UPDATE: I went through and fixed up some typos and clarified some stuff. For instance, in Alan Sandals' energy question I had: "We should have a national contest. Our grandkids will curse us forever." I changed that to: "We should have a national context (to enourage development of alternative energy.) Our grandkids will curse us forever." He did say that bit about the grandkids, which I found amusing.
Here we go. The conventional wisdom in the lazy corporate media is that Casey will be debating the specter of Rick Santorum tonight and that unless he weeps or pulls a gun, he will win. Why bother to look at the issues when there's horse racing coverage to do?
Rules for the crowd courtesy of Terry Madonna: No photos. No videos. No audio recordings. No clapping except at the introductions of the candidates and at the end when they are allowed to be as loud as they wanna be. (UPDATE: People clapped during the whole debate. Mostly for Chuck.)
Introduction of the timekeeper: Ben Donahower - you can clap for Ben.
Introduction of the moderator: Janelle Somebody from WGAL. She was near Ground Zero on 9/11. She went to the University of Puget Sound. Terry didn't say that they could clap for Janelle but they did anyway.
Bob Casey was elected Auditor General with the most votes of any candidate in PA history. He's made nursing homes safer and demanded change requiring information about sex offenders be available to the public. You may welcome him. Huzzah from the crowd.
Janelle: I'm reading introductions provided by the candidates.
Chuck lives in Bucks County. He's a history professor. He serves on the board of Tabor Children's House. Lots of community stuff. Union member. Fought for benefits for colleagues. Aid to Sen. Cranston. Aide to Rep. Dellums. 100% PAC-free. You may welcome him. Clearly the crowd is pro-Chuck. Huge ovation.
Alan Sandals is an attorney. He's been protecting pensions, representing miners and rocket scientists. On board of something. Looks forward to serving in the Senate. You may welcome him. Crowd response probably less than Casey's but not by much.
Rules: I have no idea. Thirty seconds. Two minutes. Whatever.
Chuck: You're mispronouncing my name. He told a joke there that I missed because the feed dropped out. Thanks F&M. Thanks volunteers who have thrown themselves into the fray. This is what Democracy looks like. It's about people taking our politics back from the special interests. Only one way to change politics and that's the way to change the way you do politics. I vowed to do that. I've met 30,000 Pennsylvanians who are desperate to get their party back. The only way to get our politics back is to make our politics people politics, not money politics. I'll never have to look over my shoulder afraid that I'm offending someone.
Casey: Thanks everyone. Thanks audience. We're here to talk about important issues. There's one thing we can all agree on. PA needs a new senator. When I look at this audience, I want to make sure I earn their votes. The differences between the senator and myself couldn't be greater. He voted against against min wage twelve times. He's taken the side of oil comps. Santorum doesn't care about our jobs going overseas. I do. (I missed some of this because a neighbor dropped in to talk. Doesn't everyone know that it's debate night! Basically this was his boilerplate "I am not Santorum" opening.
Sandals: We're not going to win if we have a candidate who offers more of the same. We need a candidate with a record of fighting for Pennsylvanians. We need more debates. (Feed dropped out.) He challenged Casey to say if he'd have more debates. If your answer is no, please explain why you are willing to ignore voters in southeast and southwestern PA. And why can't we use the video from tonight? Casey didn't respond.
Question 1: Which legislation would you intro first and why?
Sandals: There are three. 1. Energy bill that deals with global warming. Congress let us all down on that. We are beyond the point of delay. We have to fight thing from day one of the next Senate.
2. Far-reaching legislation that would protect pensions. The greatest generation fought for what they have. We need a much stronger law - Congress has betrayed you - made it easy for companies to underfund and take away benefits. We can do better. We'll do better with me in the Senate.
3. Tax-free year legislation. You can earn income tax-free starting at a certain age.
Chuck: Universal Single Payer Health Care. Bi-Lateral Trade. Living Wage legislation. How are we going to pay? We'll save a ton in the first year of USPHC by cutting administrative costs. Let's join the 20th century. That'll restore our economic strength. He told the story about Toyota choosing not to locate here because of health care issues.
Bi-Lat trade will get at the immigration issue. We can leverage that living wage against every other country in the world.
Restoring progressive taxation - something that made the US the economic super power in the world - especially the top 2%ers who've been freeloading and destroying our economy in the process.
Casey - We're talking about health care. I'd like to support a bill that takes on specific initiatives in these three areas: early childhood ed for all, return to fiscal discipline by enacting my corp welfare proposal wherein a commission would save tens of billions every year. Third: ethics reform. What has passed has been too weak. Santorum should have done something about that.
Sandals: Chuck you're too unrealistic. Bi-Lat trade won't work. Casey you're too tame. Your proposals don't go far enough or fast enough.
Question Two: Congress is paralyzed on immigration. How would you solve the problem of 12 million immigrants, employers who hire them and our border security?
Chuck: Good framing. The immigration issue touches all those issues. Immigrants are everywhere in the country. Companies need to be held accountable. Only way to do that is to have campaign finance reform. We need candidates who are PAC-free, not taking money from those companies. We have solved immigration crises before by lifting Americans out of poverty. I'm not naive - I'm a historian. I'm the only one who addresses the root issues of these questions.
Casey: On immigration we saw what happened. The real issue is something that the Bush Ad. can do right now - getting tough on employers who employ undocumented workers. Get tough on audits, fines. Since '90 the number of audits and fines has gone down. We have to get serious about enforcing our borders. Some of the legislation talks about that. But we have to get tough on employers right now.
Sandals: We can do better at the borders but we don't want to go overboard - can't afford a guard every three feet. Must stop drug and human traficking. Even more important is that the undoc workers are driving wages down. Undoc workers work in fear. Next tier of workers are then afraid to rock the boat. We need to reduce the pool of undoc workers. On April 10 I was proud to stand on the platform with Latinos and Koreans and people working for citizenship.
Chuck: Again, I'm going to underscore the root problems time and time again tonight. You can't call to make business acountable when you take money from them. Casey and Santorum take money from the same companies. Washington will change when we change the way we do politics.
Three: Same Sex Marriage? Repeal Defense of Marriage Act?
Casey: No same sex marriage. But I do support civil unions. Gotta broaden and enforce anti-discrimination laws. The GOP will push issues to divide and demonize people. After all these years of American people making sure that the Constitution protects our rights, we shouldn't write discrimination back into the Constitution. We should come together. Treat people with respect. Abe Lincoln said we should appeal to better angels. We should do that too.
Sandals: Let's be candid. I'm going to speak to you as I would a client. The DOMA is a terrible act of pandering to the right wing in this country. Your rights to SocSec benefits, VA benefits and hundreds others depend on being married and the DOMA says marriage is between a man and a woman. We all know gay or lesbian people. They deserve the same rights under the Constitution. It's that simple. We don't discriminate in America.
Chuck: I'm a Constitutional historian. I take very seriously our Declaration of Independence. We are an organic experiment. Right now we are failing that experiment. We are not extending equal rights to every American. Denying a woman's right to choose is denying rights. I support Civil Unions. The frame of your question - marriage - is really a cultural question. Gay and lesbian Americans deserve equal rights as a matter of equal rights to be extended to all Americans.
Casey: I just had a thought. This question comes up in the context of the American family. The Am. family is under severe economic stress. So to those who are going to divide people by talking about stress to the American family, which is worse? Having two gay people living down the street or losing your job?
Question Four: BushCo wants his tax cuts to be permanent. What do you say to that?
Sandals: No. Not for the top 2%, who are getting maybe 60% of the benefit of the cuts. It's shortsighted and foolish to rob the country of the ability to invest in the future. Only the big money donors to BushCo and Santorum want them to stay in place. Let's face it, we can't do all the things we need to do if we have a gov't that's literally going out of business thanks to these tax cuts. Go back to Clinton-era taxes. Build private accounts on top of Soc Sec (that' s Clinton for sure).
Chuck: Taxation is a question that pols are running away from. I'm the only one who wants to rescind not only the cuts to the top 2% who are "filthy wealthy" "greedy!" but also to go back to progressive taxation. We need to raise the marginal rate on the top 2% to 50%. You can compare that to Eisenhower's time when the marginal rate was 90%. 50% is no sweat off their brow. If you look at all the accumulated debt in the country it comes to $146,000(?)/person in the country. I can beat Rick Santorum because I'm the only one taking positions that are fair.
Casey: Answer is simple when it comes to the top 1%. I said in front of 1200 business leaders in Philly: If there is an opportunity to repeal the tax cut to the top 1%, I'll do that. We can't afford it any longer. Time of crises in health care. Time of staggering deficits. Trade deficit, National debt. But we can have tax relief for the middle class.
Sandals: I'm the only candidate who makes a payroll every month. There wasn't anything in the GOP tax cuts that created jobs. They've only created more inequity.
Question Five: What would make you filibuster a SCOTUS nominee?
Chuck: Partisanship is coming from one side. GOP controls the government completely. The nominations of Roberts and especially Alito is an affront to our basic rights. Casey endorsed both of those nominees. They are at war with our fundamental rights. They are doing the bidding of corporate America at the expense of workers, our envirnoment, women, our children. I want them to prove that they stand up for equal rights. It was a shame to watch my party let Alito through. And as for filibustering, I wouldn't ask permission from my colleagues. You lead by leading.
Casey: We need the filibuster so we should never use it because the GOP will get rid of it if we do. So we must preserve it for a lot of reasons. (that's a paraphrase of what he said) No litmus test on either side. You should have series of considerations that you weigh seriously: character, experience, judicial temperment, judicial philosphy - weigh all that carefully and seriously, without partisanship.
Sandals: I stand alone. I stand at lecterns like this going head to head against Reagan-appointed judges, Bush One-appointed judges. Your rights are not safe. Don't think they are. Chuck and I opposed the Alito nomination. He was bad for labor. That wasn't good enough for Bob. He was bad for the environment. That wasn't good enough for Bob. He was bad on women's rights. That wasn't good enough for Bob. He was bad on Civil Rights. That wasn't good enough for Bob. C'mon Bob, where do you stand? Be brave.
Chuck: Feed dropped out.
Casey: You have to do my series of qualications thing, Alan. One thing with Alito stood out. He spoke directly to the question of privacy. He supported Griswold and that was important - that's why I supported him. (Uh oh. So there you go. Roe can go but he'll draw the line at Griswold.)
Question Six: Would you turn down lobbyists' donation to your campaign?
Casey: Our system is broken. Earmarks are out of control. If an earmark is so worthy, then it should be subject to scruntiny of the Congress. We need dramatic lobbying, ethics and earmark reform. "I actually have a record on this." (good for you, Bob!) Nothing wrong with getting projects for your state but do it in the light of day.
Seven: Would you turn down money from lobbyists? And what about earmarks?
Casey: I've accepted money from lobbyists. The question is what impact does that money have on your vote. Everyone who knows me knows that I'm very independent. I'll be focused on needs of Pennsylvanians not the special interests in D.C.
Sandals: Pennsylvanians are familiar with things that creep in in the night. How about that pay raise that the PA Gen. Assembly voted for themselves? Where was Bob when that happened? And we're also talking abou tax giveaways. Close those loopholes, special breaks and giveaways. I turn down lobbyists' money. I do not accept trade group or corporate PAC money. I did take money from the Feminist Majority PAC. I'm proud of that endorsement. Women's rights are at risk.
Chuck: I am the only PAC-free, special interest-free candidate. I'm the only candidate positioned to take on this issue. That's why I'm going to win this race. I'm the only clean candidate. In order to get that endorsement, Alan sold his position. Alan believed in parental consent before. He doesn't now. He flipped his position. There's no such thing as a free lunch. For career politicians, you don't bite the hand that feeds you. I'm not a career politician. I'm not looking to change careers. I'm looking to improve people's lives.
Casey: Don't forget Santorum! Nobody is as bad as Santorum.
Sandals: On the flip: I learn fast. I learned the issue. I changed my mind. I've worked with abused children for twenty years. Judicial bypass is a fiction.
Question Eight: Energy policy. How will you move the country to energy independence and how would you protect the environment?
Sandals: We are in an emergency. Gas prices, natural gas prices will go higher and higher. Will factories shut down? Will jobs be lost? It's global warming. Can you look your kids and grandkids in the eye and say that you are doing all you can to make sure the world they live in will be sustainable? We should have a national contest. (to enourage development of alternative energy.) "Our kids and grand kids will curse us forever."
Chuck: This is a national security question. We need to change our relationship with the globe. We need to develop alternative energies. They exist at our fingertips. It's simply a matter of the gov't moving on it. Deep Throat said: Follow the money. I've been talking about that all night. The money, the lobbying money, the special interest money. The oil industry has bought politicians in D.C. We need to renewables, enhance dip relations with rest of world, get out of Iraq. We invaded an oil-rich country that had nothing to do with 9/11. We have to signal to the world that we are serious about this.
Casey: We need a US Senator who isn't in the pocket of big oil. Santorum is. The BushCo administration can pressure the Saudis right now to lower prices. The GOP in Congress can investigate oil company profits right now. Our incomes are suffering, they're getting richer. We have to pursue a policy that addresses global warming, reduce emissions and do a number of other things. And no more energy bills that give away to energy companies. And we need a candidate who has the endorsement of environmental groups. I do.
Sandals: Bob - It's too little too late. Chuck - You have to get realistic. Nothing you said will work. Finance reform will take too long. We need a windfall profits tax to invest in aid to people who need help heating and cooling their homes.
Question Nine: National security
Chuck: National security rests on international security. We have to bring home the national guard tomorrow to protect us domestically. We are weaker today than we were on 9/11. We are treating our troops like trash right now. We don't take care of them when they come back damaged. That's part of homeland security. Enhancing our education system. This is homeland security. It's about strengthening our rights at home. It's about getting jobs in Pennsylvania. Let's bring trains back. Let's bring steel back.
Casey: We don't need a new bill. We need to do what we should be doing. The 9/11 Commission has given this administration failing grades on Homeland Security. We have a roadmap already for adequate policies to protect our homeland in place already. State, county and municipal gov't are doing their jobs. The failure is at the fed level. Santorum. BushCo. That report came out and there wasn't a wimper from Santorum. We need an independent senator not voting with BushCo 98% of the time.
Sandals: Follow the oil. We need to be weaned off of oil. Money goes to the Middle East. People there are in extreme poverty and are attracted to extreme politics. We need to change our relationship with oil-producing states tomorrow. We have to get smart about homeland security. Do sensible things - can't let it bankrupt us. The UK and Israel deal with terrorism all the time ( they are the size of New Jersey, Alan) National Security is treated as a feeding trough for companies. We have to police that and stop people from ripping off the gov't.
Chuck: I have the background in national security. I've studied these issues intensely. Read Richard Clark's Against All Enemies. Turn our national sec. attentions to countries that are vulnerable to being taken over by enemies: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia ... sixty countries around the world where al Qaeda has a presence. I have the expertise to do that.
Question Ten: Iraq? Whaddawegonnado?
Casey: I don't favor immediate withdrawal. We are led by a dishonest administration that hasn't been held accountable. We need the BushCo admin. to be honest. We need an independent senator. Our troops are great. PA troops are great. We haven't had leadership. We haven't had accountability. What are wegonnado going forward? BushCo should demonstrate to the Am. people that he is doing everything he must be doing. Building infrastructure. We need to use all the diplomatic and political power to make sure that works very well for the Iraqi poeple. And the Iraqis must pull their weight. (this answer is a whole lot of nothing) We need an independent senator.
Sandals: I support withdrawal along the lines of what Murtha talks about. Leave some troops to guard borders, watch hotspots. We are shephearding a civil war. We need to take the training wheels off. (Hey - he stole that from Dear Leader. It was a stupid metaphor then and it is now) We aren't doing the Iraqis any favors hanging around. They need to get that gov't going over there. Bob said we need to hold the administration accountable but he also said that he'd vote against censure. You have to stand up and be brave.
Chuck: Let's all ask for the resignation of Rummy. Right now! Les Aspin was driven out of office over Mogadishu. This SecDef is incompetent. He doesn't take advice and denies that it's been offered. We can support our troops and by redeploying them to actual hot spots that threaten our national interests. Those countries that threaten us need economic support and trade to counter the appeal of Wahabists. Iraq is another Vietnam. There is no stability on the ground there. Let's give the 3500 year old society a chance and get out of there "pronto."
Question Eleven: Nukes. Who's the biggest threat?
Sandals: N. Korea and Iran! They are charter members of the Axis of Evil. (Alan is really rocking wtih the BushCoisms now) We need to use a combination of threats and enticements. We need to get them to move processing of uranium to a third party country to be monitored. Iran must be stopped because they are willing to be reckless. The other threat is N. Korea. We have a team of countries working there. BushCo went AWOL and wasted time in Iraq. We need as many friends as we can get to deal with Iran and N. Korea.
Chuck: There's a laundry list of countries that pose a threat. N. Korea is a source of loose nukes. Suitcase bomb can be brought into Philly, Manahattan. We don't talk about loose nukes enough. We need to embrace the Nuc. Non Prolif. Treaty. We are at our greatest when we lead by our moral suasion. We need to reconnect with the larger globe and get our control back. As far as Iran, we need to stop the tough talk. Casey said we should keep the nuke option on the table. This is not an approach that ever works. We have to learn from history. We have to be smart as well as tough.
Casey: On Iran. The BushCo admin must do everything possible to be sure that Iran doesn't develop nuclear capabilities - everything possible. All of its econ power. All of it's trade influence. Diplomatic influence. Influence of allies. Iran is threat to Israel, region, United States and the world. The administration needs to tell us the truth. We need to leave all options on the table, including our military to get the job done - but you don't start with that.
N. Korea: same strategy generally. Pursue all the options. Meet frequently. Have a coalition built to make sure that NK doesn't expand beyond it's several nuclear bombs already.
Question Twelve: Is the trade deficit a problem? What should we do?
Chuck: Trade def is huge. China hold 22% of our national debt. Chinese have behaved in less than responsible ways. US has to take the lead and be smart. China is a potential military adversary. China abrogates international law. We're awfully soft on China right now.
On India - and China really - we're outsourcing middle class jobs there. We need to take a fair trade approach - not a free trade approach, which gives the advantage to corporatations.
Casey: We're in so much agreement! Fair trade is relevant here. The adminstration has negotiated agreements but they weren't fair. American worker can't compete with places where there aren't human rights, environmental policies ... We have econ policies that push our jobs overseas. Rick Santorum hasn't stood up against that. We need not only fair trade but also investment in our workforce. We need to invest in early childhood programs to make sure our workers are ready for the future.
On China - I hope that BushCo is pushing the Chinese president on human rights so that we can compete.
Sandals: We have to do better. We have to be more realistic. (Someone told him that his strength is that he's the progressive realist - third way, kinda guy.) Globalization means that we are going to lose manufacturing AND service jobs. We don't wish evil on the economies on India but we need our eyes open. We need an 18 month moratorium on outsourcing. We have to get serious. Fair trade isn't going to work unless you want an inspector at every sweatshop. That's why I want a moratorium.
Question Thirteen: Why would you be better than Santorum?
Casey: It's a question over wheter we're going to be represented by a senator that has procided over the loss of jobs, the loss of health care, and over corruption. I will be on the side of the American family. I will beat Rick Santorum in November.
Sandals: If he lived in PA, he might be a better Senator, right? Mr. Santorum votes against us all the time. He votes against his own children all the time. He'd be a better senator if he asked his kids if this would be the best thing for them.
Chuck: True independence means not having to look over your shoulder. Santorum is the recipent of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of special interest dollars. I am the only 100% PAC-free candidate. He's somebody who strikes fear in people, who preaches bigotry and hatred and he's owned by corporate interests. I don't do that.
Sandals: I hope we can post this on the internet. I tell the truth all the time. Who is the best person to take apart Rick Santorum? I have a record of fighting for Pennsylvanians. And we need common sense. I am realistic. I find the middle ground. We don't need to be timid. We don't need exageration. I am ready to lead you. Please give me your vote on May 16th.
Chuck: I've been working for social justice for 33 years and delivering on the environment, social justice, labor. I've organized for Tom Harkin, Tim Worth. I'm the only one who's worked in Congress. I know how Washington works and right now it stinks. I know that sometimes the only way to change things is to rattle the cage and take on our own party leaders. We need somebody who is an historian and not a lawyer. Somebody who is a national security expert. Somebody who isn't going to be looking over his shoulder. We are in crisis but from crisis comes opportunity. On every issue, I am different from these other candidates. Elect me on May 16th and we'll go to D.C. together.
Casey: Thanks everyone. Thanks Chuck Pennacchio. Thanks Alan Sandals. There's still some time left in this primary process. I ask everyone in this audience tonight and at home watching, for your vote humbly and respectfully to take on Rick Santorum in November. We need to move in a new direction. We're on a road of deficit debt and division. It's a road of far too much partisanship and ideology (he definitely doens't have to worry about being true to any ideology) There are certain values we share as Americans and as Pennsylvanians. We care about each other. We take care of our children and of people in the twilight of their lives. That's what's at stake in this election. So many important decisions need to be made. I ask for your vote humbly.
The show on PCN right now is good. The panel is worried that Casey won't fire up the base. They're saying that if the Dems stay home, then the GOP wins. Duh.
On more debates: They say that Casey would be a fool to do more debates. Goal is to get through this primary and that's it. Again, duh. Such a brave campaign the Dems are running. Truly inspiring.
One guy is saying that we won't hear from Casey again now until the fall. Does that show any respect at all for the voters of PA? Good lord. I blame the voters for not demanding more. What have we become?