We spend a lot of time thinking about the presidential race, but we should remember that the House and its 435 seats are also on this November’s ballot. Here in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, the Democratics have an opportunity to capture the seat because their running a strong candidate with a great biography against first term Republican Ryan Costello who’s been committed to voting the GOP line since he got to DC. I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with Mike Parrish, Democrat for Congress and you can read all about his background and his stand on the issues. [Read more…]
However, this month his name was absent from the DCCC biennial Red to Blue program highlighting the congressional districts they hope to pick up and naming the candidates they have recruited.
PA-8 Candidates: Democratic challengers Shaughnessy Naughton and Kevin Strouse and Republican incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick.
Strouse’s campaign was dismissive of the importance of being dropped from the DCCC list. They told Philadelphia Jewish Voice that while the DCCC is not openly raising money for their campaign, they still “got a lot of support” in other ways. They suggested that staying on the list was an intricate process, and the campaign had concentrated instead on obtaining the signatures required to get on the ballot.
We have heard that the campaign needed to scramble to get sufficient signatures on time, since for most of the nomination period the Strouse campaign had circulated invalid petitions listing the address of Strouse’s future home in the district, which he is purchasing but in which he does not yet reside.
More after the jump.
Shaughnessy Naughton’s campaign manager, Josh Morrow, lamented Strouse’s unwillingness to engage with voters in the district on the issues.
Naughton has offered to debate Strouse, but until recently he has been only willing to meet her at two forums under rules that not only forbid video and audio recordings, but also were closed to the press and to the general voting public. The only people who were permitted to attend were the Democratic Committee members.
Naughton’s campaign staff said that she and Strouse have agreed on a debate next month.
One of the criteria by which the DCCC judges the viability of a candidate is their ability of fundraising, through their connections and local appeal. The DCCC can help in fundraising, but it does not want to be “carrying all the water” for a candidate. On April 15, all congressional candidates will report their first quarter figures. Perhaps those figures will shed light on why the DCCC has retreated from its support of Strouse.
The Strouse campaign expressed their hope that the DCCC would endorse them when the list is updated in May. Meanwhile, Josh Morrow summarized the state of the race in his interview with Politics PA:
The only way to beat [Fitzpatrick] and put us back on the path to prosperity for the middle class is with a candidate who knows this district as well as he does, who understands the issues that Bucks and Montgomery County residents face, and who presents a real contrast on the issues… Only one candidate in this race has said we should never allow fracking in the Delaware River Basin and only one candidate in this race has articulated a plan to save social security. That candidate is Shaughnessy Naughton.
PA-6: Parrish “Takes One for the Team”
Malvern businessman Michael Parrish was tapped as the DCCC choice in PA-6 last January, after 6-term Republican congressmen Jim Gerlach unexpectedly decided to not seek reelection. But like Strouse, he was left out of the Red to Blue list.
Last week, Parrish announced that he pulled out of the race against Manan Trivedi:
An expensive and contentious Democratic primary fight would seriously risk our party’s ability to win this seat in November. I am therefore suspending my campaign in order to join with Manan Trivedi to help ensure that a Democrat is elected.
The Philadelphia Inquirer cited praise for Parrish’s decision:
Trivedi said in a statement that he was “honored” to have Parrish’s support…
Former Rep. Patrick Murphy, of Bucks County, who knows Parrish through mutual military ties, said the former candidate made a “selfless” decision. “If we have a divisive primary, it’s going to hurt us in the fall,” said Murphy, a Democrat. “He thought he would take a step back and throw his support behind Manan.”
All of the other previous endorsed candidates remained on the DCCC list and they were joined by new endorsements. DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (Congressman NY-3) emphasized that for the first time in committee history, women make up more than 60% of the list. Locally, however, with Allyson Schwartz leaving Congress to run for Governor, Pennsylvania may have an all-male congressional delegation for the first time since 2001.
— by Michael Barrett
Montgomery County residents rallied for Gun Violence Prevention and urged swing-district Congressman Jim Gerlach (R PA-6) to cosponsor the “Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013” HR 1565 to keep guns out of dangerous hands.
The event was part of Organizing for Action’s statewide day of action called “Hands Across Pennsylvania.” At 12:30 residents joined hands to show solidarity in preventing gun violence.
Congressman Jim Gerlach has for years presented him self as a moderate when it comes to issues of reproductive rights. He sports a 70% rating from the National Right to Life Committee while his NARAL ranking has fallen from a quite tepid 10% to a frigid 0% over the course of his Congressional career. Gerlach has consistently voted for restricting abortion rights but also for federal funding for family planning lending a substantive basis for his claims of moderation, at least until now.
Every election year since 2006, Temple Beth Hillel Beth El’s Israel Advocacy Committee, Men’s Club and Sisterhood invite the Congressional Candidates for Pennsylvania’s 6th district to speak to the community, and this year was no exception. Incumbant Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach was followed by his Democratic challenger Dr. Manan Trivedi as they both addressed the crowd and took questions on a wide range of issues.
As was the case in the first debate between Gerlach and Trivedi, there was a small incident before the beginning of the event as the Gerlach campaign asked that the event not be filmed, and all recording equipment was removed. The second debate was televised and can be seen on the PCN website. This forum was not a debate format as the candidates appeared sequentially.
Both candidates spoke passionately of their support for the Jewish State. As a decorated veteran Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, Trivedi said
“I was ready to die for Israel because that is what allies do for each other.”
Both candidates were pessimistic about the current peace negotiations. Gerlach said he “saw no signs of a breakthrough there”. Trivedi blamed the Palestinian leadership “We need someone who can come to the negotiating table without preconditions.” Gerlach cited “Gaza’s extreme poverty and lack of educational opportunities which fosters hatred of Israel.” He added that the neighboring Arab countries could do something about the situation in Gaza but they are not interested.
More after the jump.
Trivedi cautioned that we should let Israel take the lead in the peace process. The United States he said “can facilitate, but should not take over” or “draw borderlines”, adding that he was “still waiting for a Palestinian Authority which can deliver on its promises.”
Trivedi spoke of his Indian heritage which gives him reason to be vigilant yet optimistic. His family and friends who were affected by the terrorist attack last year in Mumbai remind him of the danger posed by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and Hamas who Trivedi insisted we “cannot negotiate with”. Yet he also recalled lessons from his parents’ hometown in India. Ahmedabad was a city plagued by rioting between its Hindi and Muslim communities following the independence and partition of India in 1947, but the Indian government seeded economic development, and once everyone was more secure financially, suddenly they were less concerned with religious differences with their neighbors.
Gerlach responded to a hypothetical situation proposed by Steve Feldman (Director of the ZOA in Philadelphia) in which the administration were to impose a particular peace proposal by a fixed deadline. “Israel needs to make its own determination of what is a good agreement that it can sign on to. If Obama moves beyond that we can use the appropriations process – the power of the purse.”
“There is strong bipartisan support for the State of Israel, and I imagine this will continue.”
Both candidates praised the recently passed Iran sanctions. Gerlach was disappointed that Obama has not yet employed the full range of sanctions available. Trivedi concurred. He saw the Iranian sanctions were having a real effect, but he said we need to implement all of the available the sanctions as quickly as possible since “centrifuges do not wait for negotiations.” A questioner asked how he would respond to military action by Israel and Iran. Trivedi said all options have to be on the table including the military option, adding that
“The only thing worse than the military option is a nuclear Iran.”
The former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev recently warned that winning a war in Afghanistan is impossible. Gerlach was asked how he would vote on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Gerlach said “I would have to vote ‘no’ because I want to hear from General [David] Petraeus” who is reviewing the United States’ strategy in the region. Gerlach doubted whether Hamid Karzai’s government could stand long without our support.
Trivedi disagreed with Obama’s “surge” of 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan. “I do not think they will cure the ills of Afghanistan.” Trivedi added that he does not trust the Karzai government, and he lamented Obama’s failure to address the opium problem in his “surge speech” since the opium drug trade is endemic to many of the problems in Afghanistan and has corrupted the Karzai administration. Trivedi observed from his experience in Iraq:
“The Military has smart power: nurses, engineers, …
“We can facilitate nation building but we can not impose democracy. It has to well up from within.”
Party Loyalty and Extremism
Both candidates tried to distance themselves from the leadership of their parties.
Manan Trivedi said he did not support Obama’s support of Human Rights initiatives in Israel, applying the Nuclear Non-proliferation ban to Israel or Biden’s insistence of a housing freeze in Jerusalem. Trivedi criticized the implementation of the stimulus bill, disagreed with the surge in Afghanistan and felt that the health reform bill did not address costs.
I will take a good idea whether it comes from a tea party supporter or a left-winger or anything in between. We need a new breed of leaders who have no political chips to cash in.
Matt Hirsch asked Gerlach if there were any issues on which he disagreed with Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner. He cited several votes where he opposed the Bush administration: Overriding Bush’s veto of S-CHIP and supporting stem cell research. In fact, during Gerlach’s first three terms he built a moderate record by voting strategically: voting with his party when his vote was needed and voting with his moderate district when it was not. In this Congress, the Republicans have insisted of party discipline in order to avoid giving a hint of bipartisanship to legislation passed by the Democrats. Accordingly, the Philadelphia Jewish Voice followed up and asked for a more recent example where Gerlach opposed his leadership in the last two years. Gerlach said he supported his leadership on all of the major pieces of legislation: namely in opposing the stimulus package, health-insurance reform and cap-and-trade energy policy. Indeed Gerlach has been much more consistent lately in voting with his leadership though he did vote last July to extend unemployment benefits opposed by the Republican leadership.
Gerlach was also asked to comment on the impact of the tea party movement. Gerlach cited several local tea party groups who he said were “very engaged”. He praised them for “stepping up as citizens” and said “this is a good thing”.
Neither candidate eluded to alleged excesses in the tea party such as racism, rejection of principals such as civil rights or the Separation of Church and State, violence against Lauren Valle in Tennessee and the “citizens arrest” of a reporter in Alaska.
The 2001 and 2003 Bush taxes cuts expire at the end of this year. Unless Congress takes action during the lame-duck session or takes retroactive action next year, tax rates will revert to the levels they were at during the Reagan and Clinton administrations. For the richest Americans this would raise their marginal tax rate from 35.0% to 39.6%.
Jim Gerlach said that he along with the entire Republican caucus and “about 50 moderate Democrats” in the House of Representatives favor making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He doubted whether Pelosi would have the political strength to address this issue during the lame-duck session following the upcoming mid-term election. Gerlach also wanted to address the Alternative Minimum Tax which was never indexed and is catching more and more middle-class Americans.
Gerlach’s campaign was distributing “fact sheets” at the synagogue claiming that “Manan Trivedi opposes extending tax relief which will result in the largest tax increase in American history, roughly $2,000 per Pennsylvania family,” but in reality Trivedi “supports extending tax cuts for all but the über-wealthy.” Trevedi said we needed to return to the old rates only for the portion of taxable income exceeding $250,000 per year. Keeping those tax breaks would cost Americans 700 billion dollars which Trivedi said “we cannot afford.” Economists have observed that tax breaks focused on the richest 2% of Americans “will not stimulate the economy” since “we have a demand side problem not a supply side problem.”
The Federal Budget for the new fiscal year has not yet been passed so the government is acting under a Continuing Resolution until December 3. Gerlach doubted the new budget would be passed in the lame-duck session but was confident that another Continuing Resolution would be passed to avoid a government shutdown before the new Congress could act on the budget in January.
Gerlach said “the current deficit spending is 20% of gross domestic production whereas historical it has been around 18 to 19%.” In reality, the deficit was 9.91% at the end of last year and it will grow to 10.64% based on the proposed budget which is less than the figure Jim Gerlach cited but still well above deficits seen since the end of World War II.
To solve this problem, Gerlach intends to draw on his experience as a State legislator where the budget had to be balanced. “Only the Federal government does not have a balanced budget requirement”. Calling the current situation “unsustainable”, Gerlach called for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution with exception in times of war or other national emergency similar to that proposed in during the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration. Similar amendments failed to pass the House by the required two-thirds majority in 1982, 1997 and 2005. Once the amendment passes Congress, it would then have to be ratified by 38 states before going into effect.
Gerlach was asked specifically what he would cut in order to balance the budget since entitlements, the military and interest make up 84% of the budget. Gerlach said that all areas of spending have to be under consideration including Medicare and Social Security. Gerlach also pledged to look at defense spending as well.
Manan Trivedi countered that “we need to cut spending, but we need to do it with a surgical knife, not a sledgehammer.”
From Trivedi’s experience in the military, he agrees with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that we need to be more efficient and eliminate unneeded weapon systems. In Iraq, Trivedi saw contractors paid five times more to do half of the work of an enlisted serviceman.
Trivedi called Washington DC an “evidence-free zone” suggesting that by observation we can fund best-practices and drive costs down for a wide range of government programs.
Trivedi sees getting the economy back on track as critical to reestablishing fiscal discipline. Trivedi’s jobs plan will eliminate the 260 billion dollar loophole for companies that ship job oversees. His jobs plan features tax incentives for small businesses which he called “the motor of our economy.”
Trivedi emphasized stimulating sectors of the economy which have a ripple effect and will provide long-term benefits for the economy. One example was the clean energy economy. Trivedi said we should work on smart grid, wind turbine and solar power technologies. “We are not doing the things the Chinese are doing, and they are going to be the leaders” in green technology and not us if we do not step up to the plate. Similarly, Trivedi wants to invest in infrastructure such as tunnels, roads and light rail here in the Sixth Congressional District and around the country in order to provide jobs right now and continue to create jobs in the future.
Gerlach was asked if he would defund the Health-Insurance Reform which he voted against. He said he favored repealing the bill and replacing it with a new one without the “onerous new taxes.” (Gerlach did not explain how he would overcome the anticipated Presidential veto in order to repeal the bill.) Gerlach emphasized buying insurance across state-lines and working on tort reform as a way to drive down costs. He would also work to slow down and delay implementation of certain provision of the Health-Insurance Reform Bill. He did not expect an immediate solution, and expects this to remain an issue for next several administrations.
Trivedi looked at ease on the subject of Health Care and spoke with expertise not only as a battalion surgeon and as a primary care physician, but also as an expert on Health Policy. He received a Masters degree from UCLA in Health Policy and went on to serve as health policy advisor to the Navy Surgeon General and was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.
Gerlach’s handout claimed Trivedi supported a “socialized single-payer medicine scheme.” However, Trivedi denied the allegation.
Trivedi said the Health-Insurance Reform bill was not perfect: it did not address costs and it was too long, but he would have voted for it because it was a step in the right direction. He compared it to other pieces of landmark legislation (such as civil rights legislation which still left many people unable to vote). These bills aspire to historic change but need to be improved over time.
Trivedi rejected repealing the bill as a step in the wrong direction.
“It would cost millions of dollars when we need to balance the budget. This would reintroduce insurance companies into the doctor-patient relationship. This would eliminate guaranteed coverage for those with preexisting conditions.”
Trivedi gave one of his own patients as an example who was unable to obtain coverage even though she was cancer-free because her medical files mentioned the word “cancer”.
To contain costs, Trivedi said we need evidence-based health policy to help drive down costs since “30% of medical treatment makes no difference in outcomes.”
Temple Beth Hillel-Beth El’s Rabbi Neil Cooper asked Manan Trivedi about coverage for mental health. Trivedi answered that “mental health is part and parcel of health care.” He lamented that mental health care has been unfairly stigmatized for generations and as a result post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had not been treated as pro-actively as it should. During his work with the Navy’s Surgeon General, Trivedi drew on his own experience with combat medicine to become one of the early researchers to investigate the unique mental health issues affecting our troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Israel Action Committee chairman Lee Bender concluded the event by urging everyone to get out and vote next Tuesday.
Republican Congressman Equates Building the Park 51 Mosque with Fred Phelps’ Hate Group Picketing Funerals of American Servicemen and Descrating the American Flag
At last night’s debate, Main Line Reform Temple’s Rabbi David Straus asked Congressional Candidates Jim Gerlach (R) and Manan Trivedi (D) how they stood on the question of the whether the Park 51 Community Center and Mosque should be built in New York City on the site of a former Burlington Coat Factory story on a side street two and a half blocks from the site of the World Trade Center.
While Manan Trivedi thought this was an issue left for New Yorkers to decide, he said
I fought in Iraq to defend the Constitution, and one of the rights in the Constitution is for religious freedom, and that was what they were doing up in New York when they proposed to build that mosque. These are some of the rights that were in the Constitution, and that’s a principle I stand behind.”
As a Marine, Trivedi put himself in danger to protect those freedoms for all of us whether Jew, Christian, Hindi or Muslim.
On the other hand, Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach said that those who build such a mosque are just like Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps: Gerlach observes that one has the right to build a mosque, or show up at a military funeral desecrating the American flag and carrying signs such as “God hates fags”, “Thank God for dead soldiers”, “God hates Israel”, and “Jews killed Jesus”. However, Gerlach argues “Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.”
The Park 51 project calls for a “green certified building” to serve as a “center for multifaith dialog and engagement”. The Cordoba initiative leader and moderate Imam, Feisal Abdul-Rauf, has justly been recognized as a courageous and eloquent leader in improving relations between Islam and other faiths. In fact, he was Bush’s partner for Middle East peace and helped the FBI with its counter-terrorism efforts.
On the other hand, Fred Phelps and his extended family are engaging in hate speech. It is not at all clear whether anti-Gay, anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric spat in the face of the mourners of our fallen heros is guaranteed under the Constitution as “free speech”. In fact, the Supreme Court will soon be ruling on this case.
For those unfamiliar with Snyder v. Phelps, the backstory is as follows: Snyder was burying his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in a Humvee accident while stationed in Iraq. One thousand feet away stood members of the “church,” which protests just about everywhere, spreading the message of God’s hate for Matthew and his fellow soldiers as well as the entire world. They were carrying signs such as “Thank God for IEDs,” “Fags die, God laughs,” et cetera; Al Snyder said they also carried the sign “Matt in Hell.” In addition, they posted a poem on their website claiming that Snyder and his wife “raised [Matthew] for the devil,” taught him “to commit adultery” and that “God killed Matthew so that His servants would have an opportunity to preach His words. …”
Al Snyder, who became violently ill after reading this and watching the coverage of the protest later, filed a lawsuit claiming defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Snyder claims that this is not so much a free speech issue as a harassment issue. This is about deliberately engaging in psychological torture and, as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “exploiting a private family’s grief.”
Drawing any sort of equivalency between these two groups shows a lack of a clear moral compass on Gerlach’s part. Treating a moderate Imam as if he was one of the 9/11 terrorists instead of a key ally in our efforts to isolate the extremists in the Muslim community is unfair, racist, immoral and jeapordizes the security of our nation
Rabbi Straus continued with a question about the Tea Party. Trivedi said the group espoused “dangerous ideas for our country”, while Gerlach was appreciative of the efforts of the local Tea Party groups and considered them preferable to MoveOn.org which he denounced as a extreme left-wing organization.
Monday, October 4th, is an important deadline in Pennsylvania, because it’s the final day when you can register by mail to vote in this fall’s elections.
If you’ve had any change to your status or voting eligibility — whether you turned 18 since the last election, you’ve moved in the past couple of years, you’ve changed your name, or anything else — you’ll need to register with your new status. Click on the link in the upper right to register.
Also, circle Tuesday, October 12 on your calendar. Main Line Reform Temple will be holding a debate between the candidates in the 6th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Jim Gerlach and Democratic challenger Manan Trivedi.
Advisory for: September 2, 2010
Contact: Beverly Hahn 610-275-7665
Rep. Joe Sestak and Dr. Manan Trivedi Get “A” on Report Cards during Hands Off Social Security! Presentation
Promise to Oppose Benefit Cuts and Privatization Wins Grade from Local members of Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, Credo Action, Campaign for America’s Future, PennACTION, United Food and Commercial Workers – Local 1776, and SEIU; Pat Toomey and Rep. Gerlach Don’t Earn High Grades
On Thursday, September 2, 2010, local members of Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, and PennACTION are holding a Hands Off Social Security presentation in which they will deliver Social Security report cards to the U.S. Senatorial candidates in PA and the U.S. Congressional candidates in PA-6. Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak earned an “A” for opposing benefit cuts and privatization while his opponent Pat Toomey received an “F” for wanting to privatize Social Security. Dr. Manan Trivedi also earned an “A” for opposing benefit cuts and privatization while his opponent Rep. Jim Gerlach received an “Incomplete” for showing a lack of advocacy on this important issue.
Speakers at the press conference are:
Beverly Hahn, local member of Democracy for America
Linda Noble Topf, a counselor and author living with multiple sclerosis
Richard Pasquier, an assistant general counsel to a Fortune 500 company
John Meyerson, Political and Legislative Director, United Food and Commercial Workers #1776
Congress could vote on the future of Social Security this fall. Voters across the country are asking candidates and members of Congress to support a promise to oppose plans which would undermine Social Security which says:
“Social Security belongs to the people who have worked hard all their lives and contributed to it. Social Security is a promise that must not be broken. If you pay in, then you earn the right to benefits for yourself, your spouse and your dependent children when you retire, experience a severe disability, or die. We need to strengthen Social Security, not cut it. That is why I oppose any cuts to Social Security benefits, including increasing the retirement age. I also oppose any effort to privatize Social Security, in whole or in part.”
New polling shows massive public support for elected leaders who want to defend Social Security and are opposed to measures which would diminish it.
“We’re here today to recognize Rep. Joe Sestak and Dr. Manan Trivedi for wanting to fight to preserve Social Security and let them know that they will receive an “A” from voters this fall. Unfortunately, we are giving Pat Toomey and Rep. Jim Gerlach poor grades for refusing to promise to protect Social Security,” said Beverly Hahn. “Almost 20% of Pennsylvanians rely on Social Security including the elderly, disabled, and children. Weakening it is nothing short of morally bankrupt. Social Security has a substantial surplus, and anyone who suggests otherwise is misinformed or distorting the facts. Voters can choose this November to send to Washington those who are strongly committed to keeping Social Society safe or those who have either shown limp support or have pushed to dismantle it.”
|Dr. Manan Trivedi, Congressional candidate for the 6th district; Bonnie Squires, board member of Philadelphia Jewish Voice; and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.|
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz appeared on behalf of Dr. Manan Trivedi at a morning fundraiser in Merion at the new Town Hall Coffee Company coffee shop. Wasserman Schultz said that she was there because she and the Democraitc Congressional Campaign Comittee believe that Trivedi can topple Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach in the November election. Wasserman focused on the need to create jobs and support President Obama’s initiatives, something that her Republican colleagues have refused to do.
The Congresswoman and Lower Merion Democratic and Narberth Democratic Committee co-Chairs Jill Stein and Bill Leopold all turned to their Yiddish roots in search of a suitable words to express their praise for Dr. Manan Trivedi. Wasserman-Schultz recounted how Trivedi proved he was a real mensch when they first met at a Washington DC reception, and Trivedi used his skills as a physician and battalion medical commander to fix up her daughter’s injured foot before introducing himself to her as the candidate here in the 6th district.
She said she looks forward to being our Congresswoman when we retire to her Florida district twenty years from now. In the meantime, she looks forward to saying Mazel Tov to Trivedi on November 3 when he is elected our next Congressman.
Bill Leopold’s eloquent introduction follows the jump.
|Dr. Manan Trivedi, Congressional candidate; Bill Leoold, co-chair of the Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee; Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Joanne Fischer; and Jill Stein, co-chair Lower Merion-Narberth Democratic Committee, at the Trivedi fundraiser at the Town Hall Coffee Company.|
I want to provide a little bit of local history today, about what has happened since
Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District was gerrimandered by the Republicans in Harrisburg into the bizarre district it still is today. Even the Wikopedia still describes it as being in the shape of a pterodactyl!
In 2002, Dan Wofford ran against Jim Gerlach in a district fashioned specifically for Gerlach… and lost by the incredibly thin margin of 51.4 to 48.6 %. Lois Murphy then lost by two percent in 2004, and by only 1.2% in 2006, and Bob Roggio had a competitive race in 2006.
Now we come to 2010. Debbie Wasserman Shultz is here to support Dr. Manan Trivedi in his race. Like Dr Trivedi, she is a passionate advocate for health care. Her Awareness Requires Learning Young Act was included in the Affordable Healthcare Act for America signed in March 2010. It encourages national education about breast cancer. She was instrumental in passage of the Protect our Children Act, and in passage of the Virginia Graeme Pool & Spa Safety Act, to combat childhood drowning. Also like Manan, she is passionate about providing all needed resources for first responders and for our men and women in uniform.
Dr. Manan Trivedi listens as Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz discusses issues.
And now, as I introduce Manan, I get the right to embarrass him by a few personal words. Manan is personable and friendly while also also being firm and resolute. He is very sharp on all the issues but is actually able to speak in simple English sentences. He has served our country in uniform and learned valuable lessons from the experience. He is a physician and healer, who wants to use his knowledge to improve the system of care as we go forward with implementation of health care reform.
Finally, Manan, I want to provide you with education about a Yiddish word. The
word is mensch. It means “a nice guy,” and also means a person of integrity and honor. Quoting the great sage Leo Rosten in his book The Joys of Yiddish, the word means you are “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character, someone with character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you Manan Trivedi…a real mensch.
U.S. Congressman Joe Sestak (D) represents Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, which includes most of Delaware County, southwestern Montgomery County and eastern Chester County. In May of this year, Sestak defeated Sen. Arlen Specter in the U.S. Senate primary and will
face former congressman Pat Toomey (R PA-15) this November in the general election. The following are
excerpts from an interview by Charlie Smolover with Rep. Sestak held on July 19, 2009.
PJV: You’ve been criticized in ads recently about your position on Israel and Gaza, and about a talk you gave to the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Council on American Pennsylvania Islamic Relations in 2007. What is your response?
I have had the honor of visiting Israel many times. I’ve toured the country. Israel is a vital ally of the United States and when I was in the navy I would have gladly laid down my own life to
defend her. That’s how important she is to the security of our own country. When my carrier
battle group was ordered to the Persian Gulf from the Mediterranean, I left behind an Aegis
cruiser tied into Israel’s missile defense system to help defend her. When Israel was being
denied our new littoral combat ships, I met with Israel’s ambassador and her chief of naval
operations and then worked to get her those ships. When the Defense Department wanted to
cancel Israel’s Arrow missile defense system, I was able to delay that long enough to prove that
Israel’s missile was superior to what the U.S. was recommending. I still have my Never Again
Masada shirt that I got in Israel, and no candidate is more committed to her survival than I am.
As far as Gaza is concerned, I made a point of asserting that it is Hamas, not Israel, that is
oppressing the people of Gaza. But I did recommend that Israel ease its blockade of Gaza.
didn’t think it was helping make Israel more secure and it appears the Netanyahu government has
reached the same conclusion.
This issue with the CAIR speech is indicative, unfortunately, of how low the political debate as
become. I appeared at their dinner with other politicians, including Governor Rendell (D PA) and State
Senator Andy Dinniman (D-West Chester), both firm supporters of Israel. But before I agreed to speak, I consulted
a mentor of mine, Congressman Steve Israel (D-NY) for his advice. He gave me a copy of the
speech Elie Wiesel made to President Reagan in 1985 when Reagan agreed to visit the German
military cemetery at Bitburg. Wiesel did not mince words. He spoke truth to power and told
Reagan it was wrong to lay a wreath at that cemetery where SS troops were buried. I used that
speech as a model for my own speech to CAIR. And I told CAIR that if they had any hope of
improving relations between America and the Muslim world, they must clearly condemn, by
name, those Muslim organizations engaged in terror. That was my message to CAIR and I am
glad I had the opportunity to make it.
Democratic Party power brokers both nationally and in Pennsylvania appeared certain they
had all their ducks in row with respect to supporting Arlen Specter in the primary, yet your
victory over Specter was decisive. What does that say about the leadership of the party,
especially here in Pennsylvania?
What it says is that they were not listening. When I toured Pennsylvania during the campaign,
I could tell people were concerned, even scared. They were being devastated by the recession
and were also unclear about how healthcare reform was going to benefit them. They had no
idea what government meant any longer, what its role could be in their life. Public officials not
only failed to listen, they failed to explain how the stimulus bill and healthcare reform could
benefit them. They were too caught up in their own political calculations. Look, Pennsylvanians
have a lot of common sense. They can tell when something is broken and they want it fixed.
No politician should have been surprised at those town halls where people could barely contain
their frustration. They wanted to hear clear, pragmatic information about how we can move our
country forward. And that is the message I stuck to throughout the campaign, talking in pragmatic
terms about what was broken and how it could be fixed.
Many political observers cited one particular TV spot, the one showing Specter taking
about wanting to keep his job, as instrumental to your victory.
It was not a decisive as some would like to believe. I was closing the polling gap between us
before that ad ran. It was actually an earlier ad, a biographical ad designed to introduce me to
voters, that started the trend. A poll taken right after the Specter ad ran showed us in a statistical
dead heat. We continued to build on that trend, making appearances everywhere we could,
making 14,000 calls a day. It’s that kind of hard work that really wins campaigns.
If most of the money made available to banks through the TARP program has been
paid back, and if most economists are right in saying the law helped prevent a complete
breakdown of our financial system, why are so many politicians running for office loathe to
even mention it, let alone defend it?
I’m not backing away from my support of that legislation. I would do it again if necessary. I didn’t
vote for it because it was liberal or conservative. I vote for it because it was needed. You have
to remember that no one was lending any money. The LIBOR rate shot up seven percent. We
were facing an economic meltdown. Again, it’s about responding pragmatically to the state of our
economy and doing what we need to do to fix it.
Your opponent in November, Pat Toomey, is likely to accuse you of supporting “bank
bailouts.” How will you respond?
Pat Toomey left Wall Street, where he made a fortune, for Capitol Hill. There he wrote the
legislation to repeal Glass-Steagall Act and voted for other legislation that effectively removed
the rules governing Wall Street. So after helping to triple our national debt he leaves Congress
to lead the Club For Growth, which continues to fight against the kind of regulations we need to
reign in Wall Street excesses, leaving us to caulk the leaks to keep our economy from sinking.
Having torpedoed our economy, Congressman Toomey has no right to criticize those who tried
to prevent the economic disaster he and his GOP colleagues enabled through eight years of fiscal
irresponsibility. And the lack of accountability for the damage that was done is inexcusable. But
criticize is all he can do because he has no record to stand on.
President Obama appointed a deficit reduction commission that is scheduled to make
its recommendations later this year. In the meantime, Congressmen Barney Frank
and Ron Paul have been arguing that deficit reduction must include cuts in defense
spending. As a retired admiral, do you think we need eleven carrier battles groups? Do
we still need troops in Europe to defend against a Warsaw Pact that no longer exists?
We don’t. And the answer is improving our ability to interconnect our military assets. That
has not been pursued as vigorously as it should be. Our common link isn’t the sea anymore, it’s
cyberspace. I’m talking about scenarios where a soldier or sailor looks through binoculars
to identify a target and then blinks his eye to send the coordinates to a satellite. That data is
instantly relayed to missile which is launched to destroy the target. Make no mistake, we live in a
dangerous world and we need a military that is capable of defending us. My point is that we can
have a military which is more effective and efficient if we make investments in the technologies
that we need to fight in the 21st century.
It’s been said that the passing of Senators Byrd and Kennedy marks the end of an era of
civility in the senate. Why have politics become so toxic?
Party leaders need to recognize that the “I win, you lose” way of doing business in Washington
today is sapping our government of its integrity. A key moment may well have been the way
Newt Gingrich (R-GA) went after Jim Wright (D-TX) in 1989. The book, The Ambition and the Power: The
Fall of Jim Wright is worth reading. The issue is not whether (former Speaker of the House)
Wright was guilty of ethics violations, but how he was vilified in such a personal and partisan
way. I talked to people who appear in that book. They said that before the Wright episode there
were certainly fierce battles in congress, but they didn’t have the caustic, Hatfield vs. McCoys
animosity that you see today. As a result, the American people have become cynical and the
politicians, in turn, have become even more cynical. Instead of creating pragmatic solutions to
problems that we all recognize, we just try to make the other guy wrong. I think the Tea Party is
partly a reaction to that, and that’s why I don’t put don’t put them down. They’re just people who
want to be heard.