by German Lopez
U.S. Senate candidates argue over records, economy, social policy
In the first of three debates for Ohio’s seat in the U.S.
Senate, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh
Mandel agreed on little and clashed on a lot. Each candidate mostly focused on the opposing candidate's record, but the debate today did move to substantial differences in policy at some
points.The debate started with opening statements from a
noticeably feisty Brown, who criticized Mandel for calling his vote for the
auto bailout “un-American.” On the other side of the aisle, Mandel began his
opening statement with a joke about shaving before he turns 36. The joke was
the last time either of the men spoke with a light heart.
The candidates blasted each other mostly for their
records. Mandel touted Ohio's and the nation’s higher unemployment rate since Brown
took office in 2006, energy prices and the U.S. debt. He also said the Senate had
not passed a budget in three years, although Congress has actually passed
budget resolutions in that time.
Brown fired back with claims Mandel had filled the state treasurer’s office
with cronies. He also criticized Mandel for running for four different
political offices in seven years. In his closing statement, Brown said Mandel
is “too concerned about running for his next job” to be trusted.
On substance, Brown and Mandel criticized just about
everything about each other. Brown claimed Mandel signed away his “right to
think” by agreeing to lobbyist Grover Norquist’s pledge to not raise taxes
while in office. He said the pledge makes it so if Mandel does take office, he’ll
never be able to close tax loopholes for big corporations.
Mandel defended the pledge by saying, “I’m proud to stand
for lower taxes in our state and lower taxes in our country.” He added, “I will
do everything I can to advocate for lower taxes across the board for the middle
class and job creators as well.”
The term “job creators” is typically used in politics to reference wealthy Americans, who Republicans claim create jobs through the theory
of trickle-down economics. The economic theory states that wealthy Americans
will hire more lower-class Americans if they have more money and freedom, essentially
creating a trickle-down effect on wealth from the rich to the poor. Although
Republicans still tout the theory, some economists, including Nobel Prize
winner Paul Krugman, say the financial crisis of 2008 and the deregulation that
led to it prove trickle-down economics do not work.
The candidates also debated their positions on the
auto bailout. Mandel said he would not
have voted for the auto bailout if he was in the Senate in 2009. In his defense, he cited the experience of Delphi workers, who lost part of their pensions as part of the deal auto companies made with workers after the federal bailout. Mandel then said, “I’m
not a bailout senator. He’s the bailout senator.”
Brown responded by saying, “These are real jobs and real
people.” He then cited examples of people helped by the growing auto industry.
Brown’s arguments are backed by economic data, which has repeatedly credited
the growing auto industry for the nation’s growing economy. In the first
quarter of 2012, the auto industry was credited for half of the nation’s
When he was asked about higher education, Brown established the key
difference between the candidates in terms of economic policy. Brown said his policies in favor of government investment in higher
education are about supporting the middle class to create growth that
starts in the middle and spreads out, while Mandel supports tax cuts that emphasize a
trickle-down approach. Mandel did not deny the claims, and instead blamed Brown’s
policies for the high unemployment rate and debt issues.
The men continued to show similar contrasts on the
budget, taxes and economy throughout the entire debate, but there seemed to be
some common ground regarding energy independence. When the topic came to hydraulic fracturing —
or “fracking” — Brown said becoming energy independent would have to involve
all possible energy sources. In substance, Mandel agreed, although he also
praised fracking regulations recently passed by the Ohio legislature and Gov.
As far as energy issues go, the agreement stopped there.
When Brown was asked about President Barack Obama's alleged “war on coal,” Brown said there was no war
on coal and claimed there are more coal jobs and coal produced in
Ohio than there were five years ago. Mandel disagreed and claimed there is a war on coal. He added if
Obama is the general in the war on coal, Brown is Obama's “lieutenant.” Brown previously supported federal regulations on mercury that some in the coal industry, including the Ohio Coal Association, claim will force coal-fired power plants to shut down. The regulations go into effect in 2015.
On abortion, Mandel proudly claimed he was
pro-life, while Brown said, “Unlike Josh Mandel, I trust Ohio women to make
their own health care decisions.” Brown also criticized Mandel for not
establishing exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother in his anti-abortion stance.
Many more issues, from term limits to Middle Eastern
culture, were covered in the debate. The candidates drew sharp contrasts in all
these areas with Brown typically holding the liberal position and Mandel
typically holding the conservative position. But despite the feisty language
and deep policy contrasts, when the debate ended, the candidates smiled, shook
hands and patted each other on the back. They will meet again in Columbus on
Thursday and Cincinnati on Oct. 25.
3 Comments · Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Congratulations are in order for Ohio
Treasurer Josh Mandel. As part of his U.S. senatorial campaign, Mandel, a
Republican, has earned his sixth “Pants on Fire” rating from
fact-checking website PolitiFact.
Best new chef in the Midwest dicusses his food, the local dining scene and the future
0 Comments · Thursday, May 31, 2012
Chef Daniel Wright, who owns Senate with
his wife, Lana, is Food & Wine’s
People’s Choice for the Best New Chef in the Midwest. He has two hit
restaurants in the hottest neighborhood in town. He is days away from
becoming the father of twins. His mojo is working overtime.
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Some of the more happening spots
around town — some have outrageously creative drink menus, others have
some of the freshest and most mouth-watering food around and others
still encourage you to dance your ass off.
0 Comments · Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Cocktails before breakfast! What could make that better? How about complimentary cocktails before breakfast made by one of the country's top mixologists? That Black Paloma I enjoyed on the mezzanine of the Hotel Monteleone last Friday before heading up to the rooftop for fresh bagels with vodka-cured lox was just one of the excellent perks of Tales of the Cocktail.
Upscale take on street food makes the emerging Gateway Quarter district even tastier
4 Comments · Monday, March 29, 2010
Senate is the new place where the cool kids go, and I know why: It's fun, the menu doesn't take itself too seriously and its location is red hot. Senate's mission is to present upscale street food, and they've done a terrific job of planning a menu that's varied enough to suit most appetites but taken up a few notches so no one is disappointed.