MIKE RUBINO, HILL RAISER What’s at stake

This November 7, we will see the conclusion to one of the greatest political battles in Pennsylvanian history. We, as commonwealthers, have the honor of taking part in this battle between good and lackluster; between leader and follower; between Sen. Rick Santorum and Bobby Casey Jr. For some out there, it’s easy to write off Santorum, a conservative Catholic from Penn Hills. But before you do, you must realize what’s at stake.
If there was ever a time in modern American politics that it was important to vote for someone, this is it. America is at a turning point as it faces new challenges abroad and at home. While you could certainly be a lemming, hop in line, and join the �anyone-but-Santorum� bandwagon, you must realize the kind of senator you would get… and more importantly, the kind of senator you would lose.


By Mike Rubino,
Cartoonist
This November 7, we will see the conclusion to one of the greatest political battles in Pennsylvanian history. We, as commonwealthers, have the honor of taking part in this battle between good and lackluster; between leader and follower; between Sen. Rick Santorum and Bobby Casey Jr. For some out there, it’s easy to write off Santorum, a conservative Catholic from Penn Hills. But before you do, you must realize what’s at stake.
If there was ever a time in modern American politics that it was important to vote for someone, this is it. America is at a turning point as it faces new challenges abroad and at home. While you could certainly be a lemming, hop in line, and join the �anyone-but-Santorum� bandwagon, you must realize the kind of senator you would get… and more importantly, the kind of senator you would lose.
Let’s talk about Bobby, the state treasurer running for his sixth office in four years. Casey has lead in the polls since the beginning of this race and has kept his lead thanks to a campaign strategy of duck and dodge: duck the issues, dodge the reporters. His stances on many of the big issues facing Pennsylvania and America have been vague at best. Democrats nominated Casey as someone who would lure in moderate voters and capitalize on any anti-incumbent, anti-Republican sentiment growing in the state. He’s a candidate that can be molded any way the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would like – and that’s not something we should be �okay� with.
Santorum and Casey had a total of four debates during this election. Watching Santorum debate Casey (in any of the four debates) was like watching someone argue with a kindergartner. Casey’s answer to every question started something like this �I think we need to do everything the Bush administration hasn’tdone…� and every rebuttal went a little more like �Rick voted with the president 98% of the time…� And it just went on like that, ad nauseum, until the hour was over.
This begs the question, where does Casey actually stand on the issues? He portrays himself as someone �moderate� and �in touch� with the values of Pennsylvania. He claims to be pro-life, while taking support from folks like MoveOn.org and supporting the Plan-B Morning After Pill. It’s odd that someone who is �pro-life� doesn’treceive any endorsements from the largest pro-life organizations in America (Santorum did, by the way.) Casey is a man who will say he stands for pro-life issues, but if elected, he surely won’tfight for them, he�ll just sift to the back of the Democratic pack.
Hot-button social issues aside, Casey also claims to hold a similar stance with Santorum on the issue of Iraq. Like Santorum, he isn’tfor any sort of timetable, but has said little else in the ways of actually winning the war. Santorum’s stance on the Iraq war is to let our troops finish the job and slowly transfer power over to a competent Iraq government. Admittedly, we aren’tquite there yet, but both candidates agree that the �Murtha-Cut-and-Run� strategy isn’tgoing to solve the problem.
As for the rest of the Axis of Evil, Casey and Santorum differ greatly in terms of proportionality. Casey’s stance on both Iran and North Korea is tough sanctions. Hearing him talk about such large threats to the American way of life gives me chills. He couldn’teven name the previous Iranian president during the KDKA debate. His grasp of foreign policy issues is similar to that of a horse’s grasp of a pencil. Santorum, however, has spent much of this campaign talking about the Islamic fascist threat that America is currently facing. Santorum’s solution can be seen in his Iran Freedom and Support Act (S.333), a bill that cuts off funding to Iran and instead supports the pro-democracy movement currently building within Iran.
An integral part of the foreign policy discussion between these two candidates is the issue of immigration reform. Casey has openly supported the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill – a bill that, if it had passed, would have granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, provided them with social security benefits, and relieved them of any back income taxes. Santorum has taken a strong stand against the bill (which was blocked by the House), and has said that he would only support a bill that addressed border security first. Casey likes to say that Santorum votes with President Bush 98% of the time, and yet on the issue of immigration, Bush and Casey are eating at the same Don Pablo�s.
Now, if you think that Casey’s grasp of foreign policy issues is a little shaky, just look at where he stands on some of the more pressing economic issues of the day. Casey’s strongest stance as to what to do with our (booming) economy is to repeal the �tax breaks for the rich.� It’s a common Democratic code-phrase for �raise taxes.� Casey said he would vote against the Bush tax cuts that have helped grow the economy tremendously after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Casey fails to understand that repealing these tax cuts would do more than �stick it to the rich,� like raise the taxes of low-income families by 5%, bring back the marriage penalty, and make 50% of the child-tax credit disappear.
Santorum is fighting to make these tax cuts permanent, as well as repealing the Death Tax (also known as the Estate Tax). Santorum is also fighting to reform Social Security, a system that is set to go bankrupt over the next few decades.
While Santorum wants to work on giving young voters private accounts, Casey seems to think we can just grow our way out, which will be hard with all his tax increases.
Looking at where these men stand on the issues, I can’timagine anyone wanting what Casey represents. But, say you aren’tinterested in these issues; maybe you�re just looking for change. I must say that change isn’talways for the better, and a Casey win could set back Pennsylvania – 12 years (the amount of time Santorum has been in office). Casey would start at the bottom of the seniority ladder. If re-elected, Santorum, however, would become the second most powerful Republican in the Senate, allowing him to have a more public, influential, role in policy and deliver even more funding and support for Pennsylvania.
A Casey win would also spell doom for Western Pa. If both he and Rendell won on Election Day, then all of Pennsylvania’s leadership would be coming from the eastern fringe (Gov. Rendell and Arlen Specter from Philadelphia, Casey from Scranton). This means that when it comes time to distribute government funding, support sports teams, and make important moral rulings on stem cell research and abortion… Western Pennsylvanians are at their mercy.
So when it comes time for you to march into the voting booth on the seventh, think about what’s at stake. Do you want someone in office who is going to stand up and fight for what he believes in, or someone who is going to sit back and study his Democratic National Committee-issued talking points? Do you want someone with experience and vision, or a career politician who hasn’thad much luck winning elections?
We can’tafford to take a chance with the inexperienced Casey…but more importantly, we can’tafford to lose Santorum.
Mike Rubino is chairman of the
Seton Hill University College Republicans.
View this writer’s profile.

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