Throughout the campaign I’ve been involved in several candidate forums with my opponents for the open seat in the 5th Congressional District. Additionally, during the final 5 weeks of the campaign there will be several additional opportunities for voters in the 5th district to watch all three candidates debate the important issues facing the district and the nation. The important question voters should consider while watching or listening to these events is which of the three candidates really understands the important problems facing our nation.
There are several issues that clearly define and differentiate where I stand and what I believe in versus my two opponents. I’ve found that my stances on Health Care Reform, the future of Social Security, understanding the economic problems in the 5th district and, most importantly, fiscal responsibility by the federal government separate me from my two opponents.
Starting with Health Care Reform, my Republican opponent has repeatedly stated “the United States has the best healthcare system in the world” and says “we don’t turn people away.” But, the sad fact is there are 45.7 million uninsured people in the United States and many more underinsured. He also regularly says that a “tremendous debate needs to occur” and that the way to solve the nation’s health care crisis is to “peel away the layers of federal regulations.”
In contrast, I understand that too many of our citizens, both here in the 5th district and across the nation, lack access to affordable health care. The statement that “we don’t turn people away” is completely false. The fact remains that people who have no health care coverage do get turned away and those who finally get treatment once it is a critical situation that requires a trip to the emergency room are then faced with harassment from the billing department at the hospital or by a collection agency.
On health care reform, my opponents are wrong on several counts — we don’t need a “tremendous debate” we’ve talked long enough and we need more detailed solutions than just “peeling away the layers of federal regulations.” Throughout the campaign, I have proposed as a first step a voluntary national health insurance purchasing pool to provide low cost health care coverage for individuals and small businesses. Once this proves successful, then we can move forward on the real solution which is universal health care for everyone.
On Social Security, the contrast is also clear. On numerous occasions my Republican opponent has touted his strong support for the idea of allowing young people to take part of their Social Security to invest in private accounts. I have stressed that we must work to save and strengthen Social Security for all future generations and any policy that includes private accounts like those proposed by my Republican opponent would only weaken Social Security.
Of even greater concern is the fact that private financial investments fail as we’ve clearly witnessed in recent weeks. What happens in the future if funds diverted from Social Security to private accounts fail? Will the taxpayers in the future have to bailout millions of individuals who chose to go the private accounts route when their investments fail and they have no retirement to fall back on. The choice must be to save and strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren. Policies that would weaken the system while placing the future retirement of millions of our young people at risk is unacceptable and candidates proposing these ideas should be rejected.
Finally, the one issue that I’m asking the voters in the 5th district to really judge the candidates on is the issue of fiscal responsibility in Washington. This is an issue I understand as a citizen, as a former school board member and now as a county commissioner. I will continue to stress that the most important thing we need from Congress is fiscal responsibility with a commitment to balancing the federal budget which currently has a $482 billion deficit, building a solid surplus and, most important, paying down the $9.7 trillion federal government debt. My Republican opponent continues to build his campaign around “extending the Bush tax cuts” while at the same time proposing increases in spending.
As proof of my commitment to supporting fiscal responsibility and my honesty with the voters in comparison to my Republican opponent’s mixed signals on fiscal matters go to www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org and compare both of our responses on increased federal funding for research. Throughout the campaign and in surveys I’ve been asked to complete, I stress that there is a fiscal crisis in Washington and there is NO MONEY for increased domestic spending until we make the commitment to solving the fiscal crisis. In contrast, my Republican opponent continues to support the failed fiscal policies from the last 8 years and he continues to suggest that federal funding increases are possible in many areas.
In the closing weeks of the campaign, I’m going to stress to voters to use the fiscal crisis as the key issue to decide the 5th district race. The question voters must ask themselves is this: Do you want a person representing you in Congress who understands our biggest problem is the $9.7 trillion debt owed to nations like China and Saudi Arabia OR do you want a person who disregards this threat in favor of extending tax cuts that benefited the most wealthy and affluent citizens? Perhaps more important to consider is this: Will we send people to Congress who will confront and solve this threat now, or will we pass responsibility for this problem on to our children and grandchildren?
More on the Bush bailout plan: I wrote last week of my concern about President Bush’s plan to provide a $700 billion bailout to rescue failing financial institutions. Earlier this week I watched President Bush speak to the nation about his plan where he attempted to explain what he was doing and why he wanted to do it. While we heard the what and the why, he failed to offer the most important information the nation needed to hear — How is he going to pay for it. Sadly, the facts are out in his proposal that the $700 billion bailout will be paid for by increasing the federal debt limit which means the bailout will be funded with more borrowed money AKA fiscally irresponsible policies.
If I was a member of Congress now, I could not support any bailout bill that fails to address funding the bailout and I would strongly and vocally oppose adding this cost to the debt. However, I would be offering solutions on how to raise the funds to pay for the bailout. Specifically I would suggest the following recommendations to raise revenue to fund the bailout:
1. I would call for immediate investigations to identify any corporate executives who were responsible for this financial fiasco and would demand that the bailout bill include language to freeze and seize the assets of those responsible for the mess. The assets of those responsible would then be liquidated to pay restitution to the federal government to help fund the bailout.
2. I would propose 2 funding streams that would expire once the bailout costs are recovered. First, there would be a ½ % stock transfer fee. In order to waive this fee for private citizens who dabble in the stock market, the first $5,000 per year would be exempt from the fee. Second, there would be a ½ % mortgage fee that would be waived from the first $75,000 of the mortgage amount so it would not severely impact first time home buyers.
These two suggestions would raise significant revenue to fund the bailout plan and would also keep the cost from being applied to the federal debt. It would also place responsibility for funding the bailout costs on those who will benefit from the bailout rather than the middle class taxpayers. The most important language that would be included in regards to both the stock transfer fee and the mortgage fee is that they will expire once the crisis is over. This will provide the incentive for leaders in the financial services industry to do everything they can to get us through the financial crisis so the added fees to the federal government will expire as soon as possible.
Schedule for the Upcoming Week:
Monday — Newspaper Interviews — The Progress / Clearfield, Clarion, Ridgway and St. Marys, Daily Collegian
Tuesday — WJAC Interview, Meet the Candidates — Clearfield Chamber of Commerce at Elks Club
Wednesday — Meeting with Fayette Resources / DuBois, Interviews with PCN and Lewistown Sentinel, State College Borough Democratic Committee event — 6 PM Ramada Inn in State College
Thursday — Newspaper Interviews during the day, Debate in Bradford at Pitt / Bradford Campus 6 PM
Friday — Event in State College with PSU Students
Saturday — Clarion Leaf Festival and Parade
FUNDRAISING REMINDER — Keep talking with people about the 5,000 Friends to Flip the Fifth project. We can win the 5th District Congressional District for the first time in 32 years but we need to be organizing our forces heading into the final weeks. The only way to turn this country around is to send people to Washington who will make the tough decisions. The choice in the 5th district is clear. My opponent regularly states that he supports the fiscal policies of the Bush administration AKA “the Bush tax cuts” and will continue them — More of the Same. While I continue to stress that we must balance the budget, built a surplus and pay down the debt.
In order to get the message out to voters we will need to advertise which costs money. Please contact your family and friends and urge them to financially support our campaign as we move into the final weeks. Donations can be made online through www.actblue.com or by direct mail to McCracken for Congress, PO Box 332, Clearfield PA 16830.
Mark B. McCracken
Your Candidate For Congress