In a rematch from two years ago, Congressman Bill Owens and Watertown businessman Matt Doheny are squaring in the 21st Congressional race. Thursday night, the two went toe to toe on the issues, participating in an exclusive YNN political debate. Our Brian Dwyer has more.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- The sluggish economy dominated the debate between Congressman Bill Owens and Republican Challenger Matt Doheny. The two met up at Jefferson County Community College in Watertown, for their final debate before the November elections.
Bill Owens serves currently as the representative for the 23rd District, but because of redistricting, he and Doheny are vying for the 21 Congressional seat.
Doheny slammed Owens on the unemployment rate in the North County. He says he has a plan to expand business in New York by cutting away some of the red tape.
"Look, I'm a business man. I've been associated with tens of businesses,” Dohney said. “There's not a single business out there that says 'you know what? If you raise my taxes, and hit me with more regulations, I'm going to go ahead and create more jobs.”
Owens, meanwhile, says he also has a plan to jump start the economy. He wants to close offshore tax loopholes and reduce taxes for companies that create jobs.
Owens said, "I do not think that the proposals being made by opponent in Washington, particularly, Mr. Romney, do enough to get us to what two we need to do: Reduce the deficit and help create jobs."
The candidates also touched on the controversial affordable care act. Owens supports the bill, but says he wants to see some changes, while Doheny says he will work to repeal the entire act.
Owens said, “We have to be pragmatic and practical and take a look at how we can accomplish the goals the best. I'll also tell you that I voted several times to repeal portions of the act. So I'm very prepared to move in a direction that makes it a better bill.”
Doheny said, “And what does Obamacare do? It cuts over $700 billion from Medicare. At the same time, raises taxes 20 different ways to add up to a trillion dollars.”
The health care bill is a major campaign issue in races across the country, with most republicans pledging to repeal it, while most democrats say they want it to remain in place.
The two men also discussed the future of legislation that would have a big impact on one of our area's biggest industries.
The 2008 Farm Bill officially expired after Congress failed to reach an agreement. It provides incentives and subsidies to farms that they say help keep them in business.
Congressman Owens says he's worked to help the farmers, but says the GOP is standing in the way.
"We have put up four or five different bills that would have addressed that issue. The Republican leadership has refused to let those bills onto the floor. Even when they have been supported, on a bipartisan basis, by many Republicans in the house," Owens.
"I've met with tens of farmers across this state and they want to know 'what are you going to do about labor?' We are going to fix this labor situation,” Doheny said. “Especially for our dairy men who don't have seasonality, they need to milk the cows 24/7, 365 days a year. We are going to provide you with relief."
There's been some speculation that milk prices could double if Congress doesn't act on this bill by the end of the year.
The newly drawn 21st Congressional District stretches all the way from Watertown to parts of the Capital Region.
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