August 10, 2006

Laffey-Chafee I: Taxes and Spending

Carroll Andrew Morse

Senator Lincoln Chafee and Mayor Steve Laffey, the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, debated on todays Arlene Violet Show on WHJJ-AM radio. Here are the notes I jotted down as they were debating...

Arlene Violet asks about extending expiring tax-cuts.
Senator Lincoln Chafee laments that we have failed to cut spending, yet we are cutting taxes. The biggest expense of all is this war in Iraq, which costs a billion dollars a week. We cant cut taxes during a war.
Mayor Steve Laffey says that revenues have increased 12-14% in the three years following the tax cuts. Receipts are up relative to CBO estimates. Tax-cuts that encourage growth should be made permanent.

Violet asks something about spending and earmarks.
Laffey says spending can be brought under control by cutting pork, corporate welfare, and non-military discretionary spending.
Chafee is sympathetic to earmark reform. Appropriators in Congress have too much power. But other areas of the budget, like farm subsidies, dwarf whats spent on earmarks.

Violet: Medicare is in worse shape than social security. What do we do?
Chafee says a demographic tidal wave is about to hit entitlements. We need people (like me, I assume the Senator means) who can work together to solve this.
Laffey basically agrees (I assume with himself in the role of me).

Violet asks about the responsibility of a Senator with respect to pork, and asks Laffey to name 3 projects in Rhode Island that are pork.
Laffey says a Senator should support his state, but through the normal appropriations process. The transportation bill brought plenty to RI, without counting the earmarks, and many of the recent Congressional scandals show how earmarking has become a magnet for corruption. Names the Westerly animal shelter as an example of pork
Chafee again cites the $1 billion dollars he has brought to Rhode Island because of his work on the Environment and Public Works committee. Mentions he obtained part of the money to take down the Jamestown bridge.

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I will say first off that I have and will always be a supporter of Senator Chafee's brand of moderate Republican values. That said, I felt that the radio debate format would greatly benefit Laffey. Was I ever wrong?!?!

Senator Chafee was brilliant. Knowledgeable, forceful, and so genuine. In contrast, I found Laffey arrogant, haughty, and, most surprisingly, uninformed.

What impressed me the most was how well the debates demonstrated the candidate's respective styles. Laffey, in the words of Arlene, came across as a person who didn't play nice in the sandbox. Chafee sounded like a statesman.

Posted by: cabot lodge at August 10, 2006 9:06 PM

cabot lodge:

Its good at least to see you admit you were wrong.

Your analysis of the debate suffers from a disease called severe bias.

Its so unfairly characterizes the actual debate that no rational person who heard the debate would ever again listen to or comment upon anything you say.

"Homines libenter quod volunt credunt" is obviously true of you and your kind.

Sol Venturi

Posted by: Sol Venturi at August 10, 2006 10:00 PM

Chafee made an excellent point about the feather in Laffey's cap that he always touts - his firing of the crossing guards. Laffey always goes out of his way to talk about how much money that saved, but Chafee brought up that it was only 1/4 of 1 percent of the total Cranston budget. That, and the fact that they were all older women humanizes the story a bit.

It seems pretty similar to their stances on how to cut spending. Laffey wants to cut earmarks and 200 million dollar bridges, which will get the headlines. Chafee goes after the big spending legislation like the farm bill and the Medicare bill that would save the country billions upon billions of dollars.

Laffey goes for the flash, Chafee goes for the substance. A definite win for Chafee tonight, especially because Laffey (and the vast majority of the posters here) were convinced he was going to blow Chafee out of the water.

I can't wait for the next one, and great job to the moderators here on breaking down a pretty exciting debate.

Posted by: Hayden at August 10, 2006 10:27 PM

You completely missed the point about the crossing guards, as apparently did Sen. Chafee. I actually thought that was the point that showed to average folks why he just doesn't get it. It was NEVER about the amount of money that was saved, or the monetary savings relative to the overall budget of Cranston. It was about what the crossing guards REPRESENTED -- a totally corrupt system that entirely benefited well-connected insiders, and screwed the public that was paying the bill.

Mayor Laffey went against the grain, challenged the status quo because it was wrong, worked with a city council dominated by Democrats ("played in the sandbox" or whatever sad analogy you'd employ), and most importantly, WON for the people of Cranston. The public "gets it." Laffey is for them, not for the insiders. I'm afraid people such as yourself, who cannot see the forest from the trees, never will.

Posted by: Will at August 10, 2006 10:38 PM

Will -

That's all well and good that the crossing guards were a moral victory for Laffey. However, I'm more concerned about the bottom line and how much money is saved than how many messages are sent. After all of the legal fees the city incurred, the net savings was probably minimal at best.

I don't care about the "shot across the bow" that Laffey talks about, I want someone in the Senate who's going to cut spending and save me the most money. That person is Linc Chafee.

Posted by: Hayden at August 10, 2006 10:48 PM

The legal fees which were incurred by the city were infinitesimal when compared with the amount of money saved as a result. Unlike former Mayor Chafee, Laffey didn't roll over and play dead and go along to get along with the municipal unions. Instead, he did what he believed was right for the citizens of Cranston, and due to his perserverance, won on there behalf.

As for cutting any spending, you are obviously quite ignorant of Senator Chafee's record when it comes to spending. Name me ANY instance in the last six years where Chafee has looked to cut ANY spending. He's just about the biggest porker that there is -- and being in the same league as Teddy Kennedy and Robert Byrd, that's really saying something. He brags openly about bringing home the bacon, but doesn't seem to realize that who exactly is paying for it. I'll let the public record speak for itself in that regard, because it's pathetic.

Posted by: Will at August 11, 2006 12:28 AM

Senator Chafee doesn't get the idea that EVERY tax dollar is important.

Posted by: Leon Berg at August 11, 2006 8:36 AM

Someone earlier mentioned that Chafee goes against the big spending legislation. Well both the farm bill and Medicare bill passed and I can't think of a single example when Chafee has been able to save taxpayers money.

He is bragging about earmarking a billion dollars so excuse me when I don't believe Chafee is going after wasteful spending.

Posted by: Sentinel at August 11, 2006 4:18 PM

That is why the Concord Coalition is such a farce. They are against tax cuts in order to PRESERVE SPENDING! Chafee fits right in, SPEND, SPEND, SPEND...TAX, TAX, TAX!

Posted by: roadrunner at August 11, 2006 4:56 PM

Why doesn't Mayor Laffey know his own position on abortion. During the debate he's for federally funded abortions. Then in interviews immediately afterwards he remains in favor of having the govt. foot the bill for abortions.

Hours later an aide calls to say he misspoke. Talk about inconsistent. Did a new poll come out?

Posted by: cabot lodge at August 11, 2006 10:10 PM

You know the question was muddled. You know she isn't the easiest person to understand.

[Henry] Cabot Lodge ... Kennedy appointed Lodge to the position of Ambassador to South Vietnam, which he held from 1963 to 1964. During that time, Lodge spearheaded a coup to overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem, President of the Republic of Vietnam, in a scheme code-named Operation Bravo Two. Oh, and he also oversaw our capitulation to North Vietnam communists in 1975. Great namesake!

Lodge's father was also a Senator. He was the original "Rockefeller Republican," before they were even called that. Gee, no wonder why you work for Chafee!

Posted by: Will at August 12, 2006 1:26 AM

Will, as in William Bonin, "The Freeway Killer," who terrorized Southern California, no wonder you work for Laffey.

Great argument pal!

Posted by: cabot lodge at August 13, 2006 12:39 PM

cabot lodge:

Who were you last week, and the week before, and the week before that.

You can be twenty different people on the blog but you only get one vote in September.

J Mahn

Posted by: Joe Mahn at August 13, 2006 2:28 PM

You and Will are truly championship debaters. Were you in charge of Steve-o's debate prep? Did you help to cook him down with a Seconal cocktail?

Posted by: cabot lodge at August 13, 2006 8:40 PM


Debate prep? Laffey doesn't have to do debate prep.

From what I can tell Laffey is also a believer in the golden rule, i.e., do unto others as you whould have them do unto you.

Chafee, on the other hand, will reap what he has sown.

You? Well I guess we all know what you resort to when you lose an argument. Look in the mirror tomorrow morning and say out loud, "I am a coward."

J Mahn

PS. If I ran this show I would slap you with a violation of the "unnecessary invective" rule. You're like a teacher out of work, no class.

Posted by: Joe Mahn at August 14, 2006 11:04 PM