"There are only two ways to run, hard or unopposed," Dent said in response to a question asking whether he might be jumping the gun in his race against Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan. "He has a public record, which we will be happy to talk about."
Health care reform
Irked by Callahan's participation in a health care rally outside Dent's Bethlehem office, the Congressman pointed out that this demonstration was actually sponsored by MoveOn, "an ultraliberal organization," and SEIU, whose Allentown president was forced to resign five days later for bullying Boy Scout volunteers. "John Callahan may want to do a better job picking his allies next time around."
Dent also slammed Callahan for his refusal to state whether he would have voted for Pelosi care. Dent noted Callahan could fall out of his office at city hall and read the bill in Bethlehem's public library, which Dent personally delivered. Instead, Callahan will "weasel out of taking a position."
"I guess the chicken dance isn't just for Musikfest anymore," he joked.
Pelosi care will be paid for with $500 billion in Medicare cuts over ten years, as well as $730 billion in new taxes. Dent disputes that these Medicare cuts are realistic. "They're not really reforming anything." He also argues that these cuts will be felt by seniors. "I will let senior citizens of this district know what John Callahan intends to do to their programs," calling him a "Nancy Pelosi Democrat."
What would Dent do about health care reform?
Instead of one massive health care reform bill, which Dent argues is just a recipe for partisanship, he suggests a piecemeal approach. "Deal with things we know need to be fixed," He recommends separate bills for pre-existing conditions, medical liability, health insurance reforms, tax equalization, and so on. He believes this permits more bipartisanship and is more easily amended.
Claiming that Callahan is "no stranger to deficit spending," Dent accuses Callahan of breaking a 2007 promise to cut taxes after the casino was built. Noting a $2.7 million deficit in 2008 and a $10 million line of credit proposed for next year, Dent charges that Callahan has "repeatedly raided" the water budget to avoid raising taxes. "It's like robbing Peter to pay Paul, and then you rob Paul."
In his 2007 State of the City address, Callahan did promise to cut taxes. "[W]e need to give a direct financial return to all of our taxpayers in the form of a tax cut." In February of this year, Callahan downgraded his 2007 promise to a "possible" tax cut. Now that promise has been forgotten completely. "John Callahan can't play it straight with the people of Bethlehem concerning tax cuts." Pointing to Bethlehem's $7 million host fee, Dent adds "You would think the good people of Bethlehem, who are hosting this casino, would get tax cuts."
Callahan is obviously listening to all kinds of well-paid politicos who claim it's far too early to start this Congressional race. Somebody needs to tell that to Dent. He's removed his velvet gloves to expose iron fists, is pounding away, and is happily painting Bethlehem's Mayor as a vacillating politician who has no real interest in the issues. Chickendance Callahan.
Update: Ken Petrini has a far more detailed account of this news conference, which you can read here.
Update #2: The Morning Call's story, penned by irrepressible Scott Kraus, is located here.