A Choice - More of the Same or Something Different
On November 4th, voters will have a choice to make, not only in the race for President between Senator John McCain (More of the Same) and Senator Barack Obama (Something Different), but also in each of the contested races for seats in the US Congress.
Voters have to look no further than two recent congressional roll call votes to see a contrast between the Democratic and Republican parties. On May 21st, with solid Democratic support, HR 6049 passed on a 263 for / 160 against vote. HR 6049 provides energy, business and personal tax breaks totaling $55.5 billion to spur the production of non-fossil fuels, promote energy conservation, stimulate business activity and help homeowners and the working poor. In order to offset the costs of HR 6049, the bill tightens accounting rules on multinational corporations and eliminates certain offshore tax shelters and loopholes utilized by some US hedge fund managers. Most important, HR 6049 does not add any additional burden to the national debt.
Most encouraging, HR 6049 will have a positive effect right here in north central Pennsylvania with funding to spur renewable energy sources from crops (including corn based ethanol) and by providing incentives for the production of non-corn based ethanol. Both of these options will support the alternative fuels industry that is coming to north central Pennsylvania creating jobs and investment in the 5th Congressional District. Additional language authorizes tax breaks for investment in coal gasification technology, another process that could bring jobs and investment to revitalize the coal industry in north central Pennsylvania.
Because HR 6049 invests in domestically produced alternative energy and offers great benefits to north central Pennsylvania, I would have voted, along with 16 other members of the Pennsylvania delegation, to support the legislation. The 3 dissenting votes cast from the Pennsylvania delegation came from Republicans John Peterson, Bill Shuster and Joseph Pitts.
The Republicans offered alternative language that removed the tighter accounting rules to eliminate the offshore tax shelters and loopholes and included language that added $50 billion for a temporary fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax. The Republican alternative shifted the entire $55.5 billion cost for HR 6049 plus the $50 billion for the temporary fix of the AMT directly to the national debt. Since a main theme of my campaign is fiscal responsibility and the elimination of the national debt, I would have voted against the alternative language. The Republican alternative failed 201 for / 220 against with all 8 Republican members of the Pennsylvania delegation voting for the Republican alternative language. TRANSLATION: All 8 Republican members of the Pennsylvania delegation voted to add an additional $105.5 billion to the national debt which is closing in on $10 trillion.
Perhaps most disturbing was the following statement made by Rep. Jeb Hensarling R-Texas in opposing HR 6049. "Under the Democrats control of Congress, we have seen prices at the pump go up about $1.50 a gallon. They have tried to sue their way to lower gas prices. Now they are trying to tax their way to lower gas prices. Yet they never think about producing American energy in America.".
WHAT WAS THAT? The entire purpose of HR 6049 is to spur the production of alternative fuels produced right here in the United States of America, creating jobs, investment and decreasing our dependence on foreign oil. Perhaps it is time for Rep. Hensarling and his cohorts to acknowledge that foreign policy failures by the Bush administration destabilized the Middle East which is THE reason oil is now $140 a barrel and gas is over $4 a gallon.
The votes on HR 6049 and the Republican alternative language that would have increased the national debt by $105.5 billion are prime examples of what voters must consider when they vote in November. Maybe the choice isn’t between More of the Same or Something Different. Perhaps the real choice comes down to More of the Same or Something Better!
Campaign Highlights for the Week:
Friday morning, Campaign Chairman Henry Guthrie and I stopped in Lock Haven to participate in a candidate forum that was sponsored by Hub’s Home Oxygen Supply. The event was broadcast live on the radio with Glenn Thompson joining me to take questions for about an hour. The on site audience consisted of customers and employees of Hub’s Home Oxygen and 10th and 11th grade students from a nearby high school. Questions ranged from I-80 tolling / highway and bridge funding, health care reform, our stance on Second Amendment rights, the war in Iraq and who we support for president.
Later Friday and on Saturday, Henry and I attended the Democratic State Committee meeting in Harrisburg. During our time at the state committee meeting we spoke with several people including former Congressman Joe Hoeffel, Ruth Rudy who ran for the 5th District seat in 1996, PA-16 candidate Bruce Slater and Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll among others.
It was also encouraging to hear strong statements about the Democratic Party unifying behind Senator Barack Obama as our candidate for President. These messages came from Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Bob Casey and State Chairman T. J. Rooney. With our party unified we offer voters Something Better on November 4th.
Mark B. McCracken
Your Candidate For Congress
This diary is cross-posted at McCracken's campaign blog, PA's Blue Fifth
Mark McCracken for Congress