Klobuchar, Bills engage in feisty debate at fair

Published 9:23 am Friday, August 31, 2012

FALCON HEIGHTS — U.S. Senate candidates Amy Klobuchar and Kurt Bills met for the first wide-ranging debate of the campaign Thursday, a lively Minnesota State Fair exchange that showcased deep policy differences between the candidates and no reluctance from either to fling tough rhetoric.

The debate, aired live on Minnesota Public Radio, focused largely on the federal budget, taxes, spending and jobs. But it also touched on foreign policy and veterans issues, global warming and energy, agriculture and trade policy, and social issues.

The candidates displayed wide differences on fiscal policy. While both acknowledged the need to address the massive federal debt and deficit, they diverged strongly on how best to do it. Klobuchar, the Democratic incumbent, called for spending cuts mixed with allowing the expiration of President George W. Bush-era tax cuts on yearly income above $250,000.

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She said that alone would raise an additional $700 billion a year.

“That’s a big chunk of change. It must be a balanced approach,” Klobuchar said.