Saturday, October 03, 2009

Joe Sestak was in town yesterday


Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-07) was at Wilkes Unversity in Wilkes-Barre yesterday and the first I heard about it was a message on Facebook from a student the night before. I've been bitching about the poor advance work of the Sestak campaign for months. Maybe I'm getting a big head but I think they should let the the local bloggers know when Joe will be in the neighborhood especially since we want to support him. One wag made the observation that he wants to be the Senator from MSNBC instead of Pennsylvania.
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Sestak is taking on party switcher Arlen Specter in the 2010 Democratic primary for US Senator from Pennsylvania. The President , Governor and the other Senator are backing Arlen after he realized that he couldn't win a Republican primary election against right wing darling Pat Toomey who came close to knocking him off in the 2004 Republican primary. In that election his biggest boosters were White House occupant George W Bush and our junior Senator from Virginia Rick Santorum who is now looking at running for President. There are many Democrats like me that have never voted for Specter and never will. Scottish Law, Anita Hill, single bullet, Ira Eichhorn the list is endless.
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Anyway, we have a report from Wilkes student Tony Thomas about Sestak's visit:
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On October 2nd Congressman Joe Sestak visited Wilkes University for an intimate town hall meeting with college students. Sestak spoke for about and hour and a half on the job market, economy, and his ideas for helping college students. Joe stated he supports investing 85 billion in small businesses through the Small Business Administration which he argues would improve economic recovery and help stem job losses.
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While in Congress Joe voted to increase the maximum for Pell Grants, he voted to increase eligibility for Pell Grants, he voted to increase unsubsidized Stafford Loans by $2,000. He also voted to give parents more time to repay those loans.
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Students and faculty were given the opportunity to ask Sestak his opinions on a variety of issues. Healthcare and the Public Option were the first issues that were brought up in questioning. “I got in Congress for his healthcare bill”, he told the audience. Sestak supports the House bill that mandates all Americans get health insurance or risk a fine for not doing so.
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As for the Public Option, Sestak said that he strongly supported it. His response was met with applause from the audience. He clarified that the plan would not be subsidized by the public, but would be paid for by money the insurance companies receive from premiums paid by the insured. Sestak said that the plan would save money because the government would not have to pay advertising costs and would not be paying tens of millions of dollars for a CEO to run it. Instead Sestak said that the government would have an individual similar to a Cabinet official run the program for a salary of around $200,000 dollars.
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Other questions were on the war in Afghanistan, gay marriage and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, marijuana legalization, and Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed bill.
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War in Afghanistan:
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Sestak acknowledged that the war in Afghanistan is a very difficult issue and he said that if the goal is to eradicate al-Qaida in Afghanistan and along the Pakistan border, then he does support continued efforts. However, if the goal is national building, he stated that he does not support continued efforts. He does support a timetable for withdrawal, but stated that there should not be a mandatory date as of yet to withdraw.
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Gay Marriage and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell:
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Sestak stated that he believes all Americans are equal. He highlighted his support for repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. Joe clarified that he believes marriage is up to a church, but he said that if a church wants to perform same-sex marriage they should be allowed to do so. On DADT, Sestak highlighted his 31 year career in the Navy and told the audience that he strongly supports repealing DADT. Joe stated that he believes that the Obama Administration must do something for equality by the end of the year and he suggested either ending DADT or DOMA.
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Marijuana Legalization:
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Sestak stated that he does not support legalizing marijuana even for taxing the substance. He suggested that perhaps a generation difference contributed to his opinion being different from the student who questioned him. Sestak did point out that he supports medicinal marijuana.
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Audit the Fed:
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Joe was asked about Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed bill and stated that he supports the bill 50%. He believes in transparency of government and accountability, but pointed out that a truly independent investigation is needed and he wants to avoid a political investigation of the Fed.
Joe concluded the event by thanking all those in attendance and said that he in this race for Pennsylvanians and not for political interest. He criticized Arlen Specter’s conversion to the Democratic Party and said that Specter is a flight-risk if elected. Sestak slammed Specter for putting politics above governing by highlighting when Harry Reid recessed the Senate so Specter could attend a fundraiser and not be criticized for missing votes. Sestak said that he would never put politics above his elected duties.
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Thanks to Tony for covering this event. I can't make it to everything so I am asking my readers to help me out. Please cover and write-up anything to do with local or state politics and send it to me. Maybe I should offer a prize like a tee shirt for being a front page guest poster on Gort42. The Mean Old Man will probably just shoot the thing with a shotgun.
The Rodney Dangerfield of this race is State Rep Bill Kortz. He gets no respect.

1 comment:

Josh said...

Hey man, I know this has been up for a while but I just saw it and wanted to let you know it was extremely helpful! Thank you!