Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Notes from Gerlach / Trivedi Debate

Jim Gerlach, incumbent Republican congressman for the 6th congressional district and his Democratic opponent, Dr. Manan Trivedi held the first of two schedule debates this past Sunday Oct. 10, 2010. These are my notes from the debate. It is not intended as a full transcript. As always I apologize in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

The Inquirer published an article on the debate in today's paper ("Gerlach, Trivedi spar over jobs, health," by Joelle Farrell). According to the article Gerlach did not want the debate recorded. Hopefully these notes will not violate his unilaterally imposed rule.

The debate was sponsored and moderated by the League of Women Voters. The audience was, by and large, well behaved, though there was a little rowdiness towards the end. It was certainly more civil than the audience at other debates I have attended.

Opening Statements

JG: Greetings and thanks. There are 2 questions: What will next Congress be like and what will its policies be. What to do to represent the district best?

MT: Greetings and thanks. I’ve been listening across the district. People are frustrated by DC. I am also. Need a new breed of leaders from our community. I’m an Iraq War veteran, a primary care physician. I can provide leadership. My father lost his job and his pension was raided. JG is a career politician. I will fight for you.

Q1: stance on Citizens United

JB: More use of private sector money in elections. Not just corporations but unions and non-profits also. It is now the law of the land. There was a bill to limit corporate money but I opposed it because it left out unions and nonprofits. It was only concerned with corporations. Must be across the board.

MT: Need to get money out of politics. Has too much power. In favor of constitutional amendment to get rid of power of corporations and special interests in campaign finance. When I applied to medical school people asked me about my qualifications not corporate support.

Q2: social security

MT: Social security is a promise. Pledge to protect it, not raise age limits, not raid trust fund. JG will raid and privatize.

JG: Opposed to privatization of social security. It is an important program and not just for the aged. My father died when I was young and my mother received social security survivor benefits. Should ask the American public for a consensus. Have a national non-binding referendum on how to preserve and protect social security. In favor of lock box.

Q3: ending tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.

JG: yes, but that is not the only issue. congress needs a proactive policy that cuts taxes on job creators, corporate taxes, regulations. Help small businesses. Competitive global economy. Make more credit available.

MT: yes. JG has voted against HR 4540, HR 27, HR 4213. Would save [missed number, in millions or billions]

Q4: Chemicals in Marcellus Shale, should companies withhold information on what chemicals they use in fracking?

MT: Should not allow these guys to squirt their “secret sauce” into our land. I do support legislation to require companies to state what chemicals are used in their process. Standard should be higher than whether or not you can set tap water on fire.

JB: Marcellus is an important economic opportunity. Look to Harrisburg to allow industry to create jobs and economic wealth. Need to understand was chemicals are used. Encourage DEP to put in stronger regulations. Outlaw harmful chemicals. Returning to last question – I opposed those bills because they had higher taxes in it. Stimulus sent jobs overseas.

Q5: health care reform – what elements are most important?

JG: repeal and replace. Bad bill. new taxes, cuts in Medicare. Move to consumer and market based approach. buy across state lines. tort reform.

MT: Who do you want making your health decisions? Your primary care physician or an insurance company? He had his chance. If it is repealed, then companies can discriminate on the basis of pre-existing conditions, adult children cannot be on parent’s policy, there will again be caps on how much the insurance company will spend on your care. health care should be about patient not profits.

Q6: steps to solve immigration issue

MT: Need immigration reform, seal borders, don’t hire illegals, need to pass background checks.

JG: Sounds like MT is for amnesty. Immigration reform starts with control of southern border. maybe we need to increase the number of guest worker visas. Let them move in legally. ICE should take responsibility if an illegal is picked up locally. Back to health care reform, many physicians support my campaign {reads list of endorsements.]

Q7: tax cuts to wealthy

JG: Extend tax cuts to all. has bipartisan support. height of irresponsibility not to have vote on this yet.

MT: Not to wealthiest of wealthiest. That would cut a $100K check to every millionaire and billionaire, $750billion total. JG wants to make sure millionaire and billionaire buddies get tax cut. Polices and economists tell you that the middle class will spend, wealthy won’t. On health care, I know from the trenches about health care.

Q8: gridlock

MT: too much gridlock and rancor. JB is in “beltway bubble.” In health care we used evidence based medicine, see what works. Need that in DC. I never choose ideology over evidence.

JG: Speaker should allow more bipartisan bills through. House rules need to be changed to reduce power of majority party. Speaker wouldn’t allow amendments to health care reform bills.

Q9: foreclosures

JG: Congress should exercise oversight duties. If there were abusive practices, they should be [missed this]. Subprime loans were encouraged by Fannie and Freddie.

MT: Dismaying but not surprising. Big banks that got bailed out but voted against any reform for banking We need people fighting for everyday Americans.

Q10: reproductive health care

MT: Support access to reproductive services. Some insurance companies cover viagra but not birth control. make abortion safe, legal and rare.

JG: pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of mother. for family planning. MT supports tax payer dollars for abortion. Tax cut issue – should not increase taxes on small business owners.

Q11: interrogation techniques at Gitmo

JG: Don’t’ allow torture. We do have many enemies. We do need access to information.

MT: I served in Iraq. Felt that war was wrong but followed orders. Iraq took our eye of the ball in Afghanistan. JG should be held accountable. Waterboarding should be stopped. Abu Ghraib only addressed lower level people. Leaders should be held accountable.

Q12: Who are your three larges contributors, how much did they give you and what did you promise them?

MT: I honestly don’t know. Very few. Most of my campaign funds come from individuals. Haven’t promised anyone anything. On tax cuts – less than 3% of small businesses will be affected.

JG: Corporations not allowed to give directly – has to go through PACs. Opponent has many labor unions. I have maxed out donations from the National Association of Independent Businesses, hospital groups and realtors. Those are the folks who have contributed. Nothing promised to any of them.

Q13: How does taxing middle class and upper class less help the economy?

JG: has worked before, done by JFK, Clinton, etc. Leaving more money in private sector. Small business is what grows the economy.

MT: Failed to mention Bush, deregulated industry, cut taxes on wealthy. They have no new vision. Has run economy into the ground. Giving tax cuts to the middle class works.

Q14: DADT repeal?

MT: yes

JG: Defense Secretary Gates ahs asked for a study of the military. I want to see the results of that study. On taxes, opponent wants to raise taxes on job creators.

Closing Statements

MT: We need real people in office. JB does what party bosses tell him. Wants to ship jobs overseas.

JG: Thanks. Job crushing taxes and deficit increasing policies. People in the 6th district don’t want more taxes and bailouts.

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