I admit, I am one of those people already focusing on 2016. But it's not the Presidential race that I am focused on. It's the 2016 Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race between Tea Party Senator Pat Toomey (R. PA) and decorated Admiral of the Navy and former Congressman Joe Sestak (D. PA). Sestak, as many of you know, very narrowly lost to Toomey for Senator Arlen Specter's (D. PA) Senate seat in a bad year for Democrats. But Sestak is eyeing a rematch in 2016 and he's been doing an excellent job at both fundraising (he raked in a little over $1 million this quarter) and attacking Toomey's extreme agenda. The latest Toomey offense was his vote to continue the Tea Party shutdown and allow the economy to default. Sestak is already nailing Toomey on this:
Here's the Patriot-News article slamming Toomey:US economy defaults, shutdown continues.
Those are the headlines you’d be seeing this morning if Senator Toomey had his way, because last night he voted to extend the shutdown and force the economy into a default.
But here’s one headline you will see: The Harrisburg Patriot-News Editorial Board said in their editorial today, “Sen. Toomey’s gamble is a reckless, irresponsible course that puts the life savings of every American in danger.”
Please click here to support Admiral Joe Sestak, a pragmatic leader who has lived a career making commonsense decisions and would never gamble with the livelihood and economy of America:
Toomey was one of 18 Republican Senators to vote against the Senate deal to keep the government open and preventing a default from happening. Why would he vote to allow the economy to default? Two reasons: Obamacare and his support for background checks:Pennsylvanians, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey is gambling with your retirement funds and other savings.
He’s doing it by aiding and abetting other congressional Republicans who continue to resist raising the nation’s borrowing limit, a step that’s needed so the U.S. government can pay all its bills. Most responsible observers think that failing to pay the nation’s bills on time would trigger worldwide economic turmoil.
Remember when the government’s decision not to bail out Lehman Brothers triggered the Panic of 2008, which led the stock market to crash by 50 percent?
Yeah, chaos like that.
But Sen. Toomey is willing to risk it. To do so, he has to deny the obvious danger. - The Patriot-News, 10/16/13
It should be noted that Toomey is a former president of the Club for Growth and FreedWorks CEO Dick Armey labeled Toomey as the "original Tea Party Republican" because of his unsuccessful attempt to defeat then Republican Arlen Specter in the 2004 GOP Senate primary. Toomey narrowly lost to Specter after George W. Bush and Senator Rick Santorum (R. PA) helped bail him out of a potential loss. But Toomey also has a record of supporting and pushing policies that hurt our economy and benefit the wealthy:Toomey is among the Republicans who maintain that failure to raise the debt limit would not result in a default because the U.S. government could prioritize paying interest owed on its debts. In fact, he was the pioneer of a plan to require the U.S. Treasury Department to pay out its debt obligations before any other bills, which many economists panned as too risky.
Toomey hoped to use the debt ceiling debate to extract Obamacare changes, such as a repeal of the medical device tax and a delay of the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have insurance. He never supported the Sen. Ted Cruz effort to link defunding or delaying Obamacare with government funding, though he did ultimately vote with Republicans to do so.
“The one major redeeming aspect of this bill is that it reopens the government,” Toomey said in a statement after the vote. “I disagreed with the plan to make funding the government contingent on defunding Obamacare and I am glad this bill will get the shutdown behind us. But I cannot support piling hundreds of billions of dollars of debt on current and future generations of Americans without even a sliver of reform to start putting our fiscal house in order.”
Pennsylvania Democrat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey voted with all other Democrats in support of the budget bill.
The Club for Growth, a conservative group that keeps tabs on how lawmakers vote, urged members to vote “no.” Toomey was president of the organization between his time as a U.S. congressman representing the Lehigh Valley and his 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Of the 10 votes the group has monitored this year, including this one, Toomey has only defied them once on the fiscal cliff deal in January.
Toomey endeared himself to Democrats when he aligned himself with the White House and Senate Democrats on a push to expand background checks on gun sales. But his recent votes on fiscal matters, which have always been his passion, have drawn their ire.
The Pennsylvania Democrats quickly put out a statement after the vote that said Toomey's position showed "his true colors" and that he is "completely out-of-touch with Pennsylvania." - The Morning Call, 10/16/13
Sestak hammered Toomey on his Wall Street past during the 2010 election. The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is already nailing Toomey for last night's vote:What economists do agree on is that the lack of regulation of derivatives—especially newly invented types of credit and equity swaps—was a major factor leading to the financial meltdown. The Glass-Steagall repeal bill also included a provision dealing with—or rather failing to deal with—derivatives regulation. Most members of Congress who voted for the bill focused on the Glass-Steagall bit. But Toomey—whom the derivatives industry saw as "one of its own"—zeroed in on the derivatives element. "I'm particularly pleased this bill contains an important provision regarding...credit and equity swaps," Toomey said in a November 1999 speech on the House floor. He went on to say that swaps were already "adequately regulated" and would "continue" to be regulated by banking supervisors, state-level officials with little power over national financial markets.
There was a lot of financial deregulation in 1999 and 2000, and Glass-Steagall repeal was just a part of it. In December 2000, Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas), a right-wing economist who went on to become John McCain's economic adviser (he's the one who said America was a "nation of whiners"), inserted an 262-page law called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) into an unrelated bill. (Read more about "Foreclosure Phil.")
The CFMA basically ensured the full deregulation of derivatives—completing the process that had begun in the UK in 1986. It was introduced on a Friday night two days after the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision and right before the Christmas recess. For better or worse (well, for worse), most members of Congress didn't even read the CFMA or know what it did. It passed overwhelmingly because few people understood it, and it was attached to a 11,000-page, must-pass, pork-stuffed appropriations bill that was going to pass anyway. (Wendy Gramm, Phil Gramm's wife, had been a key player in the partial derivatives deregulation from 1988 to 1993, when she was at the CFTC.)
Unlike most members of Congress, Toomey, the former derivatives trader, knew exactly what was going on with the CFMA—and had been pushing for it for months. In October, he had urged Congress to pass a similar bill—saying that it would "eliminate most of the cloud of legal and regulatory uncertainty that has shadowed" derivatives since their invention. Two months before that, he boasted to a House banking committee hearing that the derivatives industry "has done enormous good and has been an enormous force for positive change in our economy generally."
Toomey's derivatives cheerleading continued for the duration of his time in Congress. In 2001, he boasted on a campaign website that he had been "putting his experience in International finance to work" on "important legislation," including the "authorization of derivatives trading." In 2003, he praised the expansion of the derivatives market as "perhaps the most important, creative and innovative development in finance in the last 30 years." - Mother Jones, 10/5/10
Toomey and his Tea Part colleagues reckless behavior enraged Sestak so much that it caused him to swear on TV:In light of the 81-18 vote, Toomey's stance did not endanger the deal. But it did produce a swift reaction from Pennsylvania Democrats, who within an hour of the Senate vote proclaimed that Toomey had joined the "extreme tea party" wing of the Republican Party.
"His vote tonight not only would extend the shutdown, but force the U.S. economy into default and careen global financial markets into crisis," the state party said in a news release.
This is not the first time Democrats have tried to label him extreme. In late September, he voted with Cruz and other conservatives for a shutdown-related measure. But he also warned against risking a shutdown over Obamacare, saying it was "not a tactic that's going to get us the outcome we want." - Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/17/13
I can't blame Sestak for the language he used. Toomey's actions are extremely infuriating and can't be tolerated. I know some people think it's too early to be focusing on this Senate race but I respectfully disagree. Here are a few reasons why:During an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday where he was discussing the impact of the government shutdown on veterans, Sestak worked blue as he recounted a taxi ride earlier in the day where the driver told him about his experiences in Vietnam.
"When I got in, he recognized me and brought up the topic I was actually about to go on about...the denial of funeral expenses, etc. for those we lost in war due to the shutdown," Sestak emailed us after his appearance. "We kept talking and it was one of the lines he said…and I was just impressed with how he mentioned he had been 'humbled' by the experience of 'seeing a lot of s*** the average American doesn't get to see.' As, and how, he said it, fit who a vet is, perfectly." - The Patriot-News, 10/10/13
First, funding. Sestak has proven he can still raise money, even when he's not running and he's going to need a lot of it for 2016 because Toomey has a little over $2 million.
Second, Sestak needs to keep track of everything Toomey is doing. Toomey thinks that by signing onto the background checks bill he's able to paint himself as a Tea Party Republican who can work with Democrats. My diary on the Toomey-Manchin bill shows that it was all a show for Toomey:
Toomey will still be loyal to his party but will find other ways to make himself appear bipartisan. Toomey's not Santorum (he's worse) where he can't shut up about issues like marriage equality and abortion. Toomey doesn't run on the social issues like Santorum did.
Third, Sestak has the name recognition because he likes staying in the spotlight and making the news shows hence why he still has name recognition. When he went to every county in PA after the election to thank all of his supporters, it was a clear sign that we wouldn't be seeing the last of him because no other candidate who's lost has done that.
Fourth, Sestak pushed to make 2010 all about Toomey's record on being the lead congressman to push for the repeal of Glass-Steagall so Sestak will need a lot of time to build up a strong case that Toomey's economic policies are bad for the country. Remember this awesome ad?
Fifth, he needs to send a clear message to the PA Democratic Party that he is a serious candidate not to be reckoned with. We all remember the bull shit they tried to pull to help defeat him so Arlen Specter could win the nominee. By campaigning and building a strong base now, he will be sending his party a message that people want him to be the next Senator and that it would be wise to get behind him and not stop him.
I just couldn't see Sestak as a candidate for Governor. He's a great candidate but for the right office and the way he talks about being in the U.S. Senate, it sounds like he wants to get there to make it more functional. He would've been that extra vote for real filibuster reform because Sestak is a guy who wants to get things done. If he was in the Senate now, he would be joining his colleague like Al Franken and Jon Tester in overturning the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United. He'll listen to his constituents, fight for what's right and will work with colleagues on both sides when he has to.
Sestak had his bumps in the road in 2010 like the non-news story about Obama offering him a position in the White House to turn down running for Senate. He didn't handle that very well and it took Obama to help bail him out on that incident. My opinion, the only mistake Sestak made that I think cost him the race was trying to compare Toomey to Christine O'Donnell because of his Tea Party connections. Toomey may be as nutty as O'Donnell but Toomey did a great job convincing voters he was a down to earth kind of Republican. Toomey is beatable but he will run a tough and aggressive campaign. If Sestak can effectively start attacking Toomey in a way that exposes Toomey is more worried about keeping his job than doing it between now and 2016, Toomey can become a one termer. Paint him as an extremist but do it right this time. When Sestak compared Toomey to Bush and Santorum, it worked because those two names are still toxic in Pennsylvania.
Plus if Hillary Clinton is on the ballot, that would be an added bonus for Sestak because both Bill and Hillary would campaign for him.
The 2016 PA Senate race could be just like the 2008 NH Senate race. Where former Governor Jeanne Shaheen (D. NH) lost to Club for Growth Congressman John E. Sununu (R. NH) in the 2002 New Hampshire U.S. Senate race but returned in 2008 and crushed him in the race. Ironically, Toomey and Sununu share the same extreme economic ideology.
If Sestak was in the Senate, he would've joined Senator Bob Casey (D. PA) in voting for banning assault weapons. He'd be joining Senators Merkley, Warren, Reed and Sherrod Brown in breaking up the big banks. He's be out there with Senators Shaheen, Gillibrand and Hagan calling for an end to sexual assault in the military. He would be joining Senators Sanders and Harkin in stopping cuts to Social Security and he would've voted against the Keystone Pipeline and working with guys like Congressman Matt Cartwright (D. PA-17) to stop fracking. He also would be pushing to end the Bush tax cuts.
He was a workaholic in the House and he would be a workaholic in the Senate. Yes, it's early to be thinking about this race but we live in a post Citizens United world now where we are in constant campaign mode. One way to put an end to that era is to get rid of the people who benefit from the Supreme Court's decision on Citizens United and Pat Toomey is one of them.
So yeah, it might be early and anything can happen between now and 2016 but getting started this early can and will pay off. If you'd like to donate to Sestak's campaign, you can do so here: