I was not able to live-blog the debate, as I had intended to do, but I did take extensive notes during the Q&A, and the responses appear below:
The first question was about Medicaid expansion: Texas hospitals say no Medicaid expansion mean that more people will be showing up at hospitals for treatment in emergency rooms. This cost will have to be paid for by taxpayers; in other words, no expansion = tax increase. Do you support Medicaid expansion?
Dewhurst: Adding another 1.5 million people to the system will not solve any problems. The answer is to keep growing our economy and adding jobs. We need to compensate our doctors and our hospitals. (I’m not sure what this answer means. It seems inconsistent with compensating our doctors and our hospitals.)
Cruz: I disagree with the premise of your question. I don’t think it’s government’s job to provide health care.
If there is no Medicaid expansion, how will our homeowners be protected from higher taxes?
Dewhurst: We have to create more jobs, lower the cost of health insurance, lower medical malpractice rates. Look at ways we can have group insurance. Have to create new jobs.
Cruz: For a decade, David Dewhurst has been for expanding health care. David Dewhurst has said that health care in Europe is better than in America.
Dewhurst: This is just one more case in what you are saying is not true.
Cruz: Did you say, health care outcomes are better in Europe than in the United States?
Dewhurst: In a lot of areas, our health care outcomes are inferior, like infant mortality rates. We have the best hospitals and the best outcomes.
Cruz: [Responding to Dewhurst’s statement about better health care outcomes in Europe.] These are studies from left leaning organizations like the World Health Organization. U.S has best health care because we have a free market system.
Dewhurst: I’ve been endorsed by the Texas Medical Association. There are too many categories in which we could do better. That’s why I’ve been fighting for free market reforms.
Do you support building a wall along the Texas-Mexico border?
Cruz: I support a fence along the Texas Mexico border. 1,125 miles of pedestrian fence would cost $7.3 billion, but the federal government should pay for it. The federal government should carry out its duties.
Dewhurst: Fence is appropriate in some places, not necessary in others.
Cruz: Dewhurst supported amnesty program in 20o7. He instructed government employees to remove some of his speeches from the state web site.
Dewhurst: All of those documents are fully available. Any document is still on the web site.
Cruz: When the Chronicle broke the story, Dewhurst ordered staff to disable the links.
Dewhurst: Anyone can request any document they want to. All available to anyone. To imply there was anything improper done, you’re the one who was fined by the Senate ethics committee.
Cruz: Dewhurst was late filing the very same form.
Each candidate was allowed to ask a question of the other about one of their ads.
Cruz: “Did you support a payroll tax?”
Dewhurst: I have never supported a payroll tax or a wage tax. I have been trying to cut taxes.
Cruz: There are two dozen contemporaneous statement that you made supporting a payroll tax.
Dewhurst: Ask any of the senators, I was always against a payroll tax. That is why I opposed it. Through this process we were able to cut local school property taxes by $7 billion a year, by one-third.
Cruz: Since Dewhurst was elected, state taxes have gone up 49%. He passed a margins tax on business, but we’re going to cut property taxes. [Cruz to viewers.] Do you believe your property taxes have been cut?
Dewhurst: The state absorbed $7.1 billion…long term savings to businesses and homeowners. Some of the jurisdictions have raised their rates since then. Cruz doesn’t understand the Texas record: we’ve lowered taxes and created more investment and more jobs.
Dewhurst’s China ad is shown.
Dewhurst: Cruz takes China’s side.
Cruz: Notice that the lieutenant governor attacks me, but he doesn’t want to talk about policy. He spent $15 million attacking me. The ad is filled with falsehoods. The lawsuit was between two Chinese tire companies.
Dewhurst: It killed American jobs. Mr. Cruz chose to represent a company, said he wasn’t attorney of record.
Cruz: Do you have investments in China?
Dewhurst: My investments were in a blind trust and I don’ t know if I have investments in China at this time.
Cruz: His holdings are so vast he can’t unwind them.”
What kind of senator would you be? Kay Bailey Hutchison takes care of Texas. Would you be that kind of senator?
Dewhurst: I love this state and will defend the Constitution of the United States. This country needs jobs. I’m the only one of us who started a business and created jobs. We have made this the best state for business.
Cruz: I intend to fight tirelessly for the state of Texas, but we must stop spending money we don’t have.
Overall, I thought Cruz outperformed Dewhurst tonight. The Dew wasn’t bad, but Cruz had him on the defensive most of the night. That said, Cruz’s biggest drawback is that he had a smirk on his face, and it gave him a touch of arrogance that wasn’t very appealing. Dewhurst held his own, but Cruz was fluent and well prepared to zing Dewhurst on issues like the payroll tax.
The Leppert endorsement came at a good point in the race for Dewhurst. Is it enough to turn the tide in Dewhurst’s favor? If I were Dewhurst, I would run ads showing Leppert’s endorsement from the moment early voting begins to the moment the polls close on July 31. I believe this is going to be a very close race. The bigger the turnout, the better it is for Dewhurst. I think the breaking point is around 825,000. If the turnout is less, Cruz wins. If it’s more, Dewhurst wins.