Sestak said he had to clean up the mess left behind by irresponsible spending and tax-cutting under President George W. Bush. "We'd been torpedoed and had to caulk the holes," he said.
The two actually agreed that the tone of their race had grown negative, but neither accepted blame for it. Both defended their ads as issues-based and accurate.
His rival agreed with him on that one. "I agree with Joe that the most important national security issue long term is the economic viability of our country," Toomey said.
Toomey accused Sestak of supporting policies of bigger spending and higher taxes. He argued that such policies are have "a chilling effect on our ability to create jobs." Sestak attacked Toomey's pro-business stance. Pointing to the backdrop of the debate hall, Sestak said, "It says above us in Constitution Hall, 'We the People.' Not, 'We the Corporations'"
Sestak's ads have targeted Toomey as far to the right. One uses Toomey's own words, saying his record is "indistinguishable" from staunchly conservative former Sen. Rick Santorum's. Ads from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee rip Toomey for his support of free trade and votes for policies the group says have shipped American jobs to China.
The free-market advocacy group Club for Growth, which Toomey once led, bought $1 million worth of advertising time in the Philadelphia media market Thursday for a new ad attacking Sestak as "just another liberal" dancing to the tune of President Obama and the Democratic leadership. "Yes, Joe Sestak served honorably in the Navy," the new 30-second spot says. "His service in Congress is the problem."
Sestak has endorsed legislation that would bring Marcellus Shale drilling under the oversight of the Safe Drinking Water Act. He has echoed Pres. Obama's call for a strict moratorium on offshore drilling.
Those issues have provided ammunition for persistent sniping: "Toomey sides with Big Oil in the wake of BP disaster," Sestak charged in a press statements. "On energy, Sestak to the left of many Democrats," a Toomey statement contended.
Toomey claims Sestak's voting record is more liberal than the views of his state on energy as on other issues. On cap and trade, for example, Toomey notes that four of Sestak's colleagues in the House Democratic delegation voted against the bill. All of those Democratic "no" votes came from districts carried by Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.
In Congress and later as president of the Club for Growth, Toomey argued that a major solution to the nation's energy problems was in increasing the supply of domestically produced oil, whether from the ocean floor or from such currently protected areas as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Sestak said global warming is principally man-made, citing a series of scientific findings on the matter.
The opponents split this week on a closely watched Senate bill that would have stripped the EPA of the ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.
Sestak's campaign said he would have opposed the measure. Toomey supported the bill, calling the EPA's regulatory proposals a back-door effort to institute a cap-and-trade system, which is stalled in the Senate.
Toomey said he admired Sestak's creative mind, but said his opponent did not understand the financial system. The real threat to the economy, he said, is in the billions of dollars spent on bailouts for banks and the auto industry, along with the economic stimulus and now a health-care regime that he said were all pushing the deficit to stratospheric levels. "Some people believe if you are productive and successful you should get soaked and get soaked hard. I just don't believe in that," Toomey said. He said productive companies and entrepreneurs create jobs. "We need to prevent this radical Democratic agenda, get spending under control, and cut taxes where we can, and we'll see the economy come roaring back," he said.
The two candidates found some common ground on questions geared toward the economy. Both said federal spending needs to be reduced.
"When I was (in Congress) I was fighting against the spending that was going on," said Toomey.
Sestak said he would like to see the government extend help to the group he says drives the economy--"The working family, not Wall Street"--by getting tax cuts to that group.
Sestak said he does not support the flat tax as he said Toomey does, and the government should look to guarantee community bank loans to entice borrowers.
Toomey said he believes in strengthening the economy through lower taxes, less spending and increasing domestic energy production.
Toomey lashed back saying he would work to repeal health care reform and replace it with other measures such as the purchase of insurance across state lines.
The above quotations are from 2010 Pennsylvania Senate Debates.
Click here for other excerpts from 2010 Pennsylvania Senate Debates.
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