Endorsement: Chrissy Houlahan for Congress

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In this year’s race for the new and open Sixth Congressional District seat — a seat that now encompasses all of Chester County as well as the southern portion of Berks County — we have Democrat Chrissy Houlahan facing Republican Greg McCauley, both first-time candidates for office.

Unlike the visceral, top of the ticket races for U.S. Senate and Governor, this race, thankfully, has been more about issues and policy, with some fairly substantive discussions on many of the issues that face the country today.

To McCauley’s credit, he has veered from traditional Republican policy in some areas, calling for the creation of mutual insurance companies to contain health care costs, although he does say the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a failure, despite its growing popularity and indications that it was beginning to work before being sabotaged by Congressional Republicans. McCauley does call for a replacement of the ACA, but does not offer specifics as to what his plan would do.

McCauley was critical of outgoing U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello’s vote against repeal of the ACA and cited it as a reason for his then-primary challenge. Costello subsequently decided not to seek reelection.

Houlahan is advocating support and repair of the ACA, to broaden access to affordable health care for the community at large. She has not embraced a single-payer or Medicare for all model, bravely defying the left in her party demanding a stronger and potentially costly government intervention into health care.

The two differ strongly on tax policy, too.

Houlahan strongly opposed the tax cuts — which despite claims by GOP leaders — appears to have strongly increased the federal budget deficit without offering broad economic benefit to those in the lower and middle income brackets. McCauley, a tax attorney and fast-food franchise owner, suggests that he has fought “overbearing taxes and regulations” for his business clients. He supported the GOP tax plan, although he decries the deficit and suggests it could be closed through cutting waste and fraud, a somewhat tired refrain from generations of politicians who never seem to find much in the way of said fraud and waste once elected.

The two differ on a multitude of other issues, from a women’s right to choose — Houlahan is pro-choice, McCauley is not. Houlahan supports “common sense” gun safety measures, such as universal background checks, closing the gun shot loophole, restricting high-capacity magazines and renewing the federal Assault Weapon ban. 

McCauley describes himself as a gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but that he would support steps to keep guns out of the hands “troubled individuals.”

Both bring strong resumes from the business world to the campaign. But Houlahan also brings a rare combination of business, non-profit, educational and technical experience — not to mention her time as an Air Force officer.

Republicans have sought to tar that experience — specifically her time as COO of And1, a sports shoe company — because it produced product in China, where workers are often poorly paid. We don’t see the same indignation over President Trump’s ubiquitous red hats, also made in China under the same sort of conditions, nor for the myriad of other products, some sold by large GOP donors that are made in China. Republicans’ selective embrace of socialism and workers rights seems more than slightly hypocritical here.

Lastly, with the excesses of the Trump Administration and what appears to be ongoing aiding and abetting of obstruction of justice by some members of the U.S. House of Representatives (and little more than allegedly angry Tweets from GOP members who disagree), never before has it been more important to elect house members who will serve as a check to the more outlandish actions of the president. We need a Congress that will fulfill its Constitutional duty to  hold the White House accountable. While we have no doubt that Houlahan would do so, we reasonably have doubts whether McCauley — or any Republican, based on the behaviors seen in the last two years — can be trusted to embrace this fundamental duty.

At the end of the day, this is not a difficult choice. Houlahan’s positions are a better match for the largely moderate people of Chester County. Her experience in a wide range of areas will bring much to the halls of Congress badly in need of less insular members. And we can trust her to be an advocate for the people, not a small number of powerful special interest groups.

The Times endorses Chrissy Houlahan for Congress from the Sixth District of Pennsylvania.

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