Kerrey, Fischer meet in final Senate debate

U.S. Senate candidates Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer debate at the NET studios in Lincoln, Neb. on Oct. 1, 2012. (Photo by Kim Rogers, NET)
The panel for the debate included Fred Knapp of NET News, Colleen Williams from NTV Television in Kearney and Kevin O'Hanlon from the Lincoln Journal Star. (Photo by Kim Rogers, NET)
Pro-Bob Kerrey demonstrators gathered outside NET before the debate. (Photo by Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News)
A truck plastered with anti-Bob Kerrey messages was parked across the street from NET prior to the debate, but left before it started. (Photo by Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News)
October 1, 2012 - 9:08pm

LINCOLN, NEB. - Democrat Bob Kerrey and Republican Deb Fischer headed into the home stretch of the campaign season by wrapping up their third and final debate.

MORE DEBATE COVERAGE

Video: The NET Senate debate will be archived and available to watch on NET's website starting after 10:30 p.m. CT tonight, Oct. 1.

Radio: Tune into NET Radio tomorrow during Morning Edition at 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. and during All Things Considered at 4:30 p.m. CT for our Signature Story on the debate.

Twitter: Visit the NET News Twitter page to read our live tweets from the debate and see behind-the-scenes photos.

Facebook: Join the conversation - share your thoughts on the debate on the NET News Facebook page.

The U.S. Senate candidates met at the NET studios in Lincoln to discuss issues ranging from education to foreign policy, but it didn't take long for them to resume their disagreements over how to handle the federal budget. This has been an ongoing point of contention between the the two.

Fischer, a state senator from Valentine, Neb., repeated her support for a balanced budget amendment that would limit government spending as a percentage of GDP. Kerrey, a former governor and U.S. Senator, asserted that would require immediate cuts on the order of a trillion dollars, which would cost jobs and weaken programs from Medicare to the military. Fischer said further regulatory and tax reforms would grow the economy and limit the impact of spending cuts.

The candidates also differed on health care reform and its impact on Medicare. Fischer said she would work to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including a provision which cuts $716 billion from Medicare by lowering payments to hospitals and insurers. That provision is also part of the House budget proposed by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Kerrey defended the law for its coverage of preexisting conditions. He said reversing the reductions in Medicare would lead to the program running out of money in 2016.

The outcome of the race between Kerrey and Fischer could help influence the balance of power in the U.S. Senate: a Fischer victory would flip control of the seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson to the Republicans.

Tune into NET Radio tomorrow, Oct. 2, for more coverage of the debate. Listen for that story at 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CT.

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