Senate Candidates Debate Economy, Health Care

Sen. Robert Menendez and State Sen. Joe Kyrillos held first of three debates at Montclair State University Thursday.

Sen. Robert Menendez and State Sen. Joe Kyrillos discussed the economy, health care and foreign policy in a combative debate Thursday.

The candidates, who are competing for one of New Jersey's seats in the U.S. Senate, each claimed their own policies would prove to be more beneficial to the state's middle class families.

Kyrillos, a Republican, has held a seat in the New Jersey Senate since 1992. Menendez, a Democrat and the incumbent, has held his current position since he was appointed by then-Gov. Jon Corzine in 2006. He previously served in the House of Representatives.

Menendez said he would fight for the middle class by continuing to lead initiatives like creating tax credits for families and students. He also said he wanted to close tax loopholes exploited by corporations and continue to bring money to New Jersey, as he has for transportation programs like NJTransit.

"The middle class is under attack, and that is why I have been fighting back," Menendez said.

Kyrillos criticized Menendez for a possible increase in the tax rate next year, but Menendez said he believed legislators would work hard for the remainder of this year to keep taxes from increasing.

"We have to be sure we don't give a body blow to this economy, which is still in recovery," Menendez told reporters.

Kyrillos said he would advocate for universal tax cuts, including for corporations, in order to encourage growth. He has previously supported state initiatives to create incentives to encourage businesses to come to New Jersey.

"We're going to have to raise revenue, and I want to do it through growth," Kyrillos said.

On health care, Menendez said he would continue his policy of advocating for low-income families to have affordable options. On abortion, he is pro-choice and has previously voted in favor of health care which allows women to have different options.

"I want women to make their own decisions about their health care and their bodies," Menendez said.

Menendez criticized Kyrillos for changing his stance on abortion from pro-life to pro-choice, though Kyrillos said he believes women should have options, but also supports parental notice and a waiting period. Kyrillos said he opposes third trimester abortions.

Kyrillos also said he believed some of the president's health care changes were necessary, including coverage for people with pre-existing illnesses and allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plans. Other parts of the plan come with too high a cost, Kyrillos said, though he did not specify what portions. 

Both candidates agreed that Iran was a serious threat to national security. Menendez has sponsored legislation creating sanctions against Iran, which he said has already had an effect on their economy and he hoped would discourage their pursuit of a nuclear program. Kyrillos said the sanctions were not working, as Iran has apparently not given up on its nuclear ambitions.

Kyrillos also said he supports an eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan, though he previously criticized the withdrawal time line. Menendez said he was glad American troops were gone from Iraq because he believed it was a mistake to go there in the first place. He also supports a switch from an anti-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan to an anti-terrorist strategy, which would require fewer troops in the country, he said. 

The candidates are scheduled to participate in two more debates on Oct. 10, sponsored by 101.5 FM, and Oct. 14, sponsored by The League of Women Voters of New Jersey Education Fund, WABC-TV, WPV1-TZV and Univision.

Patriot October 06, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Save our REPUBLIC! Send Menendez Packing! Clean house of these corrupt politicians who want to destroy our great country. Get rid of Obama and all his czars and all his toadies, radicals, Marxists, globalists, Etc. Restore our GREAT and CHARITABLE COUNTRY! GOD BLESS THE USA! ELECT KRILLIOS!
K October 06, 2012 at 08:14 AM
Lol fox is the most widely known publication that lies to its viewers you need to do more research....
K October 06, 2012 at 08:20 AM
And also the republican party is controlled by the bush legacy, and Prescott bush was the manager of the largest nazi bank during world war 2 in new york city. Of which was taken from him by the us govt. then after the war was over he was free to spread his hatred around using his vast financial coffers. Which have yet to run dry sp again u don't know what your talking about. The original republican party is not the one that exists today. Yes I did say little George ws granddaddy was a godamn nazi o yeah and u people voted for him twice.......pay attention and stop shooting out your blow hole
K October 06, 2012 at 08:21 AM
O yeah republicans fox = same thing.
PeoplePlease October 06, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Everything is NOT free in America. A vote for Sen Menendez is a vote in favor of more deficit spending that is being inefficiently spent, lower middle and upperclass job growth and a continued increase in entitlement spending geared towards keeping votes within the government supported lifestyle cylce.
Sue Osnato October 06, 2012 at 12:11 PM
While I will agree that both parties are quite different than they were. Your argument makes no sense to me. Are you saying all Republicans are Nazi's because of GWB's grandfather? hmm... So if you have a family member that's an idiot. Does that make you an idiot? I never even met my grandfather. Should I be judged by a man I never met? This is about Menedez, not anything other than Menedez. Tell me, why is it you think he should be reelected? My vote is ready to be cast for the best person for the job. Tell me why it should be him.
Jeff Mattingly October 06, 2012 at 02:18 PM
NJ is 49th in poorest return of taxation dollars back to the states. Our Senators have done a lousy job of looking after NJ's best interests! I am/was a Democrat for 25 years.
paul smith October 06, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Scondo- You are so-o-o-o right. NJ, NY Ct and most other "blue states" all get the royal shaft in terms of the amount we plow to dc vs what we get back. This is a bipartisan problem. ALL of our reps in DC do absolutely NOTHING for their constituents (us). Ironic thing is that the red state yahoos feed like pigs at the federal trough while saying they want the govt off their backs. If we got 75 cents back for every buck we send to dc, we would have a SURPLUS-
B@B October 06, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Wait....so Menendez and Obama are now responsible for the Vienna Treaty of 1969, when Obama was eight years old and Menendez was fifteen??? ***headdesk*** Is that part of the Giant Obama Birth Conspiracy, where his mother magically and psychically predicted his ascension to the presidency in a country that was in 1961 not even out of Jim Crow yet???
Bill Heller October 06, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Kyrillos abandoned his District 13 constituents by not even making a comment to support Union Beach in its fight to prevent a 38-story noisy industrial wind turbine with blades each the size of a cell tower from being erected way too close to a lot of homes. It would further degrade home values in our working class town, along with a host of other problems. Hazlet, Matawan, Holmdel, Keyport, Union Beach and Monmouth County (all within his district) also passed resolutions opposing the turbine. But still Kyrillos refused to weigh in, even after he granted a meeting to a few locals looking for his help. Recently, he was the only Republican sponsor on a bill that would have allowed wind turbines up to 500' tall on preserved farm land in two southern NJ counties. Kyrillos is not what he claims. He's a wheeling-and-dealing back door politician with no loyalty to the people he's supposed to represent. I'm a Republican, and will gladly vote for a write-in candidate as Kyrillos is deliberately throwing his Union Beach area constituents under the bus.
Max October 06, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Destroying incentives for low and middle-class people is hardly an excellent track record. The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing the greatest amount of free meals and food stamps ever. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals." Their stated reason for the policy is because the animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves. Ironically, many of Menendez's supporters are dependent, never given a full chance to succeed on their own.
tr October 07, 2012 at 01:42 AM
NJ deserves better representation in the US Senate than either one of these two political hacks. We need REAL change. I Suggest you goggle Robert Turkavadge for NJ US senator. Central Jersey family guy, ex-FBI, wants only one(1)term, knows Washington corruption from the law enforcement side, knows NJ. The two party system is killing the local taxpayer, radical reform is required! Honesty in politics is not aon impossible goal, it just takes a unbeholding FEARLESS competitive individual. I believe his name is "TURK"
Mike Kupchik October 07, 2012 at 02:08 AM
The best third-party impact in my lifetime was Perot. I was involved in it, met the man, and was amazed how much fear we gave those in power at the time. They went out of their ways to meet with us in person, but all it eventually did was to give Clinton the largest-vote tally and win. Sadly, the dissenters still need more clout to cure things.
WorriedMan2012 October 08, 2012 at 12:56 AM
I find it uncanny that these Democrat Politicians all never had a real job other than politics, and keep touting that they want to "save the middle class", as they make themselves Millionaires from Lobbyists, and "Cronyism", They want to keep the Middle Class working so the Lower Class get a free ride, and the upper class becomes a target so they can get re-elected by the Lower class. It's a Shame that Menendez, and Obama have all gotten rich, thorugh Politics.. Lautenberg, who was rich to begin with, entered politics.. to become richer! VOTERS SHOULD GET WISED UP!
Belleville Sentinel October 08, 2012 at 07:27 AM
I find so much of the Democrat-bashing with these Patch comments to be full of vitriol and no truth. So many of these attacks are just baseless regurgitation of Limbaugh/Faux Noise Channel rhetoric devoid of any credibility. A simple Wiki search about Senator Lautenberg shows that he, unlike Mr. Romney, was certainly not born with a silver spoon in his mouth: Lautenberg was born in Paterson, New Jersey, to Sam and Mollie Lautenberg, impoverished Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia, who had arrived in the United States as infants. When Lautenberg was 19, his father, Sam, who worked in silk mills, sold coal, farmed and once ran a tavern, died of cancer. Frank Lautenberg had no formal Jewish education as a child; the family could not afford to join a synagogue and did not live very long in any single place.
B@B October 08, 2012 at 11:07 AM
Belleville: The thing about today's right is that they are not interested in facts, and they do not change their minds based on facts. They have a set worldview, and even when their worldview is proven wrong, they insist that, as Stephen Colbert wryly said at the now-infamous White House Correspondents Dinner, "facts have a well-known liberal bias."
Pete Mock October 08, 2012 at 02:05 PM
It still amazes me that people think like this, but I guess when you feed only at the the trough of fear and paranoia you lose a taste for reality.
hrhppg October 08, 2012 at 02:26 PM
"He is in favor of the Arms Trade Treaty which will decimate our Second Amemdment;" Wellsir you just gave yourself away as one of those hired commentators - as they Arms Trade Treaty would do almost nothing to the 2nd amendment- unless you use the 2nd amendment to export or import illegal firearms and if so you are the one violating the 2nd amendment. To know that you've had to have read it and not read the NRA's blather.
hrhppg October 08, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Belleville Sentinel most of these posters are probably professionals who are part of the rights current misinformation campaign. Like Romney's facebook page likes - it's been found out that most of those people are paid to like his campaigns page. It is the same with websites that do consumer reviews - a lot of those are written by paid reviewers. Some of the posts above are quoting special interests groups propaganda.
Hookerman October 08, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Not to mention that Lautenberg had 33 years of business experience (on top of his military experience) when he entered politics at the age of 58. WorriedMan needs to become an EducatedMan.
Pete Mock October 08, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Indeed HRH, his entire comment history consists of the two comments on this article. By itself that's not evidence of anything, but his comments do sound like talking points. Other folks have mentioned that this was happening on Patch and elsewhere, but I hadn't seen it. They're hired to respond to articles found by searching for news stories with certain key words, and then they use a pre written post and insert the Senator's name. That may also explain why his was the first post. Also, I don't see too many real posts telling us to buy a certain book, but the real give away is Chris's second comment below where he's pushing us to buy a book that's not even out yet ("due out by 10/8"). Chris, any response? Did you really read this great new book?
XJS October 08, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Lautenbery and Menendez do nothing to bring $ back to NJ. We need to boot them both!
Scondo October 08, 2012 at 04:24 PM
That is an absurd proposition, you really think that "professional" posters are making these comments on a local Patch forum. If that were the case the unemployment rate would be 3%. Come on, just because you don't like the commentary or the tone is not a reason to attempt to discredit them through your specious conspiracy theory.
Scondo October 08, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Belleville Sentinel----When you pull someone's biography from Wikipedia you ought to at least give them credit.
Scondo October 08, 2012 at 04:48 PM
I do not think that anyone is questioning Lauttenberg's business experience and that ADP became very successful and brought him personal wealth. The question is to the idea of the results they have shown NJ. We have a very poor showing from our total congressional delegation regardless of stripe. They are simply not effective.
Hookerman October 08, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I think someone was.... quote WorriedMan2012; "I find it uncanny that these Democrat Politicians all never had a real job other than politics"
Scondo October 08, 2012 at 05:31 PM
@Hookerman --That is perhaps true in the case of most of them, it is not true for Frank. There is another issue with Frank that few want to talk about and that is the age factor and the idea that they should hold office till death as in the case of Ted Kennedy. We are developing a farm system of politics where we have a lot of unskilled, unproven, careeris politicians who have never had to deal in real world business situations so they have no conscious idea of budgets and money and where it comes from. Obama is one such guy, but so is Corey Booker and so is the GOP VEEP candidate. None of these guys impress as much as Frank--at least Frank worked before becoming senator. The real issue is the lack of money coming back to the state of NJ
Hookerman October 08, 2012 at 06:21 PM
And do you know what the criticism of Lautenberg was when he first ran for Senate in 1982? That he wasn’t a seasoned politician like his opponent Millicent Fenwick was. We want our politicians to be experienced, but too much experience, and we dub them career politicians. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Belleville Sentinel October 08, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I thought is was clear from my post that the information was taken from the Wiki page for Senator Lautenberg.
Louis Herkalo October 19, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I love hearing people talk about absentee Senator's. What about NJ's absentee Govenor? He's more worries more about Mitt Romney getting elected then he does about the state he was elected to govern! Everytime Christie goes from state to state, the money to travel, food(I can imagine what that tab is alone!), etc. comes out of your pocket, not his! As for Corzine, he wasn't too well liked. One thing he did though was leave Christie a surplus when he left office! Then when NJ's larger then life Govenor took over there was a $440,000 mistake. 1st Christie blamed & fired Brett Schundler, then he blamed Obama? Tuns out Christie was the one who made the "huge" mistake!


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