Walz, Quist debate issues in Byron
By Janet Kubat Willette
Date Modified: 10/22/2012 3:00 PM
BYRON, Minn. — A football coach and wrestling coach sparred in a Congressional debate last week.
It was the first debate between Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat and former football coach, and former state Rep. Allen Quist, a Republican, and former wrestling coach.
It didn't take long for the attacks to start in the 90-minute debate held Sept. 27 at the Somerby Golf Club in Byron.
Quist said he learned the night before that Walz had reneged on having a third debate.
"Why is that important?" he asked. "Because Mr. Walz consistently says one thing and does another. When I sell 100,000 bushels of corn on a futures contract, I deliver 100,000 bushels of corn."
Walz responded by telling about how he built consensus to pass the Stock Act that bans members of Congress from making trades based on insider information. He also mentioned the Veterans Job Act, which would have trained veterans for jobs on public lands if it had passed the Senate. A House member needs to build consensus with 217 other lawmakers to pass a bill, he said.
"This country knows that the only way things work … the glue that holds a democracy together is compromise towards a common purpose," Walz said.
The two have entirely different views of the farm bill.
Walz has been an advocate of getting the bill passed before it expired on Sept. 30 and said he would continue to advocate for it.
"We worked on this for two years," he said.
The bill passed through the Senate — "Nothing passes the Senate, they couldn't agree it's Thursday over there," he quipped.
It also passed the House ag committee on a bipartisan 35-11 vote. However, Republican leadership refused to bring the bill to a vote on the House floor. Walz said it will likely be January or February before it's brought forward.
As a result of Congressional inaction, continuous Conservation Reserve Program signups have ended, he said.
The bill that passed the House ag committee saves $36 billion and moves toward a free market system of crop insurance and away from direct payments, which he criticized Quist for taking, calling him a hypocrite.
Quist said he has taken the farm payments, but don't criticize him, he didn't vote for the 2008 farm bill.
"He's the guy who voted for the bill. Who's the hypocrite when he's the guy who voted for the bill? Quist asked.
Quist said he advised Walz to take the farm bill, which he calls a food bill with a farm bill rider, back to the committee and produce a bill that could pass the House. Eighty percent of the bill goes to food stamp funding, he said.
He would not vote for the bill as it is now written because the food stamp portion isn't acceptable. The food stamp portion is more than doubling in spending and he has no way of knowing if the benefit is going to the right people. That part of the bill shouldn't pass and it won't pass, Quist said. He doesn't object to the 11 percent of the bill that is directed to farm bill spending and said if the two were split into a food bill and a farm bill, he would vote for the farm bill.
There's been a lot of good work done on the farm bill portion, he said.