“John Tierney took $600,000 from every PAC in Washington, D.C. That’s who’s funding his campaign,” Tisei fired back.
When Tierney claimed that, as state Senate minority leader, Tisei voted with Republicans 100 percent of the time, Tisei’s response drew laughs when he pointed out that, “I was party leader, so I voted with myself 100 percent of the time.”
The debate, sponsored by Mass Inc.’s Commonwealth Magazine, was focused on the American dream and touched on a range of issues, including Medicare, education, taxes, health care, jobs, the economy, immigration and more.
The greatest threat to the American dream is “the increasing disparity of wealth and income,” said Tierney, who favors letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire for incomes above $250,000.
Tisei said raising taxes on anyone in this economy is unwise, and he would instead focus on building the economy, noting that there are 23 million unemployed and underemployed Americans.
“The problem is there are no jobs being created that can support middle-class families,” he said, later adding that “small businesses need the confidence to expand and grow.”
Tisei criticized a 2.3 percent excise tax on medical devices — an important industry in the state and the North Shore — which, he said, has led to local hiring freezes and layoffs and which Tierney voted for as part of the Affordable Care Act.
“(Senate candidate) Elizabeth Warren says it’s a terrible tax. (U.S. Reps.) Niki Tsongas and William Keating are against it. But our own congressman is steadfast in his support of that tax,” Tisei said. “Repealing it is the first thing I’ll do in Congress.”
Tierney countered that the Massachusetts delegation worked to cut the tax in half, and that medical device manufacturers agreed to the tax as part of the Affordable Care Act and the expectation of dramatic sales increases as a consequence of more insured people.