Politics & Policy

Live: The First Toomey-Sestak Pa. Senate Debate

The first of two debates between Pat Toomey and Joe Sestak is taking place tonight in Philadelphia, and Battle ‘10 will be covering the 7-8pm debate live right here.


“Washington really has to start giving tax credits for every new payroll job [businesses] create. … Zero capital gains taxes for small businesses.” [Toomey] believes its about corporations and creating jobs elsewhere,” says Sestak.

I’m the candidate who’s actually created jobs,” says Toomey, blames “spending money on a scale I’ve never thought possible.” Blames Sestak for voting for “every item” as part of “overreach of government” is suffocating jobs.

Sestak says Toomey didn’t actually run his business in Allentown, says he has “no credibility or track record” in creating jobs. Cites Clinton administration job creation as a plus for him.

Toomey says “my brothers and I know very well I was very actively involves in the business,” and “Joe wants much higher taxes on businesses and individuals and labor. We need to get spending under control, lower taxes, and get the kind of incentives to get job growth going again,” says Toomey.

Sarah Palin Endorsement

Pat says he “welcomes endorsements” from across political spectrum. “I think right now we’re at an inflection point for our country,” says Toomey. Sestak has tried to “dramatically expand size and scope” of government. Cites children’s future as motivator, and “welcomes all allies” in getting “out of control” government under control for prosperity.

Sestak says Palin endorsement is “very coveted,” says he “understands” anger of the Tea Party. “What I’m most concerned about is those candidates who take advantage of extreme” end of Tea Party. Says some want to do away with 14th amendment, says some want an American theocracy, says they think corporations should have zero taxes.

“The person who is the extreme candidate … is Joe Sestak,” says Toomey. “Look at his agenda … he voted for all the bailouts, every single one,” and “then introduced his a bill to create his own bailout.” 

Sestak says his job as “problem solver” was to control damage of Bush administration and Pat Toomey.

Social Security

“We have to preserve for our seniors Social Security,” says Sestak. “I applaud your fortune on Wall Street,” says Sestak to Toomey. “The youth pay into Social Security,” says Sestak, so Toomey’s privatization option for young people would be unworkable.

“My dad is 80 years old,” says Toomey, they rely on Social Security. “I would never do anything that would jeopardize benefits for people in retirement or close to retirement.”

“I’ve also looked at reality we face as a nation,” says Toomey, “and I want to make this program last for future generations. We could offer young people some reforms,” to rectify “reckless spending that Joe Sestak has voted for” that would “jeopardize ability to honor our commitment” to Social Security.

Sestak cites Toomey’s book, The Road to Prosperity, and says Toomey would “risk” retirement savings in stock market. “You’re with the corporations on Wall Street.”

Toomey cites nonprofit Vanguard, which manages “hundreds of billions,” in Pennsylvania, and says young people should be given choice to invest with such a firm. Joe’s solutions are to “raise taxes, and in the case of Social Security, cut benefits.”

“The kind of spending he has done is the single greatest threat” to Social Security, says Toomey.


Toomey says “abortion is a tough issue” and “good people” are on both sides. Says he is pro-life, and would accept ban on abortion excepting rape, incest, etc. Says he would support repeal of Roe v. Wade, but says “I’ve never advocated a litmus test for Supreme Court justices,” and cites his support for Sotomayer’s nomination as proof.

“Palin, Toomey, O’Donnell, they’d all like to reverse Roe v. Wade,” … “I don’t think government should intervene,” says Sestak. Brings up hate crimes, shifts to assualt weapons and guns, avoiding further abortion talk. Says Toomey is “too extreme” for mainstream Pennsylvania.

The “extreme view” says Toomey, is that there should be “no restrictions” and taxpayers should fund partial birth abortions, says Toomey. “He doesn’t respect right of law abiding citizens to own firearms, in many ways,” says Toomey.

Toomey says, “when you’re being dishonest, I’m going to call you on it,” and Sestak re-iterates voting against taxpayer funding for abortion.

“Everybody can look this up,” says Toomey, “Joe is either mis-remembering or being seriously dishonest.”

Gun Control

Sestak says “yes” gun laws should be changed to make it harder for terrorist watch list persons to acquire firearms. Says he believes in “reasonable” laws to prohibit the “worst” gaining access to weapons. “Government should be reasonable,” says Sestak.

Toomey supports thorough background check for all firearms. “When we capture an enemy combatant,” says Toomey, “we should give him a military trial” on a military base. Cites Sestak’s support for 9/11 plotter KSM being given a civilian trial.

“I am unique among those who have been elected to Congress,” says Sestak. Says terrorists “killed my friends,” and “I want them put to death for what they did.” Toomey says it would be a “circus” to try terrorists in civilian trial and would aid enemies thanks to forced disclosure.

Sestak not allowed to respond, shut down by moderators. Now allowed a response. Applauded.

Says George Bush tried “200 terrorists” in civilian courts. Asks why Toomey didn’t “speak up,” about trials. Toomey says its “abundantly clear” it’s a “huge security risk” and says it’s why law enforcement community is supporting him.


“Would economy be in better shape without stimulus and auto bailout?” both men are asked.

Toomey says Wall Street is “last place” taxpayers should have to bail out. Says he raised questions about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac early on. Supported “real regulatory reform” to avoid them “spinning out of control.”

Sestak he had to “control damage” of Bush-Toomey era, ignoring Toomey’s points over his proposed legislation to reign in GSEs. Says Toomey would sell America out to China.

“Joe voted to continue the bailouts,” says Toomey. “He had to introduce his own bailout bill? To require Americans to bail out underwater mortgages?”

Sestak says he stands up for “doing what’s right,” asks Toomey why he believes “corporations should after zero taxes.” Gets cut off by moderators. Next question.

Defense Spending

Sestak says “Navy is building things wrong,” and cites overspending on things like submarines, supported changes to make military smarter. “More cost efficient, effective military,” says Sestak.

Toomey cites his family’s military history, says we have to have “all resources” for men and women in harm’s way. “There’s is waste pretty much everywhere in government,” Toomey says. “Congress has a real spending problem.” Condemns earmarks as example of spending misuse.

Sestak says Toomey supporting cutting veterans benefits, and called it “waste.” “We all want to cut,” says Sestak. Toomey says Sestak’s support for bailout proves that to be untrue. Cites earmarks in stimulus as examples of waste.


“What I think is absolutely tragic,” says Toomey, is “other parents who can’t afford a private school tuition are trapped.” Students don’t get a chance in life unless “money funding education follows the child,” wherever he goes, regardless of the type of school.

Sestak says we should “invest in youth,” and cites Pell grants and early start for children. Slams Toomey for suggesting “brains [should] be distributed by wealth and zip code.”

“Joe Sestak opposes giving poor kids a choice for private school,” says Toomey. Right now there are “too many kids” who don’t “have a chance to go to any working school,” says parents should have choice over school. Sestak rebuts, saying he supports choice. Sestak voted in Congress, however, to end a popular school choice program in Washington, DC.

Sestak says, “it’s we the people, not we the marketplace.”

Foreign Policy

Sestak says diplomacy should be first choice to deter Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and — after being pressed by moderator – would support nuclear strikes as “last option” to protect a country like Israel from attacks. “I think it’s unacceptable for the United States to tolerate a nuclear armed Iran,” says Toomey. Says it’s an “existential threat” to Israel. 

Toomey says that Sestak speaking to CAIR, a Hamas terrorist sympathizer, was a mistake.


Would it be safe to withdrawal if Taliban were in positions of power in Afghanistan. Toomey says it’s “very difficult” set of circumstances, says if they renounce violence, give up arms, and accept government in Kabul, then it “could be beginnings” of a negotiated surrender.

Sestak says we’re “no longer there,” in Afghanistan, and says we should “eradicate safe haven in Pakistan.” We “don’t have metrics” to leave.

Toomey says Joe would support “arbitrary deadline” that could thwart “classic counterinsurgency,” and says we should support Gen. Petraeus. Sestak says “truth is a casualty” from Toomey’s remarks for perhaps the fifth time.

The number one danger to the United States national security, Sestak says spending is greatest problem. Launches into threats from China.

Toomey rebuts, saying Sestak distances himself “from mainstream in Congress. We cannot have a recovery with incredibly reckless policies Joe Sestak is pursuing,” says Toomey.

Sestak jokes that Toomey “sounds like my parrot at home” in getting issues wrong again.

“We have jobs in Pennsylvania that depend on overseas business,” says Toomey, and Sestak wants to “raise [corporate tax] even higher. That’s why we have trouble with this economy.”


Toomey gets gentlemanly zinger in about his mother’s age, says he “won’t disclose.” Toomey says Obamacare “endangers” doctor-patient relationship and the benefits that follow by imposing artificial constraints. 

“Doctors, nurses, hospitals,” all supported this bill, says Sestak. “Two trillion in spending,, half trillion in new taxes, … but now many are threatened by losing their coverage,” rebuts Toomey. Says it’s “not affordable.”

Sestak says it “decreases” costs and that it “is about affordability.

Closing Statements

Sestak thanks audience in “hallowed hall” and cites military experience since Vietnam era, and service in Clinton administration. Cites healthcare as key issue, says he’s “gone everywhere” in Pennsylvania and that it’s a “very serious election.”

“I want to be not a politician but a public servant,” closes Sestak, and urges all to think about military every day.

Toomey says Sestak is left of Democratic consensus, and supports a host of unaffordable, expansive, “chilling” effect on the nation and economy. Joe Sestak “voted for every item on that agenda, and his only criticism is it didn’t go far enough.”

“I think we can restore prosperity,” closes Toomey, “but it didn’t come from government.”

“If we clear away threats from excessive and out of control agenda … if we get spending under control … I’m confident the 21st century can be another great American century.”

Next Debate

The second and final senate debate will take place this Friday night in Pittsburgh.

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