Politics & Policy

Comparing Pat Meehan’s and Bryan Lentz’s Recovery Plans

Contending for the open seat vacated by Joe Sestak, Republican Pat Meehan and Democrat Bryan Lentz are squaring off in Pennsylvania’s 7th district, which encompasses most of Delaware County outside of Philadelphia.

Their race is in some ways like a proxy battle between two titans. President Obama explicitly endorsed Bryan Lentz last week, urging support for his candidacy. Earlier this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited Meehan to stump for him as a friend and colleague.

And now, six months after his opponent laid out a “recovery plan,” Pat Meehan has unveiled his own economic agenda.

Meehan’s seven-point plan:

1. Institute a payroll tax holiday for a period of six months

2. Reduce the capital gains tax to encourage investment, particularly on investments made during the start up phase of a business

3. Provide tax credits for businesses hiring their first or second employee

4. Encourage investment in America by reducing the corporate tax rate by 15 percent

5. Extend all tax relief from the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts

6. Eliminate the death tax that hurts family-owned businesses

7. Repeal and replace health care reform

The boldest points are, I think, his payroll tax holiday and 15 percent corporate tax rate. Overall, this is a substantive, fairly modest economic agenda that seems like it would make sense to most voters.

Lentz’s plan:

1. Creating jobs through a capital investment tax write-off

2. Establishing a fiscal commission to erase the deficit and stabilize Social Security and Medicare

3. Adapting to a changing economy with education and training

4. Taking advantage of new economic opportunities in green energy and infrastructure

5. Holding Wall Street accountable and creating a consumer financial protection agency

Lentz’s plan, on the other hand, reads more like an aspirational document. When is the last time a government commission erased or stabilized spending?

Most telling, though, is #3, using “education and training” to “adapt to a changing economy.” In other words, his jobs plan carries the implicit acknowledgment that the unemployed are going to stay unemployed for the foreseeable future — until they’re sufficiently trained. And then, maybe, just maybe, they’ll get a job.

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