The LuLac Edition #76, Oct. 30, 2006
PICTURE INDEX: JIm Gibson of the Colorado Democratic Leadership Council and U.S. Senate candidate Robert Casey and family.
DAYS TO ELECTION DAY
CASEY GETS ENDORSEMENTS
U.S. Senate candidate Robert Casey's campaign was given great news by garnering endorsements from a few Pennsylvania newspapers. While many say a newspaper endorsement does not carry the clout that it used to, the fact that Casey got them has to be good news for his camp. Governor Rendell also had a good day in the newspapers too despite the flap this week over the remarks he made about Pennsylvania senior citizens leading a gray existance with no joy in their lives. Here is how the endorsement wars stack up so far:
The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, The Morning Call of Allentown and the York Daily Record/Sunday News all endorsed Casey in the Senate race. The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette backed Rendell for governor; the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review chose not to endorse Rendell or Swann.
The Patriot-News said Casey would "listen, learn and contribute in bipartisan fashion to the mounting challenges confronting the nation." While it credited Santorum with bringing important federal dollars to the state, it said he has become "a divisive figure" seen by some as a "poster boy for America's right-wing fringe elements."
The Morning Call lauded Casey's work seeking out waste and fraud as the state's auditor general and treasurer. It acknowledged Santorum has more national policy experience, but determined Casey would better represent the values of Pennsylvanians.
"Based on his demonstrated honesty of character and a shirt-sleeves work ethic, we believe he would bring the same initiative and compassion to the U.S. Senate," the newspaper wrote.
The York Daily Record/Sunday News called Casey a moderate who would appeal to Pennsylvanians and help restore balance in Washington, D.C.
"One-party rule there has given us a botched war effort, a failing energy policy, and a brown environmental record," the newspaper wrote. "On issue after issue, Mr. Casey better reflects mainstream Pennsylvanians."
In the governor's race, The Inquirer called Rendell "clearly superior" to Swann, the Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer making his first foray into politics.
The newspaper called Rendell a pragmatist who gets results, even if his methods are "often noisy and messy" and commended his efforts on tax-reform, energy policy and health care. The newspaper said Swann is "sincere and has leadership qualities," but added that his inexperience hurt him.
"Swann's lack of command of the basics of state issues at the outset of his campaign was embarrassing," The Inquirer wrote. "He's gotten marginally better since."
In endorsing Rendell, the Post-Gazette said his property tax reform won't go far enough, but that it would help some seniors. It called his support of the legislative pay raise a mistake and noted he was slow to call for some reforms. But it gave Rendell high marks for reducing unemployment and saving money.
Swann, the paper said, would be hurt by his inexperience.
"We fail to see how someone with a lack of political or managerial experience can get his way with a Legislature that could be divided next session," the editorial said.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review did not endorse either candidate for governor.
It said Rendell "came to power four years ago promising much but delivering little more than typical liberal propaganda, serial wealth redistributionism and union-coddling."
Swann entered the race as the "reform candidate," but has failed to live up to that billing, according to the editorial.
DEMS DO HAVE A PLAN
One of the big criticisms you hear about this election is that the Democratic Party has no plan for the future and cannot articulate any ideas as far as leading this country. That is just not true. However, given Robert P. Casey's low key campaign and general adherence to his talking points, one might get that impression. But here from the pens of the Democratic Leadership Council is a sensible plan for America if the Democrats do get the opportunity to lead. Here are 5 points from a document called Blueprint for America:
1. A New Social Contract: What You Can Do for Your Country, and What Your Country Can Do for You.
Universal Citizen Service. We need a new patriotism that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing, for the first time, an ethic of universal citizen service. All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service. This is not a draft -- nor is it military. Young people will be trained not as soldiers, but simply as citizens who understand their responsibilities in the event of natural disaster, epidemic, or terrorist attack. Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common national purpose.
Universal College Access. We must make a college degree as universal as a high school diploma. Just as Abraham Lincoln gave land grants to endow our great public universities, we should give the states tuition grants to make college free for those willing to work, serve, and excel. A College Tax Credit should replace the five major existing education tax incentives with a simple $3,000-a-year credit -- fully refundable and available for four years of college and two years of graduate school. It would help 6 million full-time students cover more than half the average cost of tuition at a public university.
Universal Retirement Savings. An aging society cannot afford to keep saving less and risking more. We need new means to create wealth. Employers should be required to offer 401(k)'s, and workers will be enrolled unless they choose otherwise. If they switch jobs, they should be able to take their account with them. When their paycheck goes up, so should their savings. Instead of a workforce in which only half the workers have retirement savings plans, every American will have one.
Universal Children's Health Care. We need to cut the cost of health care so that every business can afford it, and every child in America at last can get it. We can save hundreds of billions by adopting electronic medical records, rewarding outcomes instead of procedures, providing incentives for personal responsibility, and starting a National Cure Center to cure chronic diseases. As we achieve those savings, we should use them to give small businesses access to the same health plans as members of Congress -- and to make sure all parents in America have the responsibility and the means to afford health insurance for their children.
2. Fiscal Responsibility and Ending Corporate Welfare. We can only achieve universal service, college, pensions, and children's health care if we're willing to cut and invest to pay for them. The place to start is by ending corporate welfare and the hack-ridden government that fuels it.
3. Tax Reform to Help Those Who Aren't Wealthy Build Wealth. We propose a tax reform plan that makes sure no middle-class family with an income of under $100,000 will ever have to pay an effective income tax rate of more than 10 percent. Our plan cuts the number of tax brackets in half, closes dozens of loopholes by setting a corporate flat tax, and simplifies the tax code by offering four superincentives: a $3,000 refundable college tax credit, a universal mortgage deduction, a simplified family credit for families with children, and a universal pension that replaces the current hodgepodge of 16 existing IRA-type accounts.
4. A New Strategy to Win the War on Terror. We need a new strategy that uses all the tools of American power to make our country safe. America must lead the world's fight against the spread of evil and totalitarianism, but we must stop trying to win that battle on our own. We should reform and strengthen multilateral institutions for the 21st century, not walk away from them. We need to fortify the military's "thin green line" around the world by adding to the Special Forces and the Marines, and expanding the Army by 100,000 more troops. We should give all our troops a new G.I. Bill to come home to. Finally, we must protect the homeland and our civil liberties by creating a new domestic counterterrorism force like Britain's MI5.
5. A Hybrid Economy that Cuts America's Gasoline Use in Half. We can cut our use of gasoline in half over the next decade by accelerating energy research and by embracing a technology that already exists -- the plug-in hybrid, which in combination with alternative fuels has the potential to deliver 100 miles per gallon.
The bottom line is that Democrats need A Plan going into this crucial midterm election. Others may have competing progressive ideas. It's time to get them all on the table.