Monday, October 13, 2008

Manion / Murphy Debate at Shir Ami

8th Congressional District Debate, Oct. 12th, 2008, Shir Ami in Newtown.

These are rough notes, hand-written while the candidates were speaking. It is not a complete transcript and it is possible that some words are not presented as they were spoken. A best effort was made at contextual accuracy. Apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions. Those with questions about either candidate's stance on a particular issue should contact the appropriate campaign. Where specific bills are mention I have included a link to the THOMAS database; if you click on the link and enter the bill number you can read more about that bill.

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D)(legislative site) / Tom Manion ( R )

Introductions by Spence Snyderman of the Shir Amir Men’s Club.
League of Women Voters, timekeeper Judy Clark of Bucks County
League of Women Voters, moderator Kelly Green of Philadelphia (according to LWV rules someone from outside the district has to moderate debates)

Opening Statements

Manion: [provides biographical information] Attended Widener University, in the Marines 11 years, and the Marines for an additional 19. Worked at Johnson & Johnson for 18 years. Washington is broken. I want to make a difference, with leadership and experience. It is time to work together and get things done.

Murphy: Our country faces a lot of challenges. We can tackle them if we work together. We need to wind down the war in Iraq, refocus on Al Qaeda, green energy.

Q: bailout of the financial sector

Murphy: I’m upset we have this problem. Small business would get inventory on credit and now can’t. Seniors with pensions or 401(k) accounts cut in half. Wall Street has been focused on greed and has run wild for the past 8 years. The bill that passed was not a perfect action but we had to do something. It included a cap on executive pay with a review in 5 years. [blogger’s note: I missed some detail on some of this.]

Manion: This is a travesty for our country, complicity and greed throughout and in the leadership in D.C. We need to fix the problem, privatize Fannie and Freddie, with the right level of regulation, no more risky loans

Q: job creation

Manion: Work with businesses to allow them to grow. 90% of the businesses in this area are small businesses. We need partnerships, need to work together. We have port, railway system, roads. We need to market what Bucks County has. We have the 2nd highest tax rate in the world and need to cut the business tax rate.

Murphy: We need tax breaks for small businesses. We need to look out for our seniors. We need to create green jobs, like the hub in Bucks County. 99% of the businesses in this area are small businesses. That’s why we passed the Hill / Murphy law. (HR 3021; press release on it here)

Q: change tax structure?

Murphy: No one wants more taxes. We are now a country at war and a country in debt, 68% of the new debt under Pres. Bush is foreign. We need to tighten our fiscal belts. Everyone here owes over $30,000 in debt. In favor of some tax breaks. Ask 3% more if people make over $250,000.

Manion: The last thing we need to do is increase taxes. We need to simplify the tax code; there should be a one page tax code. We need more discipline. Since Patrick Murphy has been in office the debt has gone up 170%.

Murphy: We must get a handle on where money is spent. My first bill was the Iraqi Accountability Bill (H Res 97). At home I have sponsored the Improper Payments Act (HR 5467).

Manion: It starts at home. The Iraqis need to step up and start paying. We need to get control of earmarks. Murphy is #4 in the US for earmarks.

Q: On social security, should we privatize?

Manion: We need to protect the social security system. It is not sustainable in the long-run. No action has been taken in the last 2 years. We need action to protect what was paid in. First protect those near retirement age. We don’t have the money and system for sustainability.

Murphy: No privatization. If we had privatized when Pres. Bush wanted to we’d be in big trouble. Needs to be more efficient. I voted twice against the budget because it went into social security. The Improper Payments Act, auditing process. Right now if something is under $2 million there is no audit. [gives example of a doctor that billed for several hundred procedures a day]

Manion: I didn’t say I was for privatizing but we need to look at system. Getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse won’t solve the problem. The budget is a piece of paper. The government is run through appropriations.

Murphy: We cut $7 million from earmarks and made the process more transparent.

Q: Energy independence

Murphy: We need to change how we power our country. The nation’s 4th largest solar panel field is being built in Bucks County and is almost complete. The windmill factory is at 56% capacity and has a 3 year backlog. We must work on several types of energy. We also need to work on personal responsibility. We changed CAFÉ standards to 35 mpg.

Manion: I am for an all encompassing strategy, not a business as usual strategy. However, our infrastructure is built on oil. We need to increase internal supply. Murphy helped write the overall energy bill then after a congressional recess he supported the [less comprehensive] Pelosi bill.

Murphy: The bill that passed the House will invest in green collar jobs. My bill will also invest in education for green collar jobs. We need to do more; CAFÉ standards should be higher.

Q: windfall profit tax for oil companies?

Manion: No, we tried that in the 1970’s and it didn’t work. It gets passed on to consumers. When we tax our companies it puts them at a disadvantage in a global economy.

Murphy: It is not the most appropriate or efficient way. We need to get them to buy into green energy. Energy companies need to be good corporate citizens. If oil is taken from US soil, they need to share the wealth earned from it. We also need to change the tax code.

Q: Iraq

Murphy: I served in Iraq. My brother just came home from his overseas deployment. The Iraqi government needs to step up. I support a phased redeployment over 16 months. Leave a small strategic strike force.

Manion: Don’t look back. The surge was successful. We need to talk about the consequences of leaving there. During the Viet Nam war we tried to run a war from Washington. We need to get behind Gen. Petraeus. Don’t share our strategy with the enemy. The Iraqis are stepping up – they are having an election. Conditional withdrawal.

Murphy: I served with Gen. Petraeus. Our troops are doing a great job. Al Qaeda is strongest in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We can’t let Al Qaeda in Pakistan get nukes.

Manion: These are 2006 talking points. We can’t let Iraq fall apart. Gen. Petraeus doesn’t need your advice [said to Murphy].

Q: On Sept. 12th, 2001, what would you have advised the president to do?

Manion: The president talked about going back to normal life as quickly as possible. Would have advised against that. Not normal. We should have tightened our belt, reaching out more.

Murphy: I wouldn’t have told Americans to go shopping and then cut taxes on the wealth. We should have used the spirit of coming together to focus on challenges ahead. We can’t focus on Iraq and Afghanistan; the troops are stretched too thin. I would have advised against going into Iraq. We should have finished the job in Afghanistan.

Manion: Need to get together and recognize the significance of 9/11. Learn from that. Make sure Afghanistan doesn’t go the way of Iraq.

Murphy: Not advocating leaving Iraq in a shambles. Need to spend their money not ours.

Q: Would you go into Pakistan without government’s support and approval?

Murphy: They are our ally and we want to work with them. If they are unwilling or unable to intervene and if we have reliable intelligence, it is the duty of Congress to protect American families.

Manion: If necessary would support it. Starting to change our approach in Pakistan.

Murphy: Given them $10 billion but nothing to show for it.

Manion: Rhetoric about Iraq. The surge was successful. We can’t let the area fall apart. Trust Petraeus. My son worked with Iraqis. He was shot and killed as he fought along with them.

Q: 47 million Americans have no health insurance, 70% of those are in a family with at least one full-time worker

Manion: There are a lot of challenges in health care. I’m not for a single payer system. I want an open market, put responsibility on the individual patient and doctors, open up interstate health insurance. More medical records should be made electronic. More information technology in administrative work. Preventive care. Put patients and doctors back in charge. We have a Do Nothing Congress.

Murphy: Congress passed children’s health insurance three times and the president vetoed it. 300 million Americans can’t afford health insurance. I’m proud of our efforts with Doylestown Hospital for electronic medical records. To say ownership on patient is reckless. Open market – look at financial crisis. Does not support single payer system.

Manion: Open market irresponsible? That’s what America was built on. Opposed to change dynamic. Put decision making back on patient and doctor.

Murphy: Crack down on abuses. Shared sacrifice – doctors, patients, insurance companies, attorneys, more responsibility.

Q: illegal immigration

Murphy: We have an immigration crisis. There are 12 million illegal immigrants in the US. We need to crack down on borders, south and north. 800 miles of fence built. I worked with Rep. Dent (Republican from the 15th congressional district). We need to crack down on employers who knowingly hire illegals. Pres. Clinton brought charges against hundreds of employers. Pres. Bush has brought charges against four. I don’t believe in amnesty.

Manion: We need to close the borders now. Still not secure 7 years after 9/11. Lack of leadership in DC. We need a robust visa program. Deport criminals. Enact the laws. Democrat Pete Shuler of North Carolina has co-sponsored a bill with Murphy. It has never moved to the House floor. Murphy hasn’t signed a discharge petition.

Murphy: When unemployment is rising we should not have more work visas.

Manion: We need to move legislation forward.

Q: American companies hiring workers overseas

Manion: The global environment and marketplace. We need to strengthen companies at home. Work with them. Incentives. Cut tax rates from 35% to 25%.

Murphy: The tax code rewards companies for outsourcing jobs. Americans are the hardest working employees in the world. An open market pits US companies against countries without child labor laws or environmental standards. We need fair trade not free trade.

Manion: I’m for balanced trade. The only way to strengthen the economy is to work with our companies. Strong business in America creates jobs.

Murphy: tax breaks implement in Bucks Co. A former brownfield is now a hub of green energy. Jones Apparel used to make clothes. Those jobs overseas now.

Q: same sex marriage

Murphy: civil unions. Let people see their partners if they are in the hospital. Health benefits. Taught constitutional law. Justice is for everyone.

Manion: civil unions. Let the states decide.

Q: abortion

Manion: Against abortion as a means of birth control. Okay in cases of rape, incest, life of mother. Support stem cell research.

Murphy: I’m pro-choice. I’m a practicing Catholic but cannot impose my religious beliefs on others. I support limitations. No one is for abortion as birth control. Partnered with a Republican for an adoption tax credit (H.R. 471?).

Manion: Don’t believe in federal funding for abortion as birth control. State issue.

Murphy: It is a federal issue.

Q: Israel / Palestine conflict

Murphy: Israel has a right of self-defense; it is the #1 ally of the US. Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map and wants nukes. The symbol of the American eagle has in one talon arrows, to symbolize military leadership. In the other talon is the olive branch of diplomacy.

Manion: Israel is the #1 strategic partner in the Middle East. Do anything that supports that partnership. The US is #1 in protecting Israel. Must strengthen sanctions against Iran. Diplomacy includes pre-conditions. Sanctions. If necessary 100% behind Israel defending itself.

Murphy: We cannot allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. Robust diplomacy. Need to talk with Iran about this.

Candidates ask each other one question.

Murphy to Manion: Do you support Sen. McCain’s comprehensive immigration policy?

Manion: I support my plan. Close borders. Robust visa program. Send home those here illegally. Allow them to apply for legal migration. Send criminals home.

Manion to Murphy: What are your top spending priorities?

Murphy: defense spending. The military needs to have every tool in its toolbox.

Q: Priorities of constituents?

Murphy: A congressional representative who will look them in the eye and tell them the truth. In government: military spending, a change in how we power the country. [Mentions working with local Republican officials in Yardley to get funding for flood prevention.]

Manion: Economy, health care, defense. People not happy with lack of leadership in Washington. This is on both sides of the aisle. Do Nothing Congress. They don’t get it. We need leadership, bipartisanship, reform.

Closing Statements

Murphy: [thanks LWV and synagogue] I am honored to represent the 8th congressional district and serve on the Armed Forces and Intelligence committees. We passed the largest increase in veterans benefits. Post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, common in Iraq War veterans. New GI bill. Attracting green energy jobs. My office sends out 180 letters a day, not form letters but answers to constituents’ questions. Both Democrats and Republicans work in my office. I’ve been back at the train stations every week since the election, thanking people for their votes and keeping in touch.

Manion: [thanks LWV and synagogue]. Need straight talk and integrity in DC. All for alternative energy companies. But they were here before our current representative was in office. All for veterans benefits but that’s an easy task to tackle. What have we done about health care and social security. Same people in charge of fixing Fannie and Freddie that were in charge of regulating them. [mentions Barney Frank and Chris Dodd]. Need people of action.


eRobin said...

Thank you so much for doing this. I won't be able to go to any of the debates so I really appreciate reading your very thorough notes.

AboveAvgJane said...


I don't think anyone does debate notes as well as you do, but thank you for the compliment.

Anonymous said...

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans, but it can result from a variety of traumatic incidents, such as mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, child abuse, car accidents, train wrecks, plane crashes, bombings, or natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes.

AboveAvgJane said...

You are absolutely correct.