Casper Star Tribune - Enzi and Rothfuss Debate Economy, Iraq
By MATT JOYCE
Associated Press Writer
U.S. Senate candidates Mike Enzi and Chris Rothfuss debated subjects ranging from the economy to the Iraq war in a televised debate Sunday night.
Enzi, the Republican incumbent, is seeking his third six-year term in the Senate. Rothfuss, a chemical engineer and instructor at the University of Wyoming, is the Democratic challenger.
It was the first debate in a series of forums featuring congressional candidates scheduled to be broadcast by Wyoming PBS this week from its Riverton studio.
Enzi said Congress helped cause the economic meltdown by requiring Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to carry out social programs that encouraged people to get mortgage loans they couldn't afford.
"We tried to put more oversight onto the government-sponsored entities, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and others," said Enzi, an accountant and former member of the Wyoming Legislature. "And we weren't able to do that because every time they were brought up we were asked to put more social programs on them."
Enzi voted against the $700 billion economic bailout bill and said Congress needs to spend more time working to stabilize nation's economy.
Rothfuss said government deregulation caused the economic crisis and investors won't have confidence in the financial markets until stricter regulations are re-enacted.
Rothfuss has said he also would have voted against the economic bailout bill.
"I think the bad decisions came out of the banking committee and started with this approach to deregulation," Rothfuss said, referencing Enzi's position on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
Regarding the war in Iraq, Enzi said he's voted consistently to continue funding American operations there. He said he has encouraged the Iraqi government to take more initiative in battling insurgents -- a strategy that has had success in Basra, Mosul and Sadr City, he said.
Enzi said he has been impressed that Iraqi people's commitment to independence.
"Those people want independence, they're working toward independence, independence is working over there, and we are making progress," he said.
Rothfuss said the billions of American dollars spent in Iraq have grown the U.S. national debt while putting American troops in the position of being an occupying force. He said the United States needs to develop a strategy to pull its troops out of the country.
"We've lost 4,187 lives so far in Iraq and I don't know what we've gained from it," Rothfuss said. "We're an occupying force at this point. That's the reason why the violence has diminished, because we've actually achieved an occupation level."
According to an Associated Press count, at least 4,188 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003.