Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fast paced AARP forum focuses on senior’s issues

Jay Warren, Sen. Edwards, Del. Nutter

Del. Nutter sidestepped which Republican he would support for President. Pressed by Jay Warren he said he could “live” with Gov. Mitt Romney. Sen. Edwards’ immediate response was “as a Democrat I support the President.”

Moderator Jay Warren channel 10 news anchor opened the AARP forum saying that it would “cover issues that usually don’t get covered.” AARP is nonprofit, nonpartisan and does not endorse or contribute to campaigns. The debate was held at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood Wednesday.

Democrat Senator John Edwards is defending his seat in the 21st district that includes Roanoke City. Republican challenger Delegate Dave Nutter of Christiansburg and other Republican challengers throughout the state are jockeying for control of the Senate.

On the topic of helping seniors remain in their homes as they age Nutter said, “there are opportunities for us to provide grants to seniors to help them stay in their homes and lower costs of institutionalized care.” The process would take a revamp of the whole system.

Edwards voted for Virginia’s long-term care partnership program. With the purchase of a partnership policy, a consumer can become eligible for Medicaid coverage after using the insurance benefits without having to exhaust his or her own assets to qualify for such coverage. “This protects senior – it gives them peace of mind,” said Edwards.

With the shifting of the age demographic Edwards took Nutter and Republicans to task for cutting Medicaid when he said there is a need to expand it. “If we continue to cut Medicaid it hurts nursing homes and it hurts seniors,” said Edwards. Doctors would also stop taking lowered payments.

Edwards said the governor would like to turn the Virginia Retirement System into a defined contribution plan subject to the ups and downs of the stock market.

Nutter said in the House they had legislation to set up a voluntary defined contribution plan but he voted against it. Edwards called the governor’s program a “breach of trust.”

When it came to increasing jobs Edwards said that investing in education was the way to create jobs. He blamed the house for cutting funds from the Virginia Extension Program – “it is a job creating institution … you don’t create jobs by cutting, cutting, cutting,” he said.

Nutter said “jobs are created by the private sector … we have to live within our means.” Nutter advocated for certificates and associates degrees in needed skills that would prepare students for work right out of school.

Rather then cut 6% more from agencies as the governor has asked, each candidate was quizzed on tax increases to prevent more drastic cuts.

Edwards called for prioritizing education and healthcare in the budget. He admonished depletion of the general operating fund to shore up the transportation trust fund. The general fund finances education and healthcare. “That’s wrong we shouldn’t be doing that,” he said.

Both said they would not shift secondary road maintenance to localities.

“These are challenging times … government has to live in the confines of its budget – I’m not supporting anymore tax increases,” said Nutter. He advocated for reallocating resources to critical areas.

On transportation Edwards said he’d like to see a 5% tax on gasoline at the wholesale level. Nutter was not specific but said, “there are some meaningful things we’re going to do … we’re not going to have fundamental solutions to transportation.”

On healthcare Edwards voted to mandate healthcare for autism while Nutter voted against it.

Edwards advocated for Pre-K education for all children saying; “it has been proven that these children do better in life.” Nutter voted against Pre-K because “schools don’t have the capacity for it.” He wants to see more parent responsibility.

Nutter would cut regulations as a part of a plan to create new jobs. He was hard pressed to answer Warren’s question on what specific regulation he would cut. He did point to one regulation on a bill mandating nursing home generators that he voted against.

Nutter explained how raising the gas tax would hurt consumers as the expense for moving goods would be passed down to them.

Nutter’s mailings paid for by the Republican Party of Virginia targets Edwards for advocating raising the gas tax to fund road maintenance..

Edwards wanted to know “what about taking money from education to pay for transportation – that’s what my opponent wants to do – that’s what the governor wants to do.” Edwards called it “stealing” from public education to fix potholes.

On payday lending Edwards said he has tried to get a 36% cap on car title loans to close that loophole but the house voted against it. Nutter blamed Senate Majority leader Dick Saslaw and the contributions he receives from payday lenders. Saslaw pushed passage of the bill allowing car title loans across state lines in the 2011 session.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2011, Elections, Politics, State Politics

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Comments (1)

Jack Mcguire

October 13th, 2011 at 8:29 AM    

Ya know anyone that would advocate a tax increase right now, when people are losing their homes and can’t find jobs is out of touch with the average person. In addition we cannot expand senior and educational programs when we have no money to even keep existing programs going. What planet is Edwards on?

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