Paul Tonko for Congress
Published: 12:00 a.m., Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Even after a long career in politics, Paul Tonko still has a way of thinking and speaking like the engineer that he once was. It comes in handy this year as he campaigns for re-election to represent the 21st Congressional District. He points to the incremental yet significant progress away from economic collapse that's been made during the past two years, even if President Obama and other Democrats have been unable to fully articulate its virtues.
There's the economic stimulus that Congress passed, for instance. Costly as it was, at some $787 billion, it's meant that some 3.5 million Americans are working today, in jobs that were either created or at least saved by legislation that, in retrospect, didn't go far enough.
And there's the passage of the most substantive and far-reaching health care legislation in almost 50 years. Yes, it has its flaws. It might even need some revisions. But let's not forget that some 30 million uninsured Americans will have health coverage because of this law, and that no one can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Mr. Tonko's support of such measures demonstrates what a sensible legislator he's been since going to Congress in 2009. He deserves re-election to a second term.
Mr. Tonko has good reason to fear the results of a Republican takeover of Congress, or of even just the House.
It would be the politics of the past, he says, as the new majority tried to repeal the health care law, once again attempted to privatize Social Security and continued to resist reforming Wall Street.
His Republican opponent, Ted Danz, a resident of Altamont and the owner of an Albany heating and energy business, opposes the health care law and protests that the stimulus "went overboard." He favors extending the Bush-era income tax increases for everyone -- even those making more than $250,000, a level of affluence that Mr. Tonko says less than 1 percent of the 21st District enjoys.
Mr. Danz is well meaning and takes pride in not being a career politician. The price of that, though, is less substance on the issues than a longtime legislator like Mr. Tonko offers.
The other contender for this seat, write-in candidate Joe Sullivan, has the command of the issues, particularly on foreign affairs, that Mr. Danz lacks. But many of his views are extreme, as he accuses Mr. Obama of bringing the country to the brink of economic and social ruin at home and military and strategic demise abroad.
Mr. Tonko, meanwhile, seizes upon an issue that might excite an engineer more than the public at large. He wants to make clean energy, particularly wind power, a focal point of job creation efforts. It's an idea well worth pursuing, pushed by a congressman who has again earned our endorsement.
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