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Candidates draw clear divide

Tonko and Dieterich point to party agendas in crafting arguments

Paul Tonko and Bob Dieterich greet each other before the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County's candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

Paul Tonko and Bob Dieterich greet each other before the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County's candidate forum on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Photo by John Purcell.

Divided on health care

— The first question from the audience was on the Affordable Healthcare Act, which Tonko said is a victory along with Medicare reform, which has helped close the doughnut hole for prescription drug costs.

“The guidelines here, that speak from cradle to the most senior among our population, to be well served by access and affordable care are important,” Tonko said. “If we’re concerned about that most senior population, then we should be concerned about a (Vice Presidential candidate Paul) Ryan plan … that ends Medicare as we know it.”

Dieterich said Medicare is not viable in the long term and efforts must be made to reform the program before it goes bankrupt in about a decade.

“If we don’t do anything … we will lose Medicare as we know it,” Dieterich said. “I’ve seen the Ryan plan and you can shoot holes in it, but you’ve got to address it.”

Candidates find little common ground

Dieterich moved on to attack Tonko’s energy policy. He said subsidies can “skew” markets and lead to “distortions” in the marketplace. Once the subsidies are gone, he said it could lead to more harm than help.

Tonko said he did introduce a comprehensive energy plan during his first term. The House of Representatives passed the bill, but he said it was defeated by the “deep pockets” of special interests in the Senate.

He said subsidies to oil companies should be eliminated to help spur “homegrown” renewable energy solutions and industry.

“The subsidy that has been mindless and a century old has been the subsidies to the oil industry, the most profit-rich industry in the history of capitalism,” Tonko said.

One issue the two candidates agreed on was the need for campaign finance reform, but it lead to sparring back and forth over claims of special interests donations and influence.

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