Wednesday, Sept. 26 — They don’t agree on any of the issues and their sometimes-rambling responses were difficult to follow. The debate Tuesday night between Congressman Mike Rogers and challenger Lance Enderle was a predictable back-and-forth of conservative and liberal views on health care and budgets.
The two are fighting over the 8th U.S. Congressional District seat, which is comprised of both Livingston and Ingham counties and part of Oakland County.
At Cleary University in Howell, Rogers, the 12-year Republican congressman and his Democratic opponent, Enderle, a former public school teacher, squared off over national issues like health care reform, the federal deficit and campaign financing. Rogers ousted Enderle in 2010, 64 percent to 34 percent.
The crowd of about 80 people, mostly senior citizens, was split down the aisle depending on whom they favored. They clapped in support after every single response.
It’s hard to say whether Enderle struggles to sit still for long or he was simply going for a more populist approach: When answering questions, he rotated between sitting at his designated table and pacing in front of the audience. He would often address Rogers directly when answering questions, criticizing his political tenure, voting record and "scare tactics."
Rogers, meanwhile, remained seated for the duration of the hour-long debate as he took questions from the moderator. He responded to Enderle’s attacks as “arm flailing” and “finger pointing.”
Questions ranged from how the candidates would prevent gridlock in Congress to what they thought about Obamacare. Enderle refuses to call health care reform “Obamacare,” only referring to it as the Affordable Care Act. (Even the president has latched on to the term “Obamacare” on his campaign website.)
“What it will do for seniors is save about $695 between 2011 and 2012,” Enderle said. “It will also help the person on traditional Medicare save $5,000 between 2010 and 2022. We’re seeing a savings there through the Affordable Care Act on seniors.”
As the two responded to questions, it was difficult to pick out a clear answer amid Enderle’s finger pointing and Rogers’ talk of doomsday and disaster, specifically when addressing health care and deficit.
“This is about the most serious issue we’re going to face as a country,” Rogers said. “I hope we’re going to come together on this because if we don’t, and we’re still arguing about this 10 years from now, we are all in deep trouble. We are projecting, with the President’s budget, a trillion dollars in deficit every single year.”
An Enderle campaign press release about two hours after they finished called out Rogers for two more debates. Rogers said last night his schedule would determine whether he could attend.
But Tuesday night can be summed up like this: Rogers hates on Obamacare like it’s the new thing to do; he believes the deficit is an impending doom thanks to Obama; and that bipartisanship is the way to go. With Enderle, Obamacare — sorry, the Affordable Care Act — is a step in the right direction; rich people need to pay more in taxes; and bipartisanship is the way to go.
Bipartisanship? OK, maybe they agree on one thing.