- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren fought Wednesday over who would be better at creating jobs, cutting taxes, holding down the federal deficit and protecting Medicare during their third debate in Massachusetts’ closely-watched Senate race.

The meeting at Springfield’s Symphony Hall stuck mainly to the issues and steered clear of much of the personal sniping between the candidates that has marked the campaign to date.

A recurring theme in the debate was Warren’s assertion that Brown was protecting millionaires at the expense of average Americans, countered by Brown’s insistence that any increase in taxes would hurt the economy.

Warren supports allowing Bush-era tax cuts to expire on Dec. 31 for the wealthiest two percent of taxpayers, as part of what she called a balanced approach to erasing the federal deficit. Brown believes the cuts should be continued for all taxpayers and that tougher spending controls are needed.

Warren began the debate by faulting Brown for voting against a series of Democratic-sponsored jobs bills, while also noting Brown has vowed to repeal the 2010 federal Affordable Care Act if re-elected.

Supporters of Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren hold signs outside Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass., Wednesday Oct. 10, 2012, prior to their third debate. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Supporters of Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren ... more >

Brown cited higher taxes as the reason he opposed the jobs bills and said that while he supported Massachusetts’ landmark health care bill, he opposes the federal version because it also included tax increases.

Brown referred to what he called “Obamacare” as a “jobs crushing bill” and warned seniors that it would cut Medicare spending by nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars. Warren said the law would not cut benefits by “one penny.”

Warren also criticized Brown for opposing the so-called Buffett rule, which would require those earning $1 million a year or more to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.

Senator Brown voted with the billionaires, not with the secretaries,” said Warren, who also criticized Brown for signing conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist’s no-new-tax pledge.

Brown said there needs to be a “top-to-bottom review” of the federal tax code rather than a reliance on additional tax increases.

“I’m not going to be raising taxes on anyone in Massachusetts or anyone in the United States,” Brown said, who also warned that taking away oil subsidies could push up the cost of gas at the pump.

On women’s issues, Warren said she would be the stronger of the two.

Warren faulted Brown for supporting an amendment, which was defeated, that would have let employers or health insurers deny coverage for services they say violate their moral or religious beliefs, including birth control.

She also criticized Brown for voting “against a pro-choice woman from Massachusetts to the U.S. Supreme Court” — a reference to Elena Kagan.

“I want to go to Washington to be there for all of our daughters and all of granddaughters,” Warren said.

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