Candidates in the special election to replace Anthony Weiner debated twice on Tuesday, butting heads over spending, taxes, and Israel. The race between Republican Bob Turner and Democrat Dave Weprin is turning out to be surprisingly competitive despite the district’s leftward lean, thanks in part to a series of recent stumbles by Weprin.
Republican Bob Turner offered up a memorable line at a candidates forum on Tuesday when asked if there were any tax breaks he’d consider eliminating if elected to Congress. “As a Republican, I never met a loophole I didn’t like,” he said, according to the New York Times. “I really don’t know.”While Congressional Republicans oppose eliminating virtually all tax loopholes on principle, the typical spin is that they should be reevaluated as part of a broader tax reform package. This conveniently changes the subject from defending some of the more unpopular individual breaks that Democrats have sought to end, like ones that benefit oil companies.
Turner has been courting Jewish voters hard by aggressively condemning President Obama’s call for statehood negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority based on their 1967 borders with additional land swaps. Weprin has condemned the White House position as well.
“A Democratic loss here will scare the Democratic Party and its policy makers to an extent that they will be pushed further back to Israeli-friendliness and economic sanity,” Turner said on Tuesday.
Weprin has tried to focus the race on Turner’s call for rapid deficit reduction, arguing that it’s code for slashing entitlements. “We need responsible cuts, but cuts with a scalpel, not with a hatchet,” he said on Tuesday. “We must preserve Social Security and Medicare.”
Here’s video of the “loophole” exchange, courtesy of the Weprin campaign: