Sunday, July 5, 2015

A thoughtful senator seeking common ground

Americans are fed up with Congress. It has become so entangled in partisan gamesmanship that it typically resorts to stopgap measures because its members can’t agree on long-term solutions.

A thoughtful senator seeking common ground

Sen. Bob Casey
Sen. Bob Casey

Americans are fed up with Congress. It has become so entangled in partisan gamesmanship that it typically resorts to stopgap measures because its members can’t agree on long-term solutions.

That won’t change until more people are elected to Congress who are willing to work with their political foes for the common good. Such a person is Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, whose quiet persistence has become an anomaly in Washington, where the shrillest voice usually gets the most attention.

Casey has worked with Republicans on economic issues. He and Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) have teamed up on several occasions to promote the state’s interests, including their cooperating to select federal judges and help Pennsylvania businesses.

Last year, Casey was named head of the Joint Economic Committee, which studies the economy and reports to Congress. He has used the post to address the trade imbalance with South Korea, seek tougher sanctions for intellectual-property theft, and support tax cuts for small businesses.

With a study on the economic impact of closing the Trainer refinery, Casey laid some of the groundwork for pushing Conoco Phillips to find a buyer that would keep the facility open.

Casey’s Republican opponent, Armstrong County coal company founder Tom Smith, hasn’t elevated his campaign beyond its ads spouting predictable tea-party-inspired talking points. Smith says he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, but doesn’t say how he’d replace it. He wants to water down banking regulations and consumer protections needed to prevent another fiscal meltdown.

The coal man — surprise, surprise — doubts fossil fuels play a role in climate change. He says he would open public lands to mining and drilling while cutting funds for renewable energy.

Like Casey, Smith opposes abortion. But unlike Casey, he would deny abortions even to the victims of rape and incest. Shockingly, Smith said having a child as a result of a rape is similar to having a baby out of wedlock.

Rather than being thoughtful, Smith has been parroting extreme right-wing points of view. There’s too much of that in Congress now. What Congress needs is more thoughtful leaders capable of finding common ground. The Inquirer endorses BOB CASEY, a strong advocate for Pennsylvania who would help restore the civility that Washington needs.

As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Casey fought reactionary efforts to cut U.S. aid to Middle Eastern nations where anti-American riots have occurred. He has also fought to give employers tax breaks for hiring new workers, to raise the salaries of current workers, and to make agriculture subsidies reasonable.

Casey doesn’t walk in lockstep with the Democratic leadership. He acknowledges some shortcomings in President Obama’s stimulus package, and notes the lack of cost-containment measures in the Affordable Care Act. But he disagrees with those who would repeal Obamacare to improve it. An advocate for workers, fair trade, and education reform, Casey deserves a second term.

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The Inquirer Editorial Board's Say What? opinion blog showcases the work of the editors and writers who produce the newspaper's daily and Sunday opinion pages.

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