U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic nominee for Senate, launched his first television commercial of the fall campaign Tuesday, with a populist spot attacking his Republican opponent as a corporate tool.
In face, former U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey loves corporations so much he thinks they shouldn’t pay any taxes, the ad says, showing a clip of Toomey advocating elimination of the corporate tax during an interview with CNBC in 2007.
“The middle class is struggling,” an announcer says, as a series of still photographs of worried families flashes on the screen, looking like Dorothea Lange shots of the Great Depression. "Pat Toomey. He's for them . . . not for us," the ad concludes.
The move comes after weeks of attack ads by Toomey and advocacy groups supporting the Republican, branding Sestak as “too liberal” by citing his votes for bailouts and the federal stimulus, among other Obama administration policies.
Two weeks ago, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee began running ads that zeroed in on Toomey's former career as a Wall Street trader in derivatives, as well as his past advocacy of loosening regulation of the financial industry.
Toomey enjoys an average lead of 45 percent to 38 percent in polls, according to Pollster.com, a website that aggregates results of all independent polls in the race.
Sestak's campaign has booked at least $110,870 worth of time on broadcast and cable television in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie Johnstown, and Wilkes-Barre, according to sources who track media buys. The campaign has reserved time through Sept. 6. For now, no ads are scheduled for the Philadelphia area.
When he was interviewed on CNBC, Toomey was president of the Club for Growth, an advocacy group for lower taxes and fewer regulations on business to spur economic growth. In the Senate campaign, Toomey has talked about the U.S.’s relatively high corporate tax burden and advocated lowering it to encourage job-creating investment. (Many economists agree that the corporate tax should be simplified and lowered, to make American companies more competitive internationally; a zero-rate corporate tax is a minority position.)
Toomey does not support a zero corporate-tax rate, "understanding that it is impractical for a host of reasons," said spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik. She said that the zero rate mentioned on CNBC was part of an "intellecutal exercise," and that Toomey was reinforcing his point that consumers ultimately pay the cost of high business taxes.
The candidate does not have a set percentage in mind, just believes that the rate should be lowered, Soloveichik said.
Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.