BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Harping hard on issues and specifics in a televised debate, Dr. Howard Feinberg scored points Saturday in a 4th Congressional District Democratic Primary matchup with Boone County Judge-executive Ken Lucas.
Dr. Feinberg, a Russell osteopath and political neophyte, stuck to his standard stump speech of railing on Congress for "raiding" Social Security and other programs to help balance the general fund.
"I watched while our last Congress stole $118 billion out of Medicare, took $7 billion out of a trust fund set aside for our schoolchildren and put it in the general fund and called it deficit reduction, and then turned around and gave an $8 billion capital gains tax cut that went to the top 2 percent of the wageearners in the country," he said.
"Those things are wrong."
Dr. Feinberg also discussed specific plans to deal with education, including limiting class size to 18 students; Social Security; health care; and welfare reform, including providing child care to working single parents on welfare.
"We must provide a way for people to get off welfare, into the work force and yet still care for their families," he said.
Mr. Lucas was far more subdued than Dr. Feinberg during the half-hour debate and talked in more broad generalities.
"I support all of these initiatives to take care of our older population," Mr. Lucas said in response to a question about the Older Americans Act.
Several audience members said Dr. Feinberg won the debate. Mr. Lucas said the federal government must spend more on technology for schools and use the projected federal budget surplus of as much as $70 billion for Social Security, which he repeatedly called "a sacred trust."
Mr. Lucas made some direct hits on Dr. Feinberg, asking why he has only voted once in the last five years.
"Democracy only works if our citizens participate," Mr. Lucas said to Dr. Feinberg during a segment in which candidates asked each other questions.
Dr. Feinberg said he was treating patients on at least some of those days and could not make it to the polls.
"That's something that I very much regret. But I value human life and my patients' health above all else and, given the opportunity to make that decision again, I would choose to take care of my patients," he said.
Mr. Lucas also scored a blow on Dr. Feinberg for not signing a pledge to serve just three terms in Congress. Mr. Lucas signed the pledge last week.
Dr. Feinberg accused Mr. Lucas of running background checks on him and attacking his character.
And Mr. Lucas called Dr. Feinberg's proposal to cut $200 billion from Medicare and still improve services "a little naive . . . and simplistic."
The primary is May 26. The seat is open because incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Bunning, a Southgate Republican, is running for the U.S. Senate.
The debate was held at Northern Kentucky University and was sponsored by InterMedia cable, The Kentucky Enquirer and The Recorder Newspapers of Northern Kentucky.