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DorobekInsider: Our issues amid the great debate

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Yes, the first debate was Friday night, of course — the most watched presidential debate ever with some 57 million viewers.

In my view, it was a refreshing break from the debate over lipstick and pigs — a very wonky affair of two smart people talking about what they would like to do for the future.

They did mention government issues a few times.

One was the issue of cost-plus contracts vs fixed-cost contracts.

Sen. John McCain argued that fixed-cost contracts are more cost efficient.

Here is what he said as transcribed by the NYT:

MCCAIN: Look, we, no matter what, we’ve got to cut spending. We have — as I said, we’ve let government get completely out of control.

Senator Obama has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate. It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.

The point — the point is — the point is, we need to examine every agency of government.

First of all, by the way, I’d eliminate ethanol subsidies. I oppose ethanol subsidies.

I think that we have to return — particularly in defense spending, which is the largest part of our appropriations — we have to do away with cost-plus contracts. We now have defense systems that the costs are completely out of control.

We tried to build a little ship called the Littoral Combat Ship that was supposed to cost $140 million, ended up costing $400 million, and we still haven’t done it.

So we need to have fixed-cost contracts. We need very badly to understand that defense spending is very important and vital, particularly in the new challenges we face in the world, but we have to get a lot of the cost overruns under control.

I know how to do that.

FCW’s Matthew Weigelt explains:

In a cost-plus contract, a vendor is paid for its total costs of doing the work plus an award fee if it meets specific performance objectives. In fixed-price contracts, vendors work for a fee agreed upon ahead of time, so their profit depends upon finishing the work in a reasonable time.

One other topic: The federal spending Web site, USAspending.gov. He mostly mentioned it in regard to his ability to work across party lines because the bill creating the site was co-sponsored with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma).

OBAMA: Not willing to give up the need to do it but there may be individual components that we can’t do. But John is right we have to make cuts. We right now give $15 billion every year as subsidies to private insurers under the Medicare system. Doesn’t work any better through the private insurers. They just skim off $15 billion. That was a give away and part of the reason is because lobbyists are able to shape how Medicare works.

They did it on the Medicaid prescription drug bill and we have to change the culture. Tom — or John mentioned me being wildly liberal. Mostly that’s just me opposing George Bush’s wrong headed policies since I’ve been in Congress but I think it is that it is also important to recognize I work with Tom Coburn, the most conservative, one of the most conservative Republicans who John already mentioned to set up what we call a Google for government saying we’ll list every dollar of federal spending to make sure that the taxpayer can take a look and see who, in fact, is promoting some of these spending projects that John’s been railing about.

Coming up Thursday — the VP debate.

Written by cdorobek

September 29, 2008 at 8:36 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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