Lucas-Feinberg debate: Past vs. promise

Wednesday, May 20, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISVILLE -- Ken Lucas played on his past while Dr. Howard Feinberg touted his plans during a 4th District congressional Democratic primary debate televised statewide Tuesday.

With less than a week until the primary Tuesday, Mr. Lucas aggressively talked about his own record while dismissing his opponent's platform as "simplistic" and "naive."

"This is actually a race about performance vs. promises," said Mr. Lucas, the two-term Boone County judge-executive and a longtime community, political and business leader in Northern Kentucky.

"My opponent talks about (issues)," he said. "I have lived them."

Mr. Lucas talked about:

  • How he helped found and oversee Northern Kentucky University during 23 years on the university's board.

  • How he helped bring 24,000 jobs and $2 billion in business investments to Northern Kentucky as a founding member of the Tri-County Economic Development Corp., a public - private corporation that works to bring jobs and businesses to the region.

  • His work on community-oriented groups such as the United Way, Florence Christian Services -- which builds senior citizens housing -- and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

    "I have talked about performance; he talks about promises," Mr. Lucas said.

    Dr. Feinberg, who has never held elected office, tried to characterize Mr. Lucas as a career politician who is out of touch with solutions to problems facing the nation.

    "In my campaign, we don't talk about platitudes and rhetoric," he said. "We talk about real answers to real problems, and we have real solutions."

    Mr. Lucas noted that Dr. Feinberg has not agreed to self-imposed term limits of six years in Congress, as Mr. Lucas has.

    Dr. Feinberg, a Russell, Ky., osteopath, called health-care reform the most important issue in the race. He pushed his plan to save $200 billion "in the federal budget by adding preventive care services and allowing patients' freedom of choice.'

    "Do you have a real solution for the health-care crisis in our country?" Dr. Feinberg asked Mr. Lucas during a portion of the 30-minute debate when the candidates asked each other questions. Dr. Feinberg's plan to increase services and reduce cost "is a bit simplistic and a bit naive," Mr. Lucas said.

    "You have all these plans, and you come up with all this election rhetoric," Mr. Lucas said. "As a matter of reality, leadership in politics is forming coalitions, taking things you feel strongly about and working with other people and listening to your constituents . . . where you can build a plan to get things passed."

    "Once again," Dr. Feinberg said, "No answers to the problem. Just, "You can't do it, so it can't be done."'

    "I watched while our last Congress stole $118 billion from Medicare," Dr. Feinberg said, "and told all our senior citizens they were going to have to pay another $25 a month out of their Social Security checks to get their Medicare benefits.

    "(Congress) took a $7 billion trust fund set aside for telecommunications equipment for our public schools, put it in the general fund and called that deficit reduction," he said.

    "Well, that's not deficit reduction. That's not health care reform. That's cheating our schoolkids; that's cheating our senior citizens," Dr. Feinberg said. "I have a plan to improve Medicare, to save Social Security and to protect our public schools."

    Mr. Lucas said the top issue in the race is "job development and education, because, if we have good education and good job opportunities for our people, everything else tends to solve itself."

    He said the success of Northern Kentucky's job creation can be replicated in other parts of the 22-county 4th District, which stretches from Ashland to Oldham County and includes all of Northern Kentucky.

    But Dr. Feinberg countered by saying that what worked in Northern Kentucky wouldn't work in Ashland or other parts of the district because Northern Kentucky has infrastructure other areas lack.

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