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Lingle, Hirono weigh in after televised debate

Supporters at LInda Lingle's campaign headquarters in Kona get a chance to videoconference with the candidate and other statewide headquarters for a post debate chat. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Supporters at LInda Lingle’s campaign headquarters in Kona get a chance to videoconference with the candidate and other statewide headquarters for a post debate chat. Photography by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

The KHON2/AARP televised debate Monday evening featured U.S. Senate candidates Congresswoman Mazie Hirono and former Gov. Linda Lingle.

The debate was the first of four statewide televised debates between Lingle and Hirono. Three televised debates remain including Oct. 16 on KITV News, Oct. 18 on Island Insights (PBS Hawaii) and Oct. 22 on Hawaii News Now.

Following the debate, both campaigns released statements.

The statement in full from Hirono:

KHON/AARP debate confirms clear differences

At tonight’s U.S. Senate debate hosted by KHON2 and AARP, the differences between Democrat Mazie Hirono and Republican Linda Lingle were crystal clear.

Hirono laid out specifics demonstrating her commitment to Hawaii’s values and priorities, while Lingle continued to push her out-of-touch agenda, which would threaten Obamacare, Medicare and economic growth for the people of Hawaii.

And, yet again, Lingle resisted the fact that her election would help the national Republican Party seize control of the U.S. Senate, and she also denied that her support of Mitt Romney for President has anything to do with Hawaii’s Senate race.

“Since Mazie announced her candidacy for Hawaii’s open U.S. Senate seat, she has made clear to Hawaii voters that, as Senator, Mazie will be a partner and ally of both Senator Inouye and President Obama in working to move Hawaii and America forward,” said Betsy Lin, Campaign Manager for Hirono.

Lin added, “On the other hand, Republican Linda Lingle continued advancing her narrow agenda, which mirrors the agenda of the national Republican Party. Like Mitt Romney, Lingle made clear that she would vote to repeal Obamacare, undo Medicare by turning it into an unreliable voucher system, and give even more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Simply put, this would be bad for Hawaii’s children, seniors, working families and middle-class.”

During the one-hour statewide television debate, Hirono also highlighted just some of her achievements in the U.S. House over the past six years, including the active role she played in helping to pass the historic health care law (a.k.a. “Obamacare”) and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, as well as securing funding for educational opportunities in Hawaii.

In contrast, Lingle continued to present half-truths and misleading attacks about Hirono’s career and record.

The statement in full from Lingle:

Lingle clear debate winner with independent, proven record

Former governor and candidate for Hawaii’s open U.S. Senate seat, Linda Lingle, was the clear victor in the first of four scheduled televised debates before a statewide audience on KHON2 tonight.

“Tonight’s televised debate highlighted the clear choice in this important election. The voters of Hawaii saw again that Linda Lingle has a clear understanding of the important issues facing our state, and has a proven record of accomplishment as an effective, independent leader,” Campaign Manager Bob Lee said.

“Conversely, Mazie Hirono repeatedly sidestepped the issues and displayed an astonishing lack of comprehension of the complex issues that Hawaii’s next U.S. Senator must be prepared to address,” Lee said. “Mazie Hirono’s statements – which included very few specific solutions – point out she is unqualified to be a U.S. Senator.”

The U.S. Senate debate, which was sponsored by the AARP, focused primarily on the future of Social Security, Medicare and healthcare, but also included discussion on issues such as jobs and the economy and the federal budget.

While Hirono talked in platitudes and partisan attacks, Lingle laid out her specific plans for addressing these and other concerns that will impact the lives of the people of Hawaii in the near future.

Hirono Misleads Voters with Inaccurate Statements

Relying on national party talking points, Hirono’s debate performance was light on specifics and filled with inaccuracies and falsehoods. Hirono attempted to mislead the people of Hawaii with statements that were factually inaccurate and patently false. Hirono’s misleading and inaccurate statements have been detailed, fact-checked and sourced in the Debate Fact Check Addendum that follows.

1. Hirono claimed: Governor Lingle’s idea of competition as a means of preserving Medicare is a voucher system.

Fact: Mazie Hirono is wrong on her repeated claims of a voucher system. Governor Lingle’s proposal does not involve a “voucher program.” A voucher program is where a beneficiary receives a payment (the “voucher”) from government and then fends for himself or herself. Under Governor Lingle’s proposal, Medicare Choice, a beneficiary can select an insurance program, including traditional Medicare, from a health exchange and the federal government will make the payment directly to the selected insurance provider. The current Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which is available to members of Congress, including Mazie Hirono, and which is considered a “gold standard” of healthcare plans, is just such a program. It is not a voucher program. If this program is good enough for Mazie Hirono and members of Congress, it is good enough for our kupuna.

Source: Federal Employees Receive High Value Coverage through FEHBP, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (April 16, 2012) (available at:

2. Hirono claimed: She played a primary role in the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007.

Fact: Hirono was one of 93 co-sponsors of the bill (H.R.2831), hardly a primary role.


3. Hirono claimed: The $16 trillion debt we now owe as a nation was the result of the two wars and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent.

Fact: According to Hirono’s own analysis, the costs of tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent amounted to approximately $830 billion. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the cost of the Iraq War was approximately $1.4 trillion. These costs are a far cry from the $16 trillion national debt. Hirono does not understand the magnitude and causes of the debt we are leaving to the next generation. As Ed Case has said, the budget is merely an inconvenience for Mazie Hirono.


4. Hirono said, the”fiscal cliff, better known as sequestration.”

Fact: Hirono is wrong to say that the “fiscal cliff” is simply known as sequestration. The automatic cuts (sequestration) scheduled to take effect in January 2013 are only part of the fiscal cliff equation; the other parts are the expiration of tax cuts for all Americans, the alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch, the payroll tax cut, and other tax extenders which affect individual businesses, charitable giving, energy community development and disaster relief. For her to gloss over this subject shows that she does not understand the issue.

As the Congressional Budget Office states, “Under current law, the federal budget deficit will fall dramatically between 2012 and 2013 owing to scheduled increases in taxes and, to a lesser extent, scheduled reductions in spending-a development that some observers have referred to as a ‘fiscal cliff.'”


5. Hirono claimed: So-called “big oil” companies receive “$4 billion a year” in tax benefits.

Fact: The independent Congressional Budget Office reports that all tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel (includes oil, gas and coal) amounted to $2.5 billion a year.

The cost for all tax breaks and subsidies in our federal tax code is $1.1 trillion a year. Hirono cannot justify proposing to close the deficit by hanging her hat on something that amounts to about two-tenths of one percent of all tax benefits. Alone, this does nothing significant to reduce the deficit, ignores over 99% of all other tax subsidies, and demonstrates Hirono’s lack of knowledge on reducing the federal deficit and debt.


6. Hirono claimed: One solution to the federal deficit and debt problem is going after “waste and fraud” in Medicare which would save “$600 billion over 10 years”.

Fact: She bases this on a 2011 GAO report, which stated that in fiscal year 2010 Medicare and Medicaid made a total of over $48 billion in improper payments. Waste and fraud in Medicare should be eliminated. But it is a fallacy to assume their elimination for one year and state the 10-year amount as hard savings that would help preserve Medicare. Medicare benefits to our seniors would be at risk if they placed hope and reliance on this empty number.

Source: Improper Payments – Reported Medicare estimates and Key Remediation Strategies, U.S. Government Accountability Office (July 28, 2011) (available at:

7. Hirono claimed: She voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act which resulted in $1.4 billion of stimulus funds that “kickstarted” the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative.

Fact: Hirono claims that the $1.4 billion in federal ARRA stimulus funds, including $100 million for energy programs, was the “jump start” for the Lingle Administration’s Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. The fact is that the State of Hawaii only received $47.38 million in federal stimulus funds for energy programs. Many of the programs of HCEI, which was launched in January 2008, were well underway before the stimulus funds were realized within the state in late 2009. Mazie Hirono continues to exaggerate her role and claim successes that are not her own.

Federal Government’s Role in Stimulating Hawaii’s Economy. Testimony of Linda Lingle, Governor of the State of Hawaii, Before the United States Senate Appropriations Committee on The Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, on Monday, August 24, 2009, at the Hawaii State Capitol. Available online:

8. Hirono claimed: “My opponent is the co-chair of Governor Romney’s campaign.”

Fact: Governor Lingle joined other notable leaders in the Jewish American community – Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike – in being named as honorary chairman for the Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition. Governor Lingle is not the co-chair of Governor Romney’s campaign.

Jewish Americans for Romney Coalition. August 1, 2012.

9. Hirono claimed: “I was very successful in working with a lot of people to get earmarks”

Fact: Hirono depicts herself as “a doer,” citing her No. 1 ranking in the House for earmarks in 2010 as an example, but that’s more of the enigma.”According to Legistorm, only $10.4 million of the $341.4 million in earmarks credited to her from 2008 to 2010 were “solo” earmarks, while the big total was mostly amassed by co-sponsoring with other lawmakers – primarily the self-proclaimed earmark king Inouye, who was credited with $600.4 million in solo pork during that period.”


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