i represent you. i know that arkansans are stubbornly independent. when it comes to issues, we are very different. he voted to cut student loans. he voted to make big cuts in arkansas children's hospital. he voted to make cuts in social security and medicare. he voted against the cal bill. he also voted against the release. it helps arkansans. it else people in mayflower and other communities that have gone through disaster. we have a clear choice here. who listens to whom? i listen to you. congressman cotton listens to his mega donors that are underwriting his campaign.
if you talk to him anytime in the next six years, he is going to hit the mute button because he listens to them. thank you very much. early voting is october 20. i appreciate your vote. -- thatinclude concludes tonight's debate. >> you will find some of the tv ads running in the race. >> i am mark pryor and i approve this message. something got to do to break this cycle of violence. congressman cotton voted against protecting women and children from domestic violence. he was the only