Friday, March 26, 2010

PA-3: GCC Forum Coverage

Sadly, I missed the event - grad school called and I had to answer.

Here is some of the coverage via The Herald (Sharon, PA):

The candidates united in attacking Congress as out-of-control, promising to rein in spending and the scope of the federal government. They each knocked the health care reform law passed and signed this week and called for its repeal.

On the health care question, most candidates pushed for reforms espoused by the GOP, such as tort reform, letting customers buy insurance across state lines, and using tax-free health savings accounts.

Mike Kelly, 61, a Butler car dealership owner, billed himself as the “strong stomached” candidate and said someone has to stand up to people with no entitlement to health care and tell them that there just isn’t money for it.

He billed himself as the non-politician who can stick to his guns in Washington, D.C., and blamed the problems of Congress on politicians that have been sent there.

Dr. Martha Moore, 52, a Sandy Lake family practitioner, said health care costs would only go down with a “true free market,” where the government doesn’t prop things up.

Dr. Moore, who spoke a bit nervously, also said she believes in citizen politicians and term limits, pledging to limit herself to three.

Paul Huber, 65, a Meadville businessman, fielded a question from Dr. Moore on term limits, and also agreed to a three-term limit. Huber, who was registered as a Democrat until last spring, also had to answer whether or not he would switch back to being a Democrat once in Washington.

Huber said he should have changed his registration long ago, and his campaign donations reflect that. “My wife of 30 years, nearly every morning told me that. I finally took her advice,” he joked.

Huber has released a detailed economic recovery plan and he talked heavily on economic issues like cutting spending and taxes. When it was his turn to ask a question of another candidate, it was a detailed grilling on how to fix the economy.

Clayton W. Grabb, 48, a Butler pharmaceutical salesman, distanced himself from the other candidates in questions about when to compromise in Washington and what programs he would cut.

Most candidates emphasized that they would never compromise their values, but Grabb came across especially bold, saying he would only compromise on “the small things.”

“My goal in D.C. is to stand firm to my principles. There’s right and wrong. If something’s wrong, then it needs to be said it’s wrong.”

Most candidates said they would try to reduce welfare or repeal health care, but Grabb was the only to name a specific agency. He said he would cut the Department of Energy for its failure to create energy independence.

Ed Franz, 48, a Conneatville hourly worker at General Electric Corp. in Erie, emphasized his common man status and conservative bona fides. He came out most aggressively against Mrs. Dahlkemper, hitting her particularly on her health care reform vote.

“I’m pro-life,” Franz said. “I’ve been involved with the pro-life community for many years,” he said, citing marches and organizations. He said Mrs. Dahlkemper campaigned as a pro-life candidate and voted for a reform bill that “would actually allow taxpayer funding of abortion.”

Mrs. Dahlkemper campaigned as a “whole life” candidate who was also opposed to the death penalty and in favor of health care reform. She said she believes President Barack Obama’s executive order will prevent federal funding for abortions.

Franz said the executive order Obama signed to win over Mrs. Dahlkemper and other pro-life Democrats’ votes could be rescinded by Obama at any time.

“We as conservatives cannot afford to send any fakes to Washington, D.C., on the pro-life issue, as Kathy Dahlkemper has proven to be.”

Steven M. Fisher, 51, Cochranton, a health insurance salesman, talked about the need to bring down health care costs. He said he’s had clients in Mercer County who have spent $1.7 million or other, six-figure, amounts on treatments, and noted that some cancer drugs cost $50,000 a month.

High health care premiums, Fisher said, mirror high costs. Fixes like reducing mandates on insurance would companies help, but he said there is no solution from government or anywhere else unless costs come down. That would take measures like wellness incentives, he said.

He said the current measure fails to bring costs down in any sense. “This wasn’t health care reform, it was health care takeover, period.”

Fisher also said he would work hard to make sure that the 3rd District is seen as a district with seven counties in it instead of just Erie.

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