Rivera supports the Medicare plan proposed by Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, which would restructure the program to give future seniors voucher-like “premium support” to buy private insurance. Those 55 and older would continue with the existing Medicare system. Garcia opposes that approach, instead favoring cutting down on “waste” in the program and beefing it up by passing comprehensive immigration reform to ensure undocumented workers pay into Medicare.
Garcia opposes oil drilling off Florida’s coast. Rivera says he favors deep-water drilling, but not drilling near the Keys — or off the coast of Cuba.
Both candidates have tried to court voters on the jobs issue, with Rivera touting his support and behind-the-scenes push for free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, which Congress approved last year. He has also campaigned on favoring a U.S. Constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.
Garcia, who broke with his party two years ago to support the agreements, has campaigned for federal funding for infrastructure projects, such as to repair Miami-Dade’s antiquated water and sewer pipes to help small businesses grow. His economic proposals, which he released only this week, have the same slogan as in 2010: “Joe is for Jobs.”
“Most problems are problems — they’re not Republican problems or Democratic problems,” said Garcia, a self-described pragmatist who lost a 2008 congressional bid against Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and a 1993 campaign for an open Miami-Dade County Commission seat.
Rivera, however, likes to note that the U.S. House will most likely remain in Republican hands.
“No Democrat ... will be able to achieve anything,” Rivera said. “I’ve actually been able to get things done.” On the campaign trail, he has repeatedly said that he has focused “like a laser beam” on constituent services and major issues in Congress, despite the scandals swirling around him.
But maintaining that focus can be difficult, as his rash of interviews this week showed.
As the congressman wrapped up a prime-time television interview on WJAN-Channel 41, known as América TeVe, the program’s host, Oscar Haza, reached across the table to shake Rivera’s hand.
Then Haza added, almost off-handedly, “Where is Ana Alliegro?”