Central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) and Democratic challenger Dana Balter faced off their first debate Wednesday, which was hosted and streamed by Syracuse.com.
The two disagreed on nearly every issue, including healthcare. Balter, noting there are people in the district who can’t afford healthcare right now, believes in the concept of Medicare for all.
"We need to make sure every person in our district, and across the country, has health insurance and health care, and Medicare for all is the way to do it," Balter said.
Katko said extending government involvement in health care is not a good idea.
"She’s talking about saying you're going to save money by doubling the size of government overnight. Think about that, doubling the size of government overnight. Doubling every individuals taxes, doubling businesses tax,” Katko said.
Balter also accused Katko of being a yes man for the Trump administration. She said that’s evident by a series of administration officials who have visited the 24th Congressional District in recent months.
"You are literally standing with the Trump Administration, in addition to voting with Donald Trump’s agenda, which is anything but a moderate agenda, and you have done that more than 90-percent of the time," Balter said.
Katko countered with statistics he said show his independence.
"She’s trying hard desperately to tie me to Donald Trump so that somehow, some way, she can get away from the fact that I am one of the most bipartisan members in all of Congress," said Katko.
The two disagreed on other issues, including the impact of the tax law that went into effect this year. And while Katko embraced more border security in the face of a migrant caravan moving through Mexico, Balter said the U.S. shouldn’t turn its back on immigrants and should use the asylum protocol that’s in place.
This was the first debate in the race for the 24th District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne counties and the western part of Oswego County. Three other televised debates are still to come before Election Day on November 6.