Levin, Hoogendyk opine differently about Wall Street bailout

During an hour-long debate at WGVU-TV that aired live Sunday, on Public Broadcast Stations, Democratic US Senator Carl Levin and his Republican challenger, Jack Hoogendyk, reflected their sharp differences on most matters – the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, the Iraq war, taxes, global warming, federal earmarks and health insurance.

Democrat Levin, 74, is heavily favored to win another six-year term in the Senate; while Hoogendyk, 53, is a member of the Michigan House, although term limits will force him out at the end of the year.

The duo is scheduled to meet again Monday for a final debate before the Detroit Economic Club.

Levin, who chairs the US Senate Armed Services Committee, defended his push for much-maligned federal earmarks to pay for federal projects in Michigan. Regarding his voting for the rescue package, he said: “Our economy was going over a cliff and something needed to be done.”

Hoogendyk said he would have voted against it. “This was bad legislation.... We have bailed out fat cats,” said the State Representative, who added that a better solution would have been a reduction in the corporate tax rate from its current 35 percent to 12 percent.

Levin, one of the most liberal members of the Senate, has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration. He voted against the Bush tax cuts in the president’s first term. And he also voted against authorizing the U.S. to go to war with Iraq.

Meanwhile, Hoogendyk points with pride to his record of never voting in a favor of a tax increase during his six years in office. “I believe in empowerment, not entitlement,” he said, after calling for lower taxes, the elimination of the US Dept. of Education and cuts in corporate taxes.

Hoogendyk is considered one of the most conservative members of the Legislature, and his candidacy has been viewed as quixotic against the far-better funded and venerable Levin.