2020 Election: Sherrill, Becchi Debate Focuses on Healthcare, Coronavirus Response

Rep. Mikie Sherrill and GOP Challenger Rosemary Becchi squared off Oct. 13 in their final debate before the election.

The two candidates for the 11th Congressional District discussed issues involving healthcare, coronavirus, the economy, policing reform and their records.

The first subject broached was in regards to healthcare, as Becchi wants to do away with big government program created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She advocated on focusing on improving employer-based health insurance programs, enhancing private insurance competition and transparency. She said she would work to protect those with pre-existing conditions like her daughter.

Employer Insurance

“We need healthcare that is low cost and high quality, not a government-run system,” said Becchi. ”(Sherrill) wants big government solutions, which will destroy our current system and double our taxes. A government-run system is not the solution.” 

Sherrill answered that Becchi lacks a specific plan and that pre-existing conditions are only coverened do to provisions in the ACA. 

“Simple saying you want to protect people is not a plan,” stated the congresswoman. “(Becchi) said she wants to get rid of the ACA…I want to improve it.”

On issues of the economy, Sherrill focused on Becchi’s career as a lobbyist that included the backing of the Republicans 2017 tax bill that removed the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction. She noted that Republican North Jersey lawmakers in office at that time voted against the bill.

SALT Deduction

“The SALT deduction was harmful to New Jersey families. My opponent lobbied for her corporate clients for that bill which hurt our New Jersey families,” said Sherrill, who has passed three bills since being elected in 2018 to address the matter but has yet to be taken up in the Senate.

Becchi agreed that she did support the bill, but stressed it would be a priority of hers to fix the SALT deduction if elected.  

“Some portions were good,” she said. “The bill lowered corporate taxes and created jobs, putting money into businesses large and small. On the whole, it was good.”

But Sherrill stated you can’t take SALT out of the picture when judging the bill. 

“SALT paid for debt spending and tax cuts across the country….that is why it was so particularly bad for New Jersey,” said Sherrill. “My opponent says she wants to got to the House and fix it. I have already fixed it.” 

Partisan Politics

Becchi continued with her campaign theme of Sherrill being beholden to partisan politics, voting with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 99% in order to receive campaign funding from the Democratic party.

“She is beholden to the system, this (race) is about being beholden to the people,” said Becchi. “I will be an independent voice.” 

Sherrill, who did not vote for Pelosi in the Speaker’s race in 2017, denied the claim and said the votes she has taken with Pelosi included measures to limit gun purchases, impose restrictions on China due to human right abuses, condemning anti-semitism and permanently funding 9/11 fund. Additionally, Sherrill noted four bipartisan legislation she sponsored were signed by President Trump.

“Are you against those things?” asked the congresswoman.

Defund the Police

The GOP nominee challenged Sherrill on her vote Becchi said would defund the police and do away with qualified immunity.

“We need police to defend us,” said Becchi, adding qualified immunity allows officer to react without a moment’s hesitation in dangerous situations.

Sherrill, a former federal prosecutor, framed her voting for the bill as looking to export the policing standards in New Jersey to across America.

“As we face what is going on in the country, too many times we see a video of black men shot in back running away. We need to address this,” said Sherrill. ”When given a great deal of responsibility comes with a great deal of accountability. Bad actors need to be held  accountable.”

Coronavirus Fall Out

Becchi sought to connect the issue of crime rising in New York as a reason North Jersey residents were not going to their jobs in the city and the inability of Congress to pass a second CARES Act.

“We need new funding to cover essential services…not only to hospitals and schools, but businesses,” said Becchi. “Giving money to illegal immigrants and election laws measures are not needed in the bill.” 

But Sherrill said the blame laid the issue of New York City at the doorstep of President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Presidential Failure

“Most people are not going to New York City because of the coronavirus, not crime,” said the congresswoman. “The critical problem is the coronavirus, where the President has been such a failure.”

She gave an example of attending a briefing in early March which revealed how inadequate the nation’s strategic stockpile was. Sherrill believes federal action should have been invoked at that time that would have helped provide the supplies needed for the pandemic .

“The President refused to invoke the Defense Protection Act,” said Sherrill, resulting in states and cities bidding against each other to obtain the supplies needed such as personal protection equipment and ventilators, driving up costs. 

In their closing statements, both candidates promised to work for New Jersey families, with Becchi saying the election was “a choose between two paths of freedom or socialism, I choose freedom.” Sherrill said “we have a plan to take care of people,” especially on issues such as healthcare and lowering taxes.

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