Dent, Daugherty Square Off at Tea Party Forum

Candidates for 15th Congressional District seat differ on Obamacare and job creation.


U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent and challenger Rick Daugherty differed most noticeably on Obamacare and how best to increase employment in a forum Friday night for the 15th Congressional District race, hosted by the Lehigh Valley Project 9/12 Tea Party Group.

Republican Dent said he will vote to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act, a line which drew immediate applause from a fairly full room at the Charles Chrin Community Center in Palmer Township.

“The health care law is going to add costs … and it will also kill jobs,” said Dent, saying a Congressional Budget Office estimates that 800,000 jobs will be lost because of Obamacare. “It incentivizes employers to cut payroll.”

Democrat Daugherty said he favors the bill because he doesn’t believe quality healthcare should be tied to your income level. Everyone should have access to the same level of high-quality care, he said.

“As a society, I think that’s a good place to spend our money,” he said.

On job creation, Dent said the proper path is to lower the federal deficit and decrease job-killing regulations on business. Daugherty blamed U.S. trade policy, decrying free trade agreements with countries like China and Mexico that have sent manufacturing jobs across the border and overseas.

“We can’t have free trade agreements with countries that don’t share our culture, with countries that don’t have our labor and environmental regulations,” Daugherty said.

“It might be time to pull out of the World Trade Organization and say goodbye to China,” he added, saying that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said that we should at least think about suspending trade agreements with China.

Getting rid of rule-breaking trade partners will bring needed manufacturing jobs back to the United States, he argued.

Dent differed, saying open markets are crucial to growing the American economy. “When the U.S. competes, it wins.”

Despite the differences, the two men were cordial. Both noted that they are longtime acquaintances with lots of mutual friends.

Dent, 52, of Allentown, has served in state and federal Legislatures since 1990 and is seeking his fifth term in Congress. Daugherty, 60, of Lowhill Township, is the executive director of the Lehigh County Senior Center in Allentown.

Though he has never held elective office, Daugherty was once an aide to Congressman Paul McHale, when he represented the Lehigh Valley. He is also currently the chairman of the Lehigh Valley Democratic Committee.

The two candidates will meet again in a live televised debate at PBS39 studios in Bethlehem at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

careless fills October 07, 2012 at 09:25 PM
NAFTA paased was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed into law by Bill Clinton after he used much of his political capital to get it passed. At the time, Paul McHale was the the LV's rookie congressman and I believe he opposed it. Charlie Dent was a graduate student then and probably had little impact on those events!
Jim Siverly October 09, 2012 at 02:57 AM
I attended the Daugherty/Dent debate and recommend those who didn’t watch the PBS rematch on October 16. The most important issue for our country is economic growth which drives job creation. Without economic growth there will be no revenue to support any of the socialist agenda that would be perpetrated by Mr. Daugherty and fellow Democrats. Remember the country is already borrowing 30+ cents of every dollar it spends. Mr. Daugherty had one main theme: undo unfair trade agreements. While unfair trade is arguably the case, restricting free trade may do more harm than good. Congressman Dent has a more balanced approach to economic growth: Lower corporate taxes, expand energy production, open markets, and lower the national debt. He expounded on the latter point to mean keeping federal spending in line with GDP. Mr. Dent also explained how EPA regulations and other federal restrictions, like Obamacare, are stifling businesses. Excessive regulation makes it harder for US companies to compete abroad and discourages them from hiring the workers needed to grow their businesses.
Jim Siverly October 09, 2012 at 04:01 AM
People do have short memories and apparently you too. The financial disaster of 2008 started back in the Carter administration with a program called the Community Reinvestment Act. This boondoggle encouraged, if not forced, banks to award mortgages to people without sufficient resources to make the payments or a large enough down payment to discourage them from defaulting. The Clinton administration doubled down on the program and the Bush administration tried unsuccessfully to stop the insanity of it.
Carl W October 11, 2012 at 01:42 PM
That is essentially what Ryan says. You won't find it verbatim.
H. R. Paul October 17, 2012 at 05:44 AM
After seeing the debate, the question for me is whether it's a prudent decision to swap a tenured well seasoned work horse for a non experienced newbie in these very troubled economic times. The answer is no. Not right now. Check back in four years Rick, perhaps Charlie will vacate his seat and move up the ladder in Washington. That is if the 15 th district will let the superstar go, then you can battle for a spot. You can use the next coming years learning about the job and what it takes to fill the shoes of Charlie Dent, and the political landscape and good will he has built over time.


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