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Republican Candidates Take Their Last Jabs In Televised Debate

by Christine Stuart | Aug 10, 2014 11:01am
(15) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2014, State Budget, Taxes, Transportation, New Haven

Christine Stuart photo

WTNH debate with Tom Foley and John McKinney. The debate was moderated by Mark Davis and Susan Haigh

Would he have supported a ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines? That was one of the questions Republican Tom Foley wouldn’t definitively answer during the last televised debate before the Republican gubernatorial primary against Sen. John McKinney.

McKinney, who represents Newtown in the state Senate, voted in favor of the legislation which cost him the endorsement of Second Amendment groups. On Sunday morning he defended his vote during a WTNH debate and questioned Foley about what he would have supported after Foley accused him of endorsing restrictions that infringe on the rights of law abiding gun owners.

“One of the things that is frustrating is the fact that Tom you talked about how the bill would have been different and the restrictions went too far, but you still won’t say whether you would support a ban on assault weapons or [if] you would support a ban on large capacity magazines,” McKinney said. “. . . I know we may disagree and I respect those disagreements, but I think we need to be specific about the answers we give people.”

Foley replied: “Those restrictions have already been made and I recognize they’re unlikely to be changed unless the legislature takes some action.”

He said he’s been very clear that this bill failed to address the root cause of what happened in Newtown and would not prevent another Newtown from happening. He said the legislature failed to fill in the institutional support needed for families with children with serious mental health issues.

“Why you as a legislator for 15 years couldn’t help this governor figure that out is beyond me,” Foley said.

McKinney countered that the legislation did make positive changes toward helping people with mental health issues. He said there’s still debate about whether people with mental health issues should be in the community or in an institutional setting and the system can’t afford to spend overwhelming amounts of money on both.

Taxes and Spending

Christine Stuart photo

John McKinney after the debate

McKinney said he has a plan to cut $1.4 billion in spending and end of the income tax for about 1 million residents making less than $75,000 a year. It will cost $750 million to cut taxes for those making less than $75,000 per year.

“We know we can do it. We reduce spending $1.4 billion a year the first year, hold that tight in the second year, you’ve got almost $450 million towards the $750 million tax cut,” McKinney said.

Foley said he would tackle the sales tax first. He would hold spending flat in the first year and cut the sales tax by a half percent in the second year from 6.35 to 5.85 percent and “that puts money in everybody’s pocket.” The proposal would cost about $300 million in revenues.

Foley argued McKinney’s proposal is very narrow because it would help some people, but not everyone.

He also argued that in order for McKinney to reduce taxes for the middle class he would have “to raise somebody else’s taxes in order to provide that tax relief.”

“That’s kind of the unanswered question, whose taxes are going to be raised?” Foley asked.

McKinney said Foley’s tax proposal would put $300 million back in the economy, while his proposal would put $750 million back into the economy.

“It’s hard to argue that having $300 million back in the economy is better than $750 million,” McKinney said.

He said those who make less than $75,000 a year comprise about 50 percent of the taxpayers in the state and would cover retirees, which would allow them to continue to live in the state.

Transportation

Foley capitalized on a question about road congestion and construction to point out that McKinney voted in 2005 to increase the gross receipts tax in order to boost the amount of money in the special transportation fund by about $140 million year.

“You’ve had some kind of epiphany here in the last few weeks and all of a sudden you’re a fiscal conservative,” Foley told McKinney. “When I’ve been talking about these kinds of changes needed for Connecticut’s government for over four years.”

Christine Stuart photo

Tom Foley after the debate

McKinney whipped out a piece of paper that showed every budget he’s voted on for the past 16 years as a state lawmaker.

McKinney and Foley were both able to agree that he had voted for an increase in the gross receipts tax, which is a percentage of the wholesale price of gas, and a cigarette tax increase.

He said the bill containing the 50 cent cigarette tax increase also created the film tax credit program. He said in Foley’s hometown of Greenwich, Blue Sky Studios has brought in hundreds of jobs because of those tax credits. There’s also NBC Sports and ESPN, two companies benefiting from the film tax credit program.

“Are you telling me that you would vote against the film tax credit because you wouldn’t want to increase the cost of cigarettes?” McKinney said.

“No,” Foley said.

“Well that’s the choice you had, Tom,” McKinney said.

“You’re talking like a career politician,” Foley replied.

“I’m talking about leadership,” McKinney said in the back and forth exchange.

Foley tried to steer the conversation back to the gross receipts tax and the special transportation fund. In 2005 the legislature passed and former Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed a bill that set aside $1.3 billion to upgrade the state’s transportation infrastructure, including its railroads.

McKinney said that increase in the gross receipts tax helped purchase the new M-8 rail cars for the New Haven line and make improvements to the New Haven Rail Yard.

“Tom you have to pay for things,” McKinney said. “You don’t want to answer a single question. You want to be devoid of specifics.”

Foley said McKinney was simply defending raising taxes.

Following the debate, Foley said he didn’t say whether he would vote for it or against the transportation bill. He was simply citing McKinney’s vote to increase taxes.

“I support investment in transportation infrastructure,” Foley said. “I don’t support the aspects of that bill, which was raising the gross receipts tax, going into the general fund, and promising payments back into the special transportation fund that were never honored.”

But how would you pay for improvements to transportation infrastructure?

“There are a lot of other ways to preserve the special transportation fund without that bill,” Foley said. “They should have left the funds in the special transportation fund.”

How would you pay for it?

“Savings in other aspects of the state government,” Foley said.

Tax Credits

Foley criticized McKinney’s vote in October 2011 for a bipartisan jobs bill that created Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s “First Five” program. The program allows the state to create large tax credit programs for companies that agree to create more than 200 jobs over a specified period of time.

“The state’s anti-business so they have to bribe employers to stay here,” Foley said.

He said the state gave nearly $300 million to Jackson Labs for 300 jobs.

McKinney pointed out that he voted against the Jackson Labs bill, which was separate from the October 2011 jobs bill. And as far as the “First Five” is concerned there was never any vote to give money to specific companies, just legislation authorizing the administration to negotiate the deals.

When the program was first created it was thought the governor would use it to bring out-of-state companies to Connecticut, but very few of those deals have been struck. Most were given to companies like Cigna and Alexion, which were already here in the state.

McKinney pointed out that Connecticut government has given tax credits to get big companies for years and some deals have been more successful than others.

McKinney said he did vote for a bill this year that would allow United Technologies Corporation to use about $400 million in stranded tax credits they’ve earned over the years. McKinney suggested that approach should be used for other companies as well.

Foley was critical of the UTC deal.

“John is using career politician talk. He’s saying tax credits are okay. Tax credits are spending,” Foley said.

McKinney said a tax credit is not taxing something. He said that’s not spending. “That’s letting people keep their own money,” he added.

Foley countered “it’s spending money.”

“You’re a good Democrat if you believe that,” McKinney replied.

After The Debate

McKinney came out with a hard-hitting ad late this week that shows a clip from Foley’s press conference in Sprague where he accused the First Selectwoman Cathy Osten of failing.

“You have failed because you lost these jobs,” Foley says to the first selectwoman of Sprague and a group of mill workers after the global investment firm that owns Fusion Paperboard decided to close the business, leaving 140 people out of work.

“That’s Tom Foley, blaming workers for the Sprague paper mill closing,” the narrator says in the ad.

Foley accused McKinney of violating Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

He said when he was in Sprague he was supporting the workers. He was being critical of the government’s handling of the situation.

As far as the election is concerned, Foley still feels good going into Tuesday.

“I have very loyal support. We’re not seeing that what he’s doing is eroding our support at all,” Foley said. “We feel very comfortable about the outcome on Tuesday.”

McKinney defended the ad. He said it wasn’t his words he was using, but the reaction to the press conference by editorial boards who called the performance a disgrace.

“Everyone criticized his performance in Sprague and I think it’s fair for me. I know it’s fair for me to say to Republicans this is what the world of Connecticut thought of his performance in Sprague,” McKinney said. “I wasn’t speaking ill of him. I was telling Republicans what he did.”

McKinney said what Foley did was very divisive and “people of the state need not somebody whose going to divide us, but someone whose going to bring us together.”

McKinney’s campaign, which had to move its party Tuesday night to a larger location, seems to have the momentum coming into the last few days before the Aug. 12 primary.

Click here to watch the hour long debate on WTNH.

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(15) Comments

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 10, 2014  12:29pm

Foley should have fired back at McKinney and asked him how making hunters pay more and jump through hoops has made the state any safer? He could have said reasonable people can disagree on so called assault weapons but how does making life miserable for the hunter or the single mom that just wants to protect her kids make sense and ask why McKinney hasnt pushed for some modifications to the bill now that we have seen how it played out?

Foley nailed him with this below because even anti gun people I know agree with this sentiment and even I have recently stated on this site that nothing major has been done on mental health and McKinney apparently agrees. .....“bill failed to address the root cause of what happened in Newtown and would not prevent another Newtown from happening”

McKinney is toast and even if Foley loses this time McKinney will never be Governor of this state.

posted by: Bethy | August 10, 2014  7:08pm

Bethy

this was a horrible debate. i thought it would make sense. it’s very clear. neither candidate is out for the best interest of the middle class, working class, working poor, elderly, disabled or veterans. it’s also very clear what both candidates specialize in. Foley specializes in getting wealthy off of closing huge companies, destroying the lives of working families and outsourcing their jobs. Meanwhile, McKinney specializes in cutting programs that benefit the working poor, elderly and poor. It’s so sad how Mckinney mentioned that his children attended public schools…of course they benefited from the public schools and are done…now that it’s no use to him, he has no interest to invest for those that need the same service as his children..I get it, it’s okay when he needs the services…typical…Like i’ve been saying for these last 4 years, I will continue to support Dan Malloy and Nancy Wyman. Any working class tax paying citizen(democrat or republican) should know by now that Dan and Nancy should be re-elected. Especially after that poor debate…..peace and blessings

posted by: JH_1 | August 10, 2014  7:26pm

Gun owners and 2A supporters will be making a huge mistake if they abandon McKinney should he win the primary. 

It’s become clear to me over the past couple months that Foley has little chance of winning in November.  Malloy will eat him alive.  In my opinion, if gun owners show up on election night and vote, McKinney has a much better chance of defeating Malloy. 

The truth is, I don’t like some of what was in SB 1160, but I do believe it could have been much worse had McKinney not been involved. 

Don’t forget, the democrats didn’t need McKinney or Cafero to pass anything.  They had the votes.  As I recall, the only way the Democratic leadership would let McKinney and Cafero get involved was if they first agreed to ban semi auto rifles and high capacity mags.  They had to agree to that before they could be included.  Those were going to happen regardless.

I read the Dem’s original proposal.  Every word of it.  It was a lot worse than what was eventually passed. 

Even if Foley were to win in November, he alone cannot change the gun laws.  As I said before, voters have to turn over the CGA or at a minimum create a little more balance.  It’s going to take a few election cycles.

And I genuinely believe that if Malloy wins again, more restrictions will eventually be passed.  Even though I hate the fact that I can no longer buy semi auto rifles or high capacity mags, I’d rather vote for McKinney and preserve what we do have left rather than not vote at all in November, give Malloy an easy victory and watch even more of my rights get taken away.

First, stop the bleeding by electing a republican governor, then like Dr. HST has said, slowly chip away at parts of the bill over time by turning over the CGA.

I know a lot of gun owners will disagree with me, but this was just my 2 cents.  I’m just being realistic.

posted by: shinningstars122 | August 10, 2014  10:51pm

shinningstars122

I still have to watch the full debate but from reading the beginning of the gun comments is getting tired…real tired.

It is simply not the paramount issue of the campaign and Foley knows it.

It is the economy stupid.

Foley is spreading crumbs on what he might due but honestly he is not committing to anything.

McKinney is going out on limb by coming up with $750 million in tax cuts?

Really?

Foley cuddled up with the CCDL at the state house in the spring but their is NO WAY he will get in bed with them.

Political suicide pure and simple.

McKinney has already created enough dents that even hard core conservatives are on the ropes about Foley.

Malloy, as well as most progressives like myself, love watching these GOP self destructive primaries.

I mean how do you think the Teaparty got in?

Now we see that they can not govern for a hill of beans.

I have to agree with @JH-1 Foley can not beat Malloy.

So enjoy the next 48 conservatives…time to hit the panic button.

Lets not even talk about the LT race…:))))

posted by: art vandelay | August 10, 2014  11:56pm

art vandelay

@Bethy,
You don’t get it because you’ve been drinking the Democrat Kool-Aid way too long.  The Democrats have done NOTHING to improve the plight of the working poor, elderly, or poor.  Step back and take a real good look.  The Democrats have been in control of the legislature for the past 50 years in this state.
OK Republicans did regain power for two short years during the Reagan Administration. Our cities are in worse shape than ever. Minority unemployment is at its highest, and every program the Democrats have passed has done nothing to improve their plight.  The only way to make this state prosper is to eliminate the income tax, cut state spending to the bare bones, and entice corporations to return which equals jobs.  We need to make education affordable for anyone seeking higher education and stop raising tuition on the average of 7% per year.  If we have to abolish the defined benefit package of state workers so be it.  These steps must be taken in order to get this state back on track.  I may sound cold and cruel, but we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing and what the Democrats & Working Party propose.  It has not worked and never will.  No society in the history of the world tax and spent their way into prosperity.  Malloy or any Democrat for that matter holds a magic wand to make that happen, not even OBAMA!  Give the conservatives a true shot in turning this economy around.  It just might work!  What your party has done has not.

posted by: GBear423 | August 11, 2014  7:19am

GBear423

ah bigjoe, esprit de l’escalier.  Foley is obviously not doing good prep work.  I think he does not view McKinney as a threat. It is not wise.
Though I would remind all there were debates between Foley and malloy, and uhh, umm well err, um well Malloy is umm er, not such a great uhh, um a good speaker on his feet either.  He has canned lines he repeats and is not fluid at all.  if Foley does his research and preps, he can easily handle Malloy and his double speak answers and speech impediments.
McKinney is a weak candidate, his ads are insulting and misleading. he absolutely broke the 11th commandment and is drawing attention to the Sprague presser when despit CT media it had gained no traction. God Bless Summer.

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 11, 2014  8:10am

JH, you mentioned you read every word of the Dems orginal proposal.

This is one of the reasons I cant vote for McKinney. He’s weak. What do I mean by that?

Rather than making veiled comments such as “I voted for this because I needed to do what is right for the people of Newtown that are in my district”, he should be walking around with copies of that proposal and attack the Dems, and show what could have been and how he successfully made it less harmful. He needs to go after them for their Bill of Rights bashing attempt but he doesnt and he wont. Why? Because he is weak, he is a politician and doesnt want to offend some of the psychos on the Dem side with a truthful aggressive approach.

If he had done that I could have been swayed, but I dont want someone who is more concerned about his cocktail hour relationships and how he might offend these people by telling the truth. That’s not a leader. If he really did a great thing to protect gun owners and this issue is hurting him now to the point where he wont win, then why wouldnt he be screaming the truth from the highest peaks in CT?

posted by: art vandelay | August 11, 2014  8:27am

art vandelay

@GBear423,
I’m no fan of Malloy but PLEASE do not satirize his speech dyslexia. It’s something he was born with, conquered to the best of his ability, and has done quite well.  Yes it’s perfectly correct to criticize his policies, character and politics but not something he has no personal control over.

posted by: art vandelay | August 11, 2014  8:42am

art vandelay

@BigJoeBig,
I’m sorry for you and others who are turning this election into a one issue campaign, GUNS!  It’s NOT about GUNS.  It’s about the ECONOMY!  This election is about the future of this state and the direction it’s headed in by the failed socialist Democrat progressive agenda.  It has to be stopped before the state hits rock bottom.  Some as I do believe it has.  Please don’t make this a one issue election.  I agree your Constitutional 2nd Amendment right was stepped on. It’s minor compared to the liberties and freedoms you’re relinquishing slowly to the progressive socialists. You need to see the whole picture and not just one issue.

posted by: JH_1 | August 11, 2014  9:00am

Joe - I don’t disagree with you.  The point I was making in my post is that if McKinney does happen to win the nomination, gun owners shouldn’t use SB 1160 as a reason to stay home during the general election or as a reason to vote for Visconti (should he get on the ballot).  Otherwise, you guarantee another 4 years of a Malloy administration.


Which is the lesser of two evils?  McKinney or Malloy?  If given only those choices, I’m picking McKinney.


To GBear’s point, if Foley does win the nomination, I really hope he is better prepared than what we’ve seen the past couple months.  He’ll need to do a better job in debating Malloy.

posted by: dano860 | August 11, 2014  9:08am

There are two distinct camps here, a politician and a businessman.
Foley believes that continuing with the political process will do nothing to resolve any of the bottom line issues facing Ct. He hasn’t come out and said it, that’s where he seems to be wishy washy. As someone who has an insight into what it takes to bring a small business to Ct. because of the hurdles presented by just dealing with State employees and agencies I can tell you that major changes in how the conduct business are way over due. A person I am very close to has daily interaction with many of these agencies and this person has said,“If the State was a business it would have failed years ago.” Getting simple questions answered takes months and these days a business can’t afford to wait that long. We have lost quite a few business opportunities due to the inaction of the State.
At this point the firearms issue is what it is and it won’t change until the legislature majority is changed.
McKinney is obviously a politician and his answer to the problems facing the State aren’t far from his counter parts, money will solve the problem, we need more of it to forestall any short term problem. This doesn’t take into account the long term that really needs to be addressed.
Something has to change! We are on the same road as long as we have politicians pretending to be business people.
As for the $75 M John wants to pull out of the ‘middle’ class, great, but tell us where you expect to make it up from. It won’t be savings from program reductions or handouts to the system gamers.
We need to become a much better business as a State.

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 11, 2014  10:17am

I’m definitely not a one issue voter. I want someone that will fight and the gun issue shows me that McKinney is not a fighter. He is a RINO and those people are weak. I would vote for him before Malloy though

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 11, 2014  10:32am

I’m going to comment on Malloys speech but not in the way you might think.

As much as I dislike the man, I have commented that I felt his leadership during that week of Sandy Hook was tremendous. However, I noticed one thing clearly at that time and other people that really paid attention did as well. He spoke eloquently and with passion and caring from the heart. He never stuttered. In a time of great stress beyond what any of us felt there were no “Uhhs and umms.” I think its because he didnt have to think about what he was saying but knew what he wanted to say because he knew what he felt. He had conviction.

I think he does the speech dyslexia thing because he is trying to watch his words too much. Why? Because what he is saying is not from the heart and he knows that he is mincing words so as to not let the truth be known. Watch him during the debates. There will be things that will come out of his mouth that you will know that he believes whether it be right or wrong and the speech thing will occur when his brain has to work extra hard because he doesnt believe, is playing fast and loose with the facts, or wants to spin.

posted by: GBear423 | August 11, 2014  10:45am

GBear423

@ Art, thanks for the info. The Gov has done very well with speaking to get elected. Kudos to his lifetime of managing the symptoms of dyslexia.

reality- The average voter is going to think he is overly concerned with political correctness when delivering his thoughts. Just is the case without an Art nearby to inform them.

And yes, his policies and ideology are awful, I was addressing debates though, and image is key.

posted by: Joebigjoe | August 11, 2014  2:08pm

I just saw this and since guns are a topic needed to point this out. I think this is at the core of why more and more Americans are becoming gun owners and buying guns and ammo they will probably never use, but are doing so just in case.

Todays news…

The White House web site says the following.

““The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms.”[1]”

Do you see the issue with that?

Here is the 2nd Amendment.

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of individuals to keep and bear arms.”

The issue is that the government does not GIVE us rights. This is that suttle thing that these brainwashers try to slip in to get people to worship at the altar of government.

The whole Bill of Rights has nothing at all to do with rights the government GIVES us. It’s the opposite. You would think our White House would know that? They do. They dont like it so if you want to play fast and loose with the Constitution then law abiding educated citizens are going to speak up and also act in their own lives to prepare for the signal that is being sent. With this administration when it comes to not only Obamas over reach but the direct lies of the CIA as well as spying on the Senate there is no fear. Very dangerous stuff that doesnt represent freedom.