Thursday night's 3rd District congressional debate was another opportunity for voters to see the clear differences between their choices for the seat. And once again, the experience of Phil English outshone the negative campaign tactics of Kathy Dahlkemper.
"The choice is between a proven, independent voice for northwestern Pennsylvania and someone who will echo talking points from Nancy Pelosi," said Congressman Phil English. "Kathy Dahlkemper isn't the kind of change we need for our communities, families and businesses."
Taxes were one of the clearest areas of difference between the two. "Kathy Dahlkemper's tax ideas would be devastating to our local economy," said English. "Middle-class families can't afford to pay the extra $2,300 a year that the Dahlkemper's proposals would cost them. And with the economy slowing, Kathy Dahlkemper's ideas about raising taxes don't make sense for the district or the country."
"I have always held the line and said no to tax increases that kill jobs and create burdens for families," said English.
Dahlkemper said she is representative of the district and lived the same as other people. "Kathy Dahlkemper's a millionaire with a lakefront estate in New York," said English. "That's not how most people live. She just doesn't understand how much her tax policies will hurt middle class families that work for a living."
With the winter coming, Kathy Dahlkemper repeated her suggestion that people conserve energy by walking and biking. "Kathy Dahlkemper's energy policy means higher prices for families and businesses. She has opposed drilling on even one additional acre," said English. "I have been an advocate of more domestic energy. We can't be dependent on energy sources in unstable, unfriendly countries. I have favored conservation, new technologies and drilling for natural gas and oil. My energy policy would keep prices low for families and create new jobs for area companies in energy industries."
"I've carried the message about western Pennsylvania businesses around the world to help expand markets for our local industries," said English. "We've seen major employers like GE selling their locomotives in Asia. Small businesses like DuraTite are selling duct fittings in Mexico and the Middle East."
"Kathy Dahlkemper thinks it's wrong to travel and try to create more markets and jobs for local companies," said English. "Ignoring opportunities to promote our local industries isn't the way to create more local jobs."
English also pointed to his record of standing up for fair trade. "I've been the strongest spokesman in the Congress on closing loopholes that Chinese companies use to try to steal jobs and prosperity from American companies," English said. "And I've fought for changes to the tax code to encourage companies to bring profits home and create jobs here for U.S. workers."
The candidates also addressed the tone of the campaign. "Kathy Dahlkemper has run a negative campaign paid for by hot money from liberal groups outside the district," English said. "They're not interested in who does the right thing for western Pennsylvania. They're interested in buying a congressional seat for Dahlkemper to vote the way Nancy Pelosi tells her to."
"Even Rudy Giuliani noticed the negative Dahlkemper campaign when he came to Erie to endorse me," said English. "Rudy Giuliani said Dahlkemper's negative campaign was about increasing Nancy Pelosi's power, not helping the people of western Pennsylvania."
Social Security and Medicare was another area where English's experience gave him the edge. "Yesterday, it was my great pleasure to welcome the executive vice president of the National Committee for the Preservation of Social Security and Medicare, who came to Erie to endorse my re-election," said English. "I earned that endorsement by saying no to privatization and any other proposal that would weaken Social Security and Medicare."
"I also used my position as a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee to make sure that the nation invests in Social Security and Medicare," said English. "We have a responsibility as a nation to help guarantee a secure retirement."