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Bayh, Young Attack Each Other's Voting Records in Hard-Hitting Senate Debate

Evan Bayh and Todd Young pounded each other as tools of special interests who don't have Hoosiers' well-being at heart, in a slugfest of a debate for a U.S. Senate seat from Indiana.


The Indianapolis debate is the only one planned in a race which is critical to both Republicans' and Democrats' hopes of controlling the Senate. Both Young and Bayh came armed with lists of votes the other has cast in Congress -- Young for six years in the House, Bayh for 12 in the Senate.


No vote surfaced as frequently as the federal health care law, which Young repeatedly raised in order to remind voters that the law barely reached the 60-vote threshold needed to cut off a Republican filibuster, making Bayh's yes vote arguably the deciding vote. Young repeatedly denounced the law as "the biggest tax increase in history" and "a job killer," but also argues Bayh ignored pleas from constituents to oppose it.


Bayh charges Young's continued opposition to the law would turn the clock back to a time when people could be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions and women could be charged higher premiums. Both candidates accused the other of doing the bidding of special interests, with Bayh charging Young's opposition would line the pockets of insurance companies, while Young renewed his criticism of Bayh's work for a lobbying firm after leaving the Senate in 2010.


The special-interests theme was a recurring one throughout the 50-minute debate, not only from Bayh and Young but from Libertarian nominee Lucy Brenton, who noted both campaigns and the independent groups supporting them are expected to spend upwards of 30-million dollars trying to win the seat.


While Young repeatedly returned to health care, Bayh came back again and again to Carrier's impending move to Mexico from Indianapolis, blasting Young for supporting a tax break that enables the move. And he jabbed Young for voting for cuts in spending on items like veterans' programs, and against a bill to ban people on the no-fly list from buying guns.


Easily lost in the back-and-forth were the rare points of agreement between Bayh and Young. Both say they support limits on government regulation, and Bayh says he supports defining full-time work as 40 hours a week, not 30 as the health care law requires. Young's authored a bill to make that change.


Both candidates also support a more muscular foreign policy. Bayh slams Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a tyrant, and says there should be war crimes trials over Russian actions in Syria. He says the U.S. should work with allies to assist in recapturing the ISIS capital of Raqqa. Young also calls for closer cooperation with allies, as well as looser rules of engagement in Iraq and Syria and broader use of warplanes.


While Young and Bayh were more or less in sync on military action in the Middle East, their hawkish approach put them at odds with Brenton, who repeatedly slammed what she says has been an indiscriminate policy of "dropping bombs on people." She says she'd support only humanitarian aid to the Middle East, and pursue economic engagement with Russia to forge warmer relations.

The candidates are seeking the seat of retiring Republican Senator Dan Coats. It’s the same seat Bayh held from 1998 to 2010.

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