Senate Candidates Debate War, Taxes, Jobs In Final Debate

In their final debate before a special election next week, the U.S. Senate candidates sparred, sometimes combatively, on issues including taxes, job creation, health care reform, the war in Afghanistan and the treatment of suspected terrorists.

Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley invoked Kennedy in saying health care is a right, not a privilege.

“This system is broken. Massachusetts will benefit with $500 million, closing the doughnut hole for prescriptions for seniors,” Coakley said. “It’s a good plan for Massachusetts.”

Coakley said she would vote against a final national health care overhaul if it includes a more restrictive anti-abortion amendment that was part of the House version of the bill, but believed the final version of the bill would include the less restrictive Senate language, which she could support.

State Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) said the proposed health care bills should be scrapped and other states allowed to pass their own overhauls, as Massachusetts did in 2006.

“What we will be doing for the next, pick a number, three, four, five years, we will be subsidizing what other states have failed to do,” Brown said.

Joseph L. Kennedy, a Libertarian unrelated to the late senator, also opposes the bill, calling it “pork” for some senators to bring home.

“Health care will pass, it will be bought for, because of the politics as usual going on in Washington,” Kennedy said. “The question is who is going to work to repeal it once it passes?”

The special election is set for Jan. 19.

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