In a thoroughly unsurprising development, the Bucks County Courier Times endorsed Pat Toomey for the U.S. Senate from PA today (here)…
For sure, (Joe) Sestak, a Delaware County congressman and retired admiral, is far to the left of Toomey. He has energetically supported President Obama’s initiatives on the economy and health care reform – and makes no apologies for that. He argues that the stimulus bills and the bailouts, vilified now as immense debt diggers, were necessary to stanch economic disaster and widespread unemployment.
Looking at the glass “half full” for a minute – when it comes to the bailout of GM, the company is now poised for an IPO and may actually turn a profit in the short term, as noted here (throwing “good money after good,” if you will).
A Harvard graduate, Sestak was equally supportive of health care reform, including a liberal-favored government-run public option that was not included in the final law.
I hate to break the news to the Courier Times, but Sestak voted against the public option, as noted here (see “Fun With Committee Votes”).
Toomey, a former Lehigh Valley congressman, would extend the cuts for all Americans and pay for them by cutting spending, including rescinding the unspent portion of federal stimulus money.
As noted here as of last July, “According to Recovery.gov, $55 billion of the unspent ARRA money comes in the form of tax benefits for middle class and working families.”
So, by saying he wants to reclaim “unspent funds” from the stimulus, what Toomey is really saying is that he wants to raise our taxes.
Continuing with the editorial, Toomey also says that he wants to “cap discretionary spending unrelated to national security”; as far as I’m concerned, that’s an extreme position when even a partisan like Senate Repug Bob Corker of Tennessee says here that defense cuts have to be “on the table.”
Also, I’m concerned that Toomey says he would “create competition among health care insurers,” which to me is more code in favor of allowing insurers to compete across state lines – it doesn’t make me happy to point out that a mechanism for this is already in place in HCR, as Ezra Klein tells us here…
(1) “Let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines.” This is a long-running debate between liberals and conservatives. Currently, states regulate insurers. Liberals feel that’s too weak and allows for too much variation, and they want federal regulation of insurers. Conservatives feel that states over-regulate insurers, and they want insurers to be able to cluster in the state with the least regulation and offer policies nationwide, much as credit card companies do today.
To the surprise and dismay of many liberals, the Senate health-care bill included a compromise with the conservative vision for insurance regulation. The relevant policy is in Section 1333, which allows the formation of interstate compacts. Under this provision, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho (for instance) could agree to allow insurers based in any of those states to sell plans in all of them. This prevents a race to the bottom, as Idaho has to be comfortable with Arizona’s regulations, and the policies have to have a minimum level of benefits (something that even Rep. Paul Ryan believes), but it’s a lot closer to the conservative ideal.
And of course, Toomey supports “tort reform”; as noted here, it was enacted in Ohio but hasn’t lowered rates (as if Toomey cares about that).
Oh, and Toomey of course supports privatization of Social Security, and the Courier Times editorial board is just ducky with that…what a shame that they apparently didn’t read the following letter in their own newspaper today (here)…
On the subject of Social Security, the president cannot direct the Social Security Administration to issue a COLA. The COLA is mandated by law using the Cost of Living Index for urban and clerical workers for the previous fiscal year.
If a COLA is not generated, then the law prohibits a COLA for the following year. Congress can change this by amending the law to consider the cost of living for seniors.
Those receiving Social Security were sent a $250 payment. This was requested by the president and Congress approved it with a vote. It was funded by the stimulus money. If you do not think you got this, check your bank statements for May or June. Some federal retirees got a tax credit and not a direct payment.
Social Security is solvent for the next 25 years. The money being paid covers the obligations so it is not adding to the deficit. The deficit is caused by unfunded spending, such as tax cuts with no corresponding cuts in spending, or two wars lasting a decade that included billions of dollars to rebuild the infrastructure in Iraq.
If workers are allowed to divert some of their Social Security payments to a private account, that will result in a loss of funding to Social Security; and as an obligation set by law the taxpayers will have to make up the loss, higher taxes, to provide the benefits to the beneficiaries. No one has considered this as the unintended consequence of “privatization.”
Fairless Hills, PA
Finally, Toomey supports reducing business tax rates – please watch Keith Olbermann’s report here (first video) and then try to tell me why I should give a fig about tax liability for corporations.
Meanwhile, to support someone who will actually support us (and time is short now, people), click here.