Hiral Tipirneni: A $1,200 tax reform bonus is “not going to cover anything”

PHOENIX — Congressional candidates Debbie Lesko and Hiral Tipirneni faced off in their first televised debate Sunday, locking horns on issues ranging from immigration to health care to tax reform.

Lesko, a Republican, was the first to speak. She introduced herself to viewers by highlighting her bipartisan record in the state legislature.

“I have a long history — 20 years — of being involved in the West Valley, and I have a strong track record of working with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done,” she said.

Tipirneni, a Democrat, meanwhile, painted herself as an outsider who can fix the problems facing Washington, D.C.

Both candidates were asked — in different ways — about their support (or lack thereof) for President Donald Trump. Lesko told the host that, while she doesn’t agree with everything that the president does or says, “our economy is doing good” and “consumers are very confident” under the new administration.

“I do think he’s followed through on his promises to the American people and he’s doing a good job,” Lesko said.

One of the promises she cited was the tax reform package that the president signed into law in 2017.

“A lot of our businesses have given raises to their employees, and I think that’s a really good thing,” Lesko said, adding that “businesses are booming” across Arizona as a result.

Tipirneni called the tax reform package “a Trojan horse” and disagreed with Lesko’s assessment that middle-class families benefited from the resulting tax relief and pay increases.

“If you have $1,200 back a year, that’s about $100 a month — and, with the increase in premiums and child care costs that most middle-class families are struggling with, that’s not going to cover anything.”

Many observers criticized Tipirneni’s dismissive claim — that $1,200 is “not going to cover anything” for families — as out-of-touch, citing her family’s significant wealth. The Democrat’s mountainside home, estimated to be worth more than $1 million, is outfitted with solar panels, a swimming pool, and a personal tennis court.

(Click Here To Watch The Exchange.)

Others compared the gaffe to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s characterization of workers’ $1,000-plus tax-reform bonuses as “crumbs.”

Asked whether she is a progressive Democrat or a moderate Democrat, Tipirneni responded that she is the latter. She described her position on immigration as being close to that of Senator John McCain but doubled-down on her opposition to the construction of a border wall between the United State and Mexico. She has called a border wall “not the answer.”

“The wall — although the idea makes us feel safe — we know that it’s not legitimately going to make us any safer,” the Democrat said during Sunday’s debate.

Lesko also criticized Tipirneni’s health care proposal, which she characterized as “a Bernie Sanders Medicare-for-all plan that both sides said would cost enormous amounts of money.”

“More government bureaucracy — really radical,” Lesko concluded. “Not a fit for this district at all.”


Laurie Roberts: Felecia Rotellini Is “Delusional” Over CD-8 “Pipedream”

PHOENIX — Laurie Roberts, the liberal writer known for her columns in the Arizona Republic, called the state Democratic Party’s chairwoman “delusional” Monday because of how much the time and energy the party is spending on Arizona’s eighth congressional district.

Felecia Rotellini, who served as an appointee of former Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano, was elected as the Arizona Democratic Party’s new chairwoman in January 2018. Since then, the state party has sent out several fundraising emails to supporters about its efforts to “flip” control of the seat from Republican to Democrat.

During an interview this weekend with CNN, Rotellini said of the open congressional seat: “I believe, bottom-line, we can win.”

That interview apparently prompted Roberts, whose columns almost always take a hostile position toward the Republican Party, to publish a response to the Democratic Party’s overflowing optimism about a seat widely considered safe in Republican hands.

“It’s official: Arizona’s Democrats have moved to fantasyland,” Roberts wrote. “How else can you explain the party’s top dog predicting that a Democrat will be replacing Trent Franks in Congress?”

She went on to wonder if Rotellini was “either delusional or it’s just a part of the job description that she’s required to promote this pipedream that Democrats can win in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.”

Rotellini was immediately mocked upon taking the new job as chairwoman after the state Democratic Party bragged that she would “rip all of the [Republican U.S. Senate] candidates to shreds.”

“Just like she ripped [Mark Brnovich] to shreds in 2014, right?” the Arizona Republican Party’s then-spokeswoman replied, referring to Rotellini’s state attorney general race. (Attorney General Brnovich took office in January 2015.)

The general election for the open congressional seat between Republican Debbie Lesko and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni is scheduled for April 24.

Tipirneni gave her first major interview of the general election on Sunday, when she criticized President Donald Trump’s immigration plan by saying, “The idea of a (border) wall is not going to make us safer.” She suggested that the funding for the wall could be better spent on other things, including “clean energy.”


Democrat Hiral Tipirneni: “The (border) wall is not the answer”

PHOENIX — Democratic congressional candidate Hiral Tipirneni slammed President Donald Trump’s border wall proposal Sunday evening and called for more regulations on gun owners during her first interview in the general election.

Tipirneni, who is running for the open U.S. House seat in Arizona’s eighth congressional district, appeared on 3TV’s “Politics Unplugged” to talk about her ongoing campaign and what she wants to accomplish in Washington, D.C., if elected.

Tipirneni and host Dennis Welch touched on several issues throughout the interview, including the administration’s trade policies — which the Democratic candidate dismissed as not “well thought-out” — and the country’s immigration system.

“I absolutely support a clean DREAM Act if possible but definitely that path to citizenship,” she said, defending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy implemented by President Barack Obama. “You know, it starts with temporary permanent residency and then permanent residency and then citizenship.”

Tipirneni contended that there is more Congress can do to secure the border between the U.S. and Mexico but argued that “the wall is not the answer … The idea of a wall is not going to make us safer.”

(WATCH: “The Wall Is Not The Answer”)

When pressed for details on her notion that the border wall funding should be directed elsewhere, the Democratic candidate responded that “clean energy” and “renewable energy sources” would be a better place to spend the money.

Debbie Lesko, the Republican nominee, took a different tune, calling DACA “totally unconstitutional” and saying that “what we have now is basically amnesty.”

“I agree with President Trump’s plan to secure the border because government’s number-one role is protecting its citizens,” Lesko, a former state senator, said. “I think we need to build the wall. We need to add more border agents. We need to end the chain migration.”

Welch then asked Tipirneni, the Democratic candidate, about her thoughts on the second amendment and whether Congress needs to take action on the issue. She responded that more gun regulations and stronger enforcement of existing regulations are needed, including “comprehensive background checks.”

“We need to make sure there’s that no-fly, no-buy policy in place,” Tipirneni said. “If you can’t fly on a plane because you’re a potential threat, you certainly shouldn’t be buying a gun. Making sure that people are properly registering their firearms and that they’re properly trained and properly storing them.”

Tipirneni also said that Congress needs to close “loopholes like gun shows and person-to-person sales and Internet sales.”

The special general election is on April 24.