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The upcoming Pennsylvania Republican primary offers the tightest Senate primary in the country and promises to go down to the wire. Once holding a commanding lead in the polls, incumbent Senator Arlen Specter is now facing a stiff challenge from Congressman Pat Toomey. This race will decide who will face Democratic Congressman Joe Hoeffel in the November general election.
CSE recently sent both candidates the 2004 CSE Candidate Survey which asks each candidate where they stand on CSE’s Freedom Agenda. The results show the Toomey-Specter race is truly a tale of two candidates. As highlighted by the candidate survey, CSE’s Freedom Agenda includes:
While Congressman Pat Toomey immediately responded and returned the survey, Senator Arlen Specter has refused to answer it. A comparison of the responses and voting behavior of Senator Specter and Congressman Pat Toomey illustrates the stark difference the two candidates regarding major issues in the Freedom Agenda.
Taxes: In his three terms in Congress, Congressman Toomey has never voted for a tax increase. In his four terms in the Senate, Senator Specter has voted for five major tax increases, including two of the largest tax hikes in history at the time, and voted against cutting taxes 8 times. Toomey voted to require a Super Majority of Congress to raise taxes while Specter voted against the Super Majority. While Congressman Toomey introduced an aggressive $2.1 trillion tax cut and supported the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, Senator Specter fought to reduce the 2001 Bush tax cuts by $250 billion. Congressman Toomey supports the permanent repeal of the Death tax, supports making the Bush 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, and supports fundamental tax reform that includes the flat tax.
Senator Specter refused to answer such questions.
Congressman Toomey has earned a lifetime grade of an A from The National Taxpayer Union and was called a “Taxpayer Superhero” in 2001. Senator Specter has earned a lifetime grade of a C from The National Taxpayer Union which earns him the label as lukewarm to taxpayers.
Social Security: Congressman Toomey is a champion of true Social Security reform. Congressman Toomey supports reform that: guarantees promised benefits for the currently retired and nearly retired, does not increase taxes, and allows workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in Personal Retirement Accounts. In contrast, Senator Specter’s plan to save Social Security is the same as Al Gore’s plan during the 2000 Presidential Election. Specter supports a “lockbox” which does nothing to reform the broken system.
Tort Reform: Congressman Toomey supports tort reform that will stop greedy trial lawyers. He has voted in support of product liability reform and voted for the Class Action Fairness Act which makes it easier for class action suits to be moved to federal courts, where judges are appointed for life, have broader national interests than state judges, and where the rules for certifying a “class” are more transparent and fair. Senator Specter has voted in opposition to caps in product liability cases and voted against reforms to the medical malpractice insurance system. He also voted yes on a bill that would allow HMO’s to be sued for punitive damages. Senator Specter’s biggest campaign contributors just happen to be trial lawyers.
School Choice: Congressman Toomey supports educational reform based on parental choice. He supports school choice initiatives and wants to end the public school monopoly on educating America’s youth. He voted in support of school choice in Washington, D.C., allowing parents to move their children out of failing public schools. Specter’s answer to improve education in America is through increased federal spending without advocating reform. Senator Specter supports the education monopoly of public schools while opposing school choice initiatives. Specter believes the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly that school vouchers do not violate the separation of church and state and opposed school choice in Washington, D.C. In hypocritical fashion, Senator Specter pulled his own children out of the public schools in Philadelphia and placed them in private schools because the Philadelphia public school system was inferior to private schools.
Budget: Congressman Toomey has been a major fighter against enlarging the federal budget and eliminating government waste. Toomey is the chair of the Republican Study Committee’s Task Force on Budget and Tax-a group dedicated to reducing wasteful spending, lowering taxes, and balancing the federal budget. He was one of only 25 House Republican members to vote against the bloated Medicare drug bill and has earned a lifetime rating of 94 percent from Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW). Senator Specter is a classic tax and spend politician. He supported the Medicare drug bill and was voted the Porker of the Month in October 2003 for “stuffing the fiscal 2003 Emergency Supplemental portion of the fiscal 2004 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act with pork-barrel projects.” CAGW then rewarded Senator Specter with the 2003 Porker of the Year by a 2-to-1 margin over the next closest nominee.
The April 27th primary in Pennsylvania will offer voters a clear choice between candidates. Pat Toomey has supported CSE’s Freedom Agenda in his three terms in Congress while Senator Specter has spent his four terms in the Senate pursuing tax and spend policies. This primary offers voters with the option of supporting one candidate that supports freedom and individual liberty and another who thinks the government should make decisions for you.