Sunday, October 03, 2010

Debate for 8th Congressional District at Shir Ami

8th congressional district debate between Mike Fitzpatrick and Patrick Murphy
Shir Ami Synagogue
October 3, 2010

Usually I put personal comments at the end of event notes. but since this is so long I’ll put them at the front. The crowd was rowdy and had to be repeatedly admonished by the moderator to quiet down. In places the audience noise was sufficiently loud that I couldn’t clearly hear something. In those cases a note about that is missing or what I thought I heard is in brackets – those are blogger’s notes.

Standard disclaimer: These are rough notes taken by hand. It is not intended as a full transcription and while an attempt is made at accuracy, I cannot guarantee it. I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

A PCN camera was there so hopefully in the near future this will be broadcast on PCN and perhaps put on their website so voters can see and hear for themselves what was said.

President of the synagogue’s men’s club welcomes everyone and thanks those who helped plan and arrange the event.

Moderator will be Jody Bender, who is on the board of the Philadelphia League of Women Voters, but does not live in the 8th district.

The time keeper is Judy Clark of the Bucks County chapter of the LWV.

She introduces the candidates and asks the audience to behave in a civil manner.
Congressman Patrick Murphy is an Iraq War veteran and law professor who has represented the district since 2006.

Mike Fitzpatrick is a former Bucks Commissioner and former congressman.

The LWV is a non-partisan group and does not endorse candidates.

Candidates will give opening and closing statements (order decided by a coin toss). They will alternate answering questions and then each have a chance to rebut. [There are set times for this but I missed what they were.]

Opening statements.

MF: Thanks and greetings. Elections are about choices. PM believes that we can spend our way to prosperity and borrow our way to [missed word]. [something about the stimulus.]

PM: Thanks and greetings. I served our country in uniform and proud to serve as a congressman. I brought 3,000 jobs to the district. My opponent had his chance. MF gave his vote to the Bush administration and Wall St.

Q1: If elected what would your top 3 priorities be?

PM: jobs, jobs, and jobs. I have focused on that. We need to get back to making things, not just a service economy. [References companies such as Lockheed, a company that makes flight simulators and another in green energy. I did not catch their names.] We cannot turn back to outsourcing. We need to do more because people are hurting.

MF: jobs. When PM took office unemployment was at 4.65, it is now almost 10%. Lockheed came when I was a county commissioner. Must have experience. Jobs are created by businessmen not DC politicians.

PM: You can't complain about unemployment when you voted to outsource jobs.

MF: Jobs are the issue, balancing the budget, paying off the debt -- it is a moral imperative.

Q2: Programs you support or oppose in reference to jobs

MF: Companies need two things: certainty regarding tax rates and certainty regarding health insurance costs. The health care reform bill is a jobs killer. Congress adjourned without addressing tax rates.

PM: We need to create things in America. When MF had the chance, he looked people in the eye and said he wouldn't support CAFTA then flipped and voted for it. Hurts our middle class families.

MF: Trade deficits since CAFTA went from trade deficits to trade surplus. There is too much regulation, litigation and taxation.

PM: [did not catch name] worked at Jones New York. CAFTA lost those jobs. Tax incentives and ???? [MF interrupts.]

Q3: value of homes falling

PM: People are hurting. I want to work with people to do things like extending a 20 year mortgage to 30 years. Wall St. playing Russian roulette with housing. When MF was in congress he was on the committee to oversee Wall St. We need regulation.

MF: The Community Reinvestment Act caused some problems, forced banks to make loans they knew were bad loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. PM in favor of bill supported by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. left Fannie and Freddie out. Get gov't out of the way.

PM: When you hear "get out of the way" it means let Wall St. get away with murder.

MF: [cedes 30 second response time]

Q4: globalization -- jobs outsourced

MF: We do need to recognize that we live in a global economy. We don't compete with NJ and MD but with India and the Far East. Should the federal govt try to bring jobs back? Private industries have to bring them back. Corporate tax and regulation and litigation are preventing jobs from coming back.

PM: We need to close tax loopholes that incentivize outsourcing. At old steel mill plant there are now green energy companies. solar panel manufacturers and wind turbines company. large solar panel area. wind energy. [starts Wayne Gretzky story but time runs out.]

MF: In favor of incentives but want to avoid having feds incentivize some industries over others. Want to avoid having foreign companies coming here on tax free land and then laying off American workers.

PM: When I played hockey I remember hearing that Wayne Gretzky was a great player because he figured out where the puck was going to be and went there. We need to anticipate what the new jobs will be.

Q5: national debt

PM: I cosponsored a bill to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget. I voted against two govt budgets. I worked with Republican congressmen to cut Medicare abuse. Worked with a Republican congressman to pass the improper payments act. It won't solve all our problems but help. When MF in Congress he did not cosponser any bill to cut spending.

MF: When I was in Congress the budget deficit was going down not up. The annual deficit has gone up since PM has been in Congress.

PM: MF had no problem spending on the Iraq War. Never voted against a budget. I fell like the clean up crew after an Eagles game.

MF: [cedes 30 second response time.]

Q6: extend tax cuts and estate tax?

MF: I am opposed to the federal estate tax. Congress failed to act to extend the end of the estate tax so at the stroke of midnight it will go from 0 to 55%. Job crushing taxes. I would extend all tax cuts.

PM: Estate tax -- we need to protect family farms. Extend tax cuts for 98% of the people, but not for millionaires during a time of war. MF wants to fight for Paris Hilton's tax breaks. You can't lower the deficit and lower taxes.

MF: Unemployment is at 9.6% because they want to faise taxes on job creators. PM never took on the party leadership over family farms. I was the 2nd most independent congressman. He doesn't fight his leadership.

PM: MF continues to fight for Paris Hilton's [interruptions, couldn't hear]

Q7: social security

PM: I don't want to privatize it. MF want to privatize. Stop raiding trust fund and make sure it is solvent.

MF: We're all for protecting seniors and social security. This was the first time in 20 years there was no cost of living increase in social security. I'm against privatizing social security. Need to get people back to work.

PM: MF quoted in the local paper 4 times saying he was in favor of privatizing social security. We do need to grow the economy but not by outsourcing jobs.

MF: Those jobs were lost under your watch. Rising tide lifts all ships. Shore up entitlement programs. Obamacare -- we have to pay for it.

Q8: Health care reform

MF: I am opposed to it and said so in March. PM refused to have face to face townhall meetings. He said it would guarantee four things: deficit neutral, keep your policy if you like it, rates won't rise [missed 4th thing]. They are all wrong. I'm against the bill. We need to allow people to purchase health care across state lines. We need real reform.

PM: It won't add to the deficit. In the paper today. Easiest thing to do in DC is to say no. I took an oath to represent all in the 8th district, not just Democrats. MF wants to go back to discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions, against allowing parents to keep children on their policy until age 26, against closing donut hole.

MF: Giving $250.00 to seniors vs. trillions of dollars in debt to our grandchildren. We need to get back tot he federal government only creating programs to end problems.

PM: The Clinton years created jobs, the Bush years lost jobs. Bush allowed pay go, which means you pay as you go, to expire. He talks about it. I've done it.

Q9: cost of health care reform

PM: Medicare is now strengthened under hcr and closes donut hole. MF wants to reopen it. CEOS in the paper say bill is deficit neutral.

MF: Only one way to pay for it -- steal $550 million from Medicare and then start raising taxes, including a real estate tax. Nothing in the bill will make us healthier or reduce costs.

PM: This election is a choice. Go back to discriminating based on pre-existing conditions, and a donut hole for seniors that costs them $4,000 per year for prescriptions. I support the new bill.

MF: I am for covering pre-existing conditions. We need to take health insurance portable. Need health care liability reform. Doctors practice defensive medicine.

Q10: Supreme Court's Citizens United decision

MF: People who live in the district should have more say. I suggest we cap campaign spending on this race at $1 million each. He said no. He will spend millions from out of state on tv ads. Congress passed a bill on campaign spending that left out trade unions.

PM: I thought the Supreme Court decision was a travesty. Corporations are not people. MF spent millions in 2006 attacking my military record. People may not agree with me but when I say something, that's my word and my bond.

MF: Still nothing on my statement on spending only a million. Should unions be included?

PM: I still want you to give back CAFTA money.

Q11: open govt

PM: Transparency in political campaigns and govt spending. There is a new rule on earmarks. I have to sign an affadavit that I don't have any financial interests in companies. The first bill MF signed was to help Tom DeLay.

MF: Earmarks doubled from this year to last year. Disclosure of spending and earmark. Commend PM on that. PM only PA congressional that refused to disclose earmarks when requested the year before the new rule passed.

PM: MF doesn't want to talk about Tom DeLay.

[someone leaves shouting]

MF: Absolutely in favor of transparency. No scandal in the county when I was a commissioner. Obama bringing in lobbyists in the back door.

PM: I called on Charlie Rangel to resign from Congress. Challenged my own party.

Q12: escalating partisanship

MF: To change the direction and tenor of Congress we need to change the people in Congress. PM talks about DeLay and Rangel. The problem is that people are there too long. We need term limits. If elected I will promise to serve three terms and no more.

PM. My wife is a Republican. People are hungry for leadership. I've done that in Congress for 3.5 years. I've partnered with Republicans on improper payments act, Scrap the Map, and other legislation.

MF: Talk is cheap. He voted with party leadership over 90% of the time. I was the second most independent member of Congress.

PM: When my party is right I vote with them. When they're wrong I vote against them. I was the only Democrat to vote against the lawsuit over the Arizona immigration legislation.

Q13: What should the fed govt do to improve education?

PM: I attended Archbishop [missed name] High School, Bucks County Community College and then a Catholic college, King's College. I taught at West Point. We need accountability in the classroom. We need to empower teachers. No Child Left Behind means teach to the test and leave the money behind.

MF: My wife is a high school science teacher. The role of the federal govt can be that of a leader, set standards and get out of the way. Let school boards make decisions on things like what to serve for lunch. Fully fund schools.

PM: Part of that is to make sure they have jobs when they graduate. Partner with Bucks County Community College for green jobs academy.

MF: I have two daughters in college. One graduated with a nursing degree. We used to have a nursing shortage now hospitals are laying them off. The unemployment rate for recent graduates is nearly 50%.

Q14: BP, off shore drilling, marcellus shale

MF: energy independence is important and needs discussion. We need to identify energy sources and go after them. In favor of off shore drilling and drilling for natural gas and also nuclear energy. We need 100 new nuclear energy plants in [missed this number] years.

PM: We need to create energy in our country. Drill off shore and in marcellus shale responsibly. Also invest in wind, solar, geothermal and nuclear. When the Republicans had the presidency, House and the Senate, how many nuclear plants did they build? [zero?]. In the last 14 months we have 2.

MF: [cedes follow up]

Q15: Arizona immigration bill

PM: I support it but not racial profiling. I was the only Democrat to support what Arizona is doing. Why are immigrants coming here? Jobs. They are paid under the table. Passed e-verify. Put 20 more miles on the border fence. MF voted with Nancy Pelosi to create sanctuary cities.

MF: I support Arizona law Sb 1070. State has to do the feds job. Voted for identical law when in Congress. PM early back of Obama -- he needs to talk with him about immigration.

PM: People in Bucks County voted for Obama. DId put troops on border.

MF: [cedes follow up]

Q16: Mid-East conflict

MF: American needs to continue leadership. In favor of 2 state solution. Hamas Palestine does not recognize Israel [not sure I got this right]. Need to be careful and not create deadlines.

PM: Israel has the right to defend herself. Biggest threat is Iran. Ensured we had tough sanctions against Iran. First time in 10 years we got other countries on board. Must make sure Iran doesn’t get nuclear weapons.

MF: peace process. 2 state solution. Only so much we can ask of each side.

PM: Continue to work with Jewish leaders.

Q17: [missed this – possibly do we support using force to stop Iran from using nuclear weapons]

PM: Yes

MF: as a last option

PM: facilitation peace process.

MF: [cedes follow up]

Q18: War in Afghanistan.

MF: We’re there so we must win. Listen to the generals on the ground. They asked for surge. PM voted against it but it worked. Don’t provide deadlines.

PM: After 9/11 we diverted out attention to Iraq. Should pay attention to [Pakistan? Afghanistan? missed this]. MF never broke with party or president on that. Now they're saying its not enough.

MF: Truth is that I was one of the few congressmen to tell the president in 2006 that he was wrong on this. If we are there we should listen to the generals on the ground.

PM: Our heroes in harm's way in Afghanistan are doing their best. We have to support them.

Q19: Cost of military vs domestic spending

PM: There's good spending and bad spending. I stood with Defense Secretary Gates. Failed anyway. Part of good spending, give them the education, housing and VA facilities they need.

MF: There is wasteful spending all over the budget. Continue to spend on programs we would like to have but can't afford. Most important job of govt is to protect. Squeezed out by domestic spending and debt.

PM: I supported the largest increased in spending on veterans since [missed this]. His record -- cut, voted against soldiers getting a pay raise.

Q20: global climate change

MF: The jury is out on this. Should not pass national energy tax. We need to get back to basics. Reduce spending. Rolling spending back to pre-08 level. Do what Gov. Christie has done.

PM: When MF in Congress he supported climate change, and he co-sponsed that bill and was endorsed by Sierra Club. MF says climate science research has changed. It hasn't. He has flipped on many issues.

MF: The League of Conservation Voters endorsed me because of my environmental record. Fact is the science has changed. Opinion of scientists has changed.

PM: We are losing jobs to countries that are investing in green jobs.

Q21: This congressional race is in the national eye. Is it a referendum on Obama?

PM: People want to tie me to Obama, etc. I will tell you where I stand. Will continue to do that and fight for middle class.

MF: Maybe PM will identify jobs that went to Nicaragua. [PM interrupts him.] This will be a referendum on Obama.

PM: He's trying to reheat the same Bush policies. Thinks all of you have amnesia. We need to get people back to work.

MF: Voting 97.1% of the time with one administration shows zero independence.

Closing Statements

PM: Thanks. Contrast couldn't be clearer. We need to bring jobs back to Bucks County. If MF doesn't think people are hurting he doesn't get it. Let's make things here in Bucks County.

MF: People are hurting. Unemployment nearly 10%. PM things that is all because of my two years in Congress. PM won't do a commercial saying he supported Obama policies.

Moderator: Thanks.

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