More coverage of the Terry-Ewing race
Tensions are rising in the race to represent the Omaha area in Congress. That was apparent during a Thursday debate full of personal digs.
Rep. Lee Terry and Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing met at the Omaha Press Club in the race's final debate. Terry, a Republican, and Ewing, a Democrat, are running for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Thursday's League of Women Voters forum followed weeks of sniping between the candidates over each other's record and the accuracy of television ads.
Ewing has lagged behind Terry in fundraising and polling for most of the race. But a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll released this week showed the race tightening. The committee has not put money into the race.
The candidates rehashed an argument over energy independence and what role Terry played in a bill that increased fuel efficiency standards for vehicles.
Ewing accused Terry of overstating his contributions to that bill. Terry countered that Ewing had not accurately described the congressman's proposal.
Things also heated up when Terry referenced a Ewing fundraising email that called Terry a former "water boy," citing their time together at Omaha Northwest High School. Ewing was on the football team while Terry, one year younger, served as an equipment manager.
"I probably take things a little too personally," Terry said. "That really hurt."
Ewing did not address the comment.
Both said they would consider significant changes to Medicare and Social Security to keep the programs solvent, including increasing the minimum age to start receiving benefits.
"There's no more solemn a promise than there is to our seniors," Terry said. He took a dig at President Barack Obama's health care law, saying the measure was no "way to help Medicare."
Ewing diverged slightly, saying he would consider raising the cap on the amount of wages taxed for Social Security.
"All of tax policy should be about balance," Ewing said.
The two did agree that the earmark process needs to be made more transparent. (House leadership has imposed a moratorium on earmarks.)
"The legislation has become convoluted and not straightforward," Ewing said.
Terry, who once supported earmarks, said he has voted for amendments to strip earmarks out of bills.
"I thought it became a really corrupt procedure," he said.
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