Sestak on deficits; Rendellis

For months now, Republican Pat Toomey has labeled Democrat Joe Sestak as a big-spending liberal who’s voted to explode the federal government’s deficit. The Senate nominee tried to turn the tables during an appearance in Harrisburg this afternoon.

In a speech to the Pennsylvania Press Club, Sestak said by voting for President Bush’s tax cuts and budgets, Toomey was “practically pro-deficit.” He added Toomey “wants more tax cuts for the top one percent that will add 650 billion dollars to the deficit. My opponent has a lot of theories about the economy, but controlling deficits is not one of them.”

In contrast, Sestak framed himself as a fiscal moderate who wants to balance the government’s books.

Toomey’s campaign manager, Mark Harris, countered Sestak’s speech was “laughable,” and accused the Democrat of having a “selective memory.” Harris pointed out Sestak voted for the 2008  financial bailout, the 2009 federal stimulus package, the health care overhaul, and other measures that have boosted the federal deficit. Sestak defends most of those votes as emergency measures aimed at keeping the economy from sinking into a depression.

Harris took the speech as a complement, suggesting Sestak has co-opted Republican talking points in the face of the harsh political climate Democrats are facing.

The federal government ran a 1.4 trillion dollar deficit during the 2009 fiscal year. If you’re as confused as I am over who ran up more deficits, check out this helpful chart from the Congressional Budget Office. Additionally, CBO recently published out an executive summary of how the deficit has ballooned in recent years, and where federal spending is headed over the coming decade.

In much less wonky news,  I asked Sestak after the event whether Governor Rendell had ever taken him up on his pre-primary offer of  a hatchet-burying lunch at WaWa. (After Governor Rendell told our Politics as Usual podcast Sestak had “no chance of winning” the contest, Sestak said he looked forward to eating a “Rendelli” with the governor.)

Sestak laughed, and asked the gaggle of a dozen reporters if he was being taped.


Mail call: Toomey edition

Here’s the latest press release from Team Toomey.

Toomey Calls on Sestak to Return Earmark-
Tainted Contributions and to

Sign the “No Pork” Pledge

Allentown, PA – Today, at a press conference at Independence Hall National Park, U.S. Senate candidate and former small business owner Pat Toomey called on his opponent, Congressman Joe Sestak, to return campaign contributions he took in violation of his own earmark pledge and to sign Citizens Against Government Waste’s “No Pork” pledge.

According to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, Joe Sestak made a pledge on his campaign website to return any contributions made to his campaign by people who requested and received earmarks through his congressional office.

His website reads: “If an organization or individual has made a request for an appropriations project, and has made a contribution to his campaign, he returns that contribution.”

But according to the same Inquirer article, Congressman Sestak violated his own pledge, taking $119,650 in contributions from people who received earmarks from him.  Today, Pat Toomey called on Congressman Sestak to live up to his pledge and return the $119,650.

Pat also called on Congressman Sestak to sign Citizens Against Government Waste’s No Pork pledge, which Pat has already signed.

Congressman Sestak has said multiple times that he supports earmark reform, but he has taken no demonstrable steps to put his words into action.  In fact, he continues to violate his own pledge to Pennsylvania taxpayers and has refused to get rid some of the most outrageous and wasteful earmarks in Congress, including:

$325,000 for the Institute for Seafood Studies in Thibodaux, Louisiana. (RC #382, 06/18/09)$250,000 for the Monroe County Farmer’s Market in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. (RC #631, 07/23/09)$150,000 for the restoration of Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, New York. (RC #472, 06/26/09)$100,000 for the Myrtle Beach Conference Center in South Carolina. (RC #567, 07/16/09)$1 million for potato research in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. (RC # 507, 07/09/09)$50,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in California. (RC #700, 06/24/07)$2 million to establish the “Rangel Center for Public Service” at City College of New York, requested by none other than Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). (RC #678, 07/19/07)

“How can Pennsylvanians trust Congressman Sestak when he says one thing and does another?” Toomey Communications Director Nachama Soloveichik asked.  “He promised to return earmark-related contributions, but he has yet to return $119,000 uncovered by the Philadelphia Inquirer.  He also promised to support earmark reform, but he has refused to sign a No Pork pledge and has voted to spend taxpayer dollars on wasteful projects like concert halls and the Mule and Packers Museum in California.  Now is the time for Congress Sestak to put his money where his mouth is.”

Toomey: Obama and Sestak are wrong on cap-and-trade

Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey says he’s strongly against federal cap-and-trade legislation.

Speaking at a Dauphin County coffee shop, Toomey warned the energy measure that passed the House last year would cause rates to skyrocket.

Toomey says even Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission is against the bill.

A PUC spokeswoman says Toomey is referring to a letter three commissioners sent to Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation last year, in which they urged lawmakers to vote against the measure.

Democrat Joe Sestak disagrees, and argues a shift toward renewable energy sources would grow Pennsylvania’s economy over the long term. Sestak voted for the cap-and-trade bill last June.

Many environmental advocates are urging President Obama to renew his support for a final energy bill during tomorrow night’s Oval Office speech.

During his recent appearance in Pittsburgh, Obama said a continued dependence on oil will “jeopardize [the United States’] national security…and smother [the] planet.”

Toomey: keep drilling

Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey says it would be a mistake to scale back domestic and off-shore oil drilling in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Toomey says the BP spill is a “huge disaster,” and the company needs to be held accountable – but he says the United States needs to ramp up, not scale back, domestic oil exploration over the next few decades.

Toomey says he’s not minimizing the impact – he’s just concerned federal officials will overreact to it. “Something went wrong here, and we’ve got to fix it,” he says. “If there were regulators that tolerated practices that are not safe, then we’ve got to change that. We’ve got to absolutely make sure this never happens again, but at this point I think it’s a little premature to say exactly how we do that, because I’m not sure it’s entirely clear exactly what went wrong. So we’ve got to get to the bottom of that first.” To that end, the Republican says President Obama’s offshore drilling moratorium might have gone too far.

Toomey’s opponent, Democrat Joe Sestak, says he’s against expanding offshore drilling’s footprint.

Sestak says he supports Obama’s moratorium, and wants to see regulations tightened before offshore oil exploration is allowed to resume. . “Congressman Toomey is saying there’s no need for accountability,” says Sestak. “Just drill. That’s wrong.”

Toomey jumps into Specter ad fray

Republican Pat Toomey has joined Joe Sestak in criticizing Senator Arlen Specter’s recent attack ad. Here’s the text of an open letter the likely GOP nominee sent to Specter’s Senate office.

April 23, 2010
Senator Arlen Specter
711 Hart Bldg
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Specter:
It is a clear matter of record that I have very strong disagreements with Congressman Joe Sestak on many important issues affecting the economy, health care, taxes, and even national security.  But I also have the utmost respect for his decades of military service to our country.  It is highly regrettable that you have chosen to disparage an honorable man’s military service in order to promote your own political career.
Over the years, you have developed a reputation for political attacks ads.  I had not even announced my candidacy last spring when you raced out of the blocks with an attack ad that was so wildly inaccurate it was quickly discredited by fact checkers and news organizations.  You will recall that your ad was characterized by FactCheck.Org as a “scorched-earth slip-up” and you were forced to remove it from the airwaves.
But now you have stooped to a new low, attacking Congressman Sestak’s thirty-year military service.  This is not only insulting to veterans across America who sacrifice so much to protect our nation, but to all Pennsylvanians.  Is there no low to which you will not stoop in an attempt to win an election?
Our state’s Democratic primary voters will decide whether they prefer you or Congressman Sestak as their nominee, and that is their right.  But it’s pretty clear that there will be two different races in the fall depending on their choice.  Joe Sestak and I have already engaged in two spirited, yet civil debates.  Pennsylvanians can rightly expect that we would continue in that manner, which is not only respectful to each other, but more importantly, respectful to voters.  If you become your new party’s nominee, then it appears that Pennsylvanians will be in for one outrageous or blatantly false attack ad after another.  Our state deserves better.
I hope you will do the right thing and remove your attack on Joe Sestak’s military service.  And I hope you will pledge to the citizens of our state that should you make it to the general election, you will cease your brand of negative advertising that the Pittsburgh Tribune Review called “embarrassing.”

Pat Toomey

Toomey raises $2.3 million

The first of many fund raising-related posts to come this week:

Pat Toomey’s campaign raised $2.3 million last quarter, according to information released this afternoon. The Republican Senate candidate now has about four million dollars in his warchest, as he prepares for a general election campaign against either Senator Arlen Specter or Congressman Joe Sestak. (Toomey is facing conservative activist Peg Luksik in the GOP primary, but is expected to easily cruise there.) PoliticsPA has the details, and the campaign press release is below.

Toomey Gains Momentum,

Raises $2.3 Million in First Quarter of 2010

Allentown, PA – In 2009, Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey raised more campaign funds than any Senate challenger candidate in the nation.  Today, the Toomey campaign is pleased to announce that it has begun 2010 with its most successful fundraising quarter to date, taking in $2.3 million in the months of January through March, and reaching over $4 million in cash-on-hand.

In the last quarter of 2009, Pat Toomey surpassed 30-year incumbent Senator Arlen Specter’s quarterly fundraising total.  In this first quarter of 2010, while Specter has so far not announced his numbers, Toomey has outraised long-time incumbents such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former presidential candidate John McCain. With over 40,000 individual donors, it is clear that voters are enthusiastic about Toomey’s candidacy.

In the last several months, Toomey has also been surging in the polls, leading both Specter and his Democratic primary opponent Congressman Joe Sestak in most publicly released polls.  As more and more Pennsylvanians rally to Toomey’s message of fiscal responsibility and political balance in Washington, they are simultaneously rejecting Arlen Specter’s blatant political opportunism and Washington careerism.

“I am very appreciative of the deluge of support I have received for my candidacy,” Mr. Toomey said.  “As I travel across the state, I meet more and more Pennsylvanians who want to join our campaign and help bring true change and fiscal sanity to Washington.  If I am elected to the U.S. Senate, I intend to do just that.”

Sestak and Toomey appear on Fox and Friends

It’s not often that I link to “Fox and Friends,” but Democrat Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey made a joint appearance on the show this morning, so here’s the video: