The First State races: U.S. Senate

Posted: 08/30/2008 by ttownjotes in christine o'donnell, Delaware, democrats, election, GOP, Joe Biden, opinions, Politics, Republican, US Senate
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[Elbert says: Michael at Monoblogue is a frequent contributer to That’s Elbert. He will be examining some of our races coming up in the Frist State, so they will be present here as well as his blog.]

In honor of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s selection as the nominee for Vice President, I’m going to lead off this three-post look at Delaware’s three major election races with the ladies first: the U.S. Senate tilt between incumbent Senator (and Democrat Vice-Presidntial pick) Joe Biden and Republican hopeful Christine O’Donnell. In truth, this is sort of a courtesy to those interested in the race because neither Biden or O’Donnell have any opposition in the upcoming September 9th primary, nor are any minor party candidates currently on the ballot for November.

Additionally, with his elevation to a national stage the JoeBiden.com website has been absorbed into the website for Barack Obama, which to me means Joe’s treating the Delaware race as the red-headed stepchild in comparison to the run for VP. Fortunately, having ran for President Biden has already established positions on a number of issues I care about and Delaware voters should too. It’ll be a little bit of a recycling job on his side because I’ve already written about Biden’s positions.

Because this is a race of national scope, most of the pet issues that I used for the Presidential race are applicable to this one. Longtime readers [of Monoblogue] also may recall that I did a point system to compare candidates, but for those who are newer or who forgot, here is a refresher course:

  • Eminent domain and property rights (5 points)
  • Second Amendment (7 points)
  • Election reform and campaign finance (9 points)
  • Trade and job creation (11 points)
  • Education (13 points)
  • Military/veterans affairs (15 points)
  • Energy independence (17 points)
  • Social Security/Medicare (19 points)
  • Taxation (21 points)
  • Role of Government (23 points)
  • Border security and immigration (25 points)
  • The Long War (27 points)

I believe I can get all twelve parts into one fairly long post. These will be arranged by topic as listed above. Where I don’t have a statement already for Senator Biden, I attempt to look into his voting record through the VoteSmart.org website.

Property rights:

Biden: There was no relevant votes I could find regarding the issues of eminent domain and private property rights. No points given or taken away.

O’Donnell: Christine O’Donnell doesn’t address this issue on her website, so no points.

Second Amendment:

Biden: In seven votes cited by VoteSmart.org Senator Biden voted against gun owners on six. Gun Owners of America gave Biden an “F” in 2007. Because of that, I’ll deduct all 7 points in this category.

Unfortunately, Christine O’Donnell doesn’t address this issue on her site. No points.

Election reform and campaign finance:

Biden: I wrote this on July 20, 2007 based on a news report of a New Hampshire debate:

Biden argued that political campaigns should be financed publicly to remove special interests from the political process.

Regarding Biden’s position, I argued then that:

No, Joe Biden, we do not need public financing of campaigns. He loses half of the possible points only because he said very little on the subject otherwise. A big minus 4.5 to you.

O’Donnell: While she doesn’t address campaign finance or election reform directly, she’s pledged to only stand for election one more time should she be successful. With that in mind, I’ll grant her 2 points – one for each term she pledges to serve.

Trade and job creation:

Biden: As part of his original Presidential website, I reprinted this on July 24, 2007:

To protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families Joe Biden believes the next President must first address two things: energy security and health care. This is not our father’s economy – America now competes in a global economy.

The price of energy is set by the global marketplace. Developing our own sources of energy aren’t enough to protect us from high prices that cost businesses and families — we must invest in using energy more efficiently and become the leader in energy innovation.

By 2008, the average Fortune 500 company will spend as much on health care as it will make in profit. In other countries their competitors will not have to bear these costs.

Joe Biden believes America will continue to dominate the global economy by putting energy security and health care reform at the top of the agenda.

My take on his position was:

Joe Biden talks nicely, but what he says is code for additional regulations on energy that will discourage market forces from controlling its price and the easing of corporate health care costs by placing the government in charge of it rather than private industry. I have two future posts that will deal with those specific subjects, but as far as attitude goes and because Joe’s so vague on the subject he loses three points.

O’Donnell: While not directly on point, she does bring up the value of the dollar:

By strengthening the dollar, we lower the price of oil. This directly impacts the price at the pump. We don’t need gimmicks to stimulate the economy. We need solutions that address the root cause. Christine will advocate for monetary policy that strengthens the dollar and attacks the root cause of many of our economic concerns. (Emphasis in original.)

A smaller, less spendthrift government would help monetary policy immensely and, although a firmer dollar does hurt exports to a degree the difference can be overcome with better trade policy. Out of 11 points, I’ll give her four.

Education:

Biden: I quoted the Biden for President site on July 27, 2007:

Joe Biden believes that every American should have access to higher education. In order to compete in a global economy the American workforce has to protect its edge in education. A college degree is more valuable than ever – and more expensive.

As a parent, Joe Biden knows how tuition costs drain family savings. He would expand help for families by increasing the tax deduction for tuition payments. He would expand Pell grants to cover the average tuition at public colleges for low income families.

Joe Biden believes that high school students should be engaged in planning and saving for college earlier in their careers so that students in their senior year are not overwhelmed by the process of applying to college and figuring out how to pay for it. He would expand national service programs to high school students so that they can earn money for college by participating in public service while they are in high school.

Over the past two decades we have made incredible strides in updating our education system. Fifteen years ago it would have been hard to imagine students linked through a high-tech video and high-speed internet network to other students and teachers across the country or teachers interacting with parents via email. New technology holds promise for our education system that we’re only beginning to discover. But nothing is more essential than quality educators and engaged parents. Joe Biden believes that to fulfill the promise to leave no child behind we have to direct adequate resources to update schools, reduce class size and school size, reward quality educators, and improve teacher pay.

And this is what I said about his position that day:

Joe Biden doesn’t disappoint in the pandering department. Throw more federal money at schools and give everyone a college education. That and the national service (is that like compulsory volunteering?) means I’ll dock him on points. He does consider merit pay in his prescription so I’ll only take off 12 of the 13 possible.

O’Donnell: Quoting her site:

Christine will work to ensure that our children do not suffer from funding crises and swings, by exploring Federal solutions to provide continuity.

Here I have to disagree for the solution to bettering education is not a Federal one, but placing as much control as possible at the local level. I’m actually going to take away all 13 points from her.

Military and veterans affairs:

Biden: Per VoteSmart.org, Joe Biden has a fairly mixed record that appears to be a little bit toward veteran-friendly as far as benefits go. I’ll work with him here and add two points back on to his score.

O’Donnell: No mention of this issue on her site.

Energy independence:

Biden: Again, quoting from his Presidential website on August 3, 2007:

Joe Biden believes that domestic energy policy is at the center of our foreign policy and economic policy. Most of the world’s oil is concentrated in nations that are either hostile to American interests or vulnerable to political upheaval and terrorism. Our oil dependence undercuts the advance of freedom and limits our options and influence around the world because oil rich countries pursuing policies we oppose can stand up to us and undermine the resolve of our allies. Profits from the sale of oil help fuel the fundamentalism we are fighting. High energy prices hurt business’ bottom line.

Joe Biden’s first priority is energy security. He believes we can strengthen security by reducing our oil consumption by increasing fuel efficiency, transitioning to farm-grown fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, and expanding the use of renewable energy. But we cannot stop there. Joe Biden would make a substantial national commitment by dramatically increasing investment in energy and climate change research and technology so that that United States becomes the world leader in developing and exporting alternative energy.

My take:

Joe Biden also likes the job-killing (not to mention possibly driver-killing) raising of CAFE standards, along with adding to the ethanol craze and raising our taxes to “dramatically” increase our “investment” in climate change and energy technology. So he’ll pretty much cut the market out and not seek to use resources we can easily attain. I’m taking off all 17 points.

O’Donnell: Christine has several items pertaining to energy independence on her site:

  • High gasoline prices created by policies of the Democrats must be cured. America has not built another oil refinery to produce gasoline in the last 30 years. The lack of refinery capacity is a major factor in high gas prices. While protecting the environment God gave us is indeed a sacred trust, we have the skill to do both. We refuse to accept that America lacks the knowledge to produce energy while also keeping our environment clean. We can do it.
  • Christine has long supported using Delaware’s agricultural resources to supplement America’s gasoline supplies. This can raise the income of farmers as well as help all Delaware drivers.
  • Let’s also keep in mind that the biggest reason for rising food prices is the high cost of fuel for transporting food and grains. This must be addressed.
  • Democrats have blocked America from achieving energy independence, including vast oil supplies in the Gulf of Mexico. China is preparing to drill for oil 45 miles from Key West, Florida, as a team with Cuba. Environmentally, this drilling will happen either way. But U.S. firms will surely use higher technical quality and greater care for our own environment than China will. How careful will China’s oil drilling be about America’s shorelines? (All emphasis in original.)

There are 17 points available for the category of energy independence. On the whole I like the idea of building more refineries and she correctly points out in two of these points that energy and environmentalism CAN co-exist. However, I’m not sold on ethanol as a solution so it mars what would have been an outstanding response. She picks up 9 of 17 points because she’s not as specific as I’d like her to be either.

Social Security/Medicare:

Biden: On August 9, 2007 I quoted from Biden’s then-Presidential website:

Joe Biden believes that to protect jobs, compete in a global economy and strengthen families we have to have to address out-dated health care system. The next president will have to deal with two challenges: containing the growing costs of health care and providing access to the 47 million Americans who don’t have health insurance.

Joe Biden believes we need to take three steps to contain the cost of health care: modernize the system, simplify the system and reduce errors. He supports the transition to secure electronic records so that people can provide their doctors and nurses with vital medical information in real time. He believes there should be a uniform, efficient system to submit claims.

Joe Biden believes the path toward a 21st century health care system starts with the most vulnerable in our society. He would expand health insurance for children and relieve families and businesses of the burden of expensive catastrophic cases. He supports states that are pursuing innovative alternatives to make sure that everyone has access to health care and believes we should use data from these states to evaluate what works best in providing affordable access to health care for all.

My reaction:

For the Democrats, I’ll give Joe Biden credit for…discussing the role of technology in the health care field. He sounds a lot like (Gov. Tommy) Thompson, but also wants to expand the federal role where insuring children is concerned. And since he doesn’t discuss Social Security, it’s practically a wash. I guess I’ll give Biden one point…partly because he doesn’t go as far as some of his more leftwing cohorts do.

O’Donnell: Aside from vowing to end the Clinton tax on Social Security income, which properly falls under the taxation category, she addresses neither issue; thus, no points.

Taxation:

Biden: In looking at his taxation voting record, Biden is reliably a vote for increasing taxes – he voted against the Bush tax cuts, which lowered each of the tax brackets from highs established during the Clinton years. It’s a deduction of 21 points for this category.

O’Donnell: She notes on her site that:

  • Christine pledges to oppose tax increases and new taxes, without exception.
  • Christine O’Donnell will fight to repeal the tax on social security retirement income imposed under Bill Clinton. She will fight to make all student loan interest tax deductible.
  • Christine opposes the Global Tax that will require America to pay taxes to the United Nations – something Biden adamantly supports. This undermines America’s national sovereignty and punishes economic prosperity.

In her “Deal With Delaware” she adds:

Raising taxes is not the solution to our economic problems caused by wasteful spending. This would be like raising your teenager’s allowance after he frivolously wasted his money.

I wish she’d embrace the FairTax; as it is this is a strong category for her so she’ll pick up 14 points.

Role of government:

Since I need some sort of convenient measuring stick for this area, I’m using the American Conservative Union rankings, which generally favor those who prefer a smaller, less intrusive government. On the ACU scale Joe Biden has a lifetime ranking of 13 and scored a big fat zero in 2007. Out of 23 points, it seems fair to deduct about 87% of that, thus he’ll lose 20 points.

Meanwhile, Christine O’Donnell seems to appreciate that government should be Constitutional and limited; unfortunately we have no record to guide ourselves on but on the other hand she does fit the Founders’ vision of a true citizen legislator. She’ll pick up 15 of a possible 23 points.

Border security/immigration:

Biden: While there are a number of votes on the subject that seemed favorable, Biden’s voting record seems to be more inclined toward amnesty than a get-tough approach. It almost seems like it depends on whether he wants to be bipartisan or not. I’ll call this category a wash.

O’Donnell: Christine has this to say on her website:

  • Christine O’Donnell will fight to secure our nation’s seaports and borders to defend our families from terrorism and from drugs.
  • Christine will demand that employers obey the law, just as the rest of us must obey the law, with meaningful penalties for hiring illegal aliens.
  • Christine will fight to make English America’s official language for all governmental purposes. We cannot be one people without speaking one language in common. (Emphasis in original.)

It would be better if she expanded her first point to indicate how she’d prefer to secure the borders, but her heart and position on these issues does seem to be in the right place. Out of 25 points, I’ll grant her 12.

The Long War:

Biden: On August 13, 2007 I wrote that except for a residual force, Joe Biden wanted the troops out of Iraq by the end of 2007. Needless to say he was wrong and lost all 27 points.

O’Donnell: Christine sums things up quite succinctly:

Most importantly, Christine has a strategy for bringing our troops home from Iraq: It’s called victory. Past mistakes should not deter our need to stabilize Iraq so we can get our troops home. We can succeed in the future, but we must accompany our efforts with the honor and respect we’ve earned as a people. We cannot leave on the enemy’s terms. We must leave on our terms. (Emphasis in original.)

You’re darn right. Yes, she gets all 27 points.

If you’ve taken any time to read my website at all before, you know I lie toward the conservative edge of the spectrum so preferring O’Donnell to Biden is not surprisingly a fait accompli. I was curious to see how she stacks up against the conservative candidate for federal office in these parts, Maryland State Senator Andy Harris. For the record, here are the totals.

Joe Biden ends up with a negative total of 108.5 points by losing ground in 8 of 12 categories.

Christine O’Donnell finishes with a total of 70 points. While it’s not the best score I’ve run across in doing this evaluation, she appears to have fairly good conservative credentials. Bear in mind that she’s also pro-life, which is not a category I score but that’s in line with my philosophy on the subject. Aside from the missteps in educational policy she did well, gaining points in 7 of 12 parts.

Since I have no vote in the matter, I can only encourage my friends across the border to end Joe Biden’s political career on November 4, by saying “no Joe and Nobama!”

Crossposted on Monoblogue.

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