, Salem, MA

October 30, 2012

Our view: Tisei for Congress

The Salem News

---- — The issues facing the next Congress are as daunting as they are varied: A still-sluggish economy. Painfully high unemployment and underemployment. A national debt that’s now $16 trillion and rising. There will be long, tough debates over the expiring Bush tax cuts, Obamacare, Social Security and Medicare.

The current Congress, rife with partisanship and generally regarded as one of the worst in recent history, has proven time and again it is not up to this challenge. The electorate takes its cues from its leaders, and what they see in Washington, D.C., is not action but cynicism, demagoguery and mudslinging. It’s no wonder voters are so bitter and angry. In dehumanizing each other, Democrats and Republicans dehumanize us.

The time has come for voters to back candidates who have the desire to put people before party, the talent to bring a fresh approach to seemingly intractable problems and a willingness to work in concert to move the country forward.

In the 6th District, that candidate is Richard Tisei of Wakefield, who has our enthusiastic endorsement.

As a longtime Republican legislator in a deeply Democratic state, the former state Senate minority leader knows how to work professionally and productively across party lines. He had key roles in improving the state’s welfare and pension laws but is not a slash-and-burn reformer. His work in the area of social services has earned praise from groups as varied as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers and the YMCAs of Massachusetts.

A fiscal conservative, Tisei supported balanced budgets and generally opposed tax increases, including the 2010 sales tax hike. Even on taxes, however, he can think for himself, opposing the 2008 effort to roll back the income tax rate from 5.3 percent to 5 percent, saying the state couldn’t afford the cut. He cast votes against initiatives by then-Gov. Mitt Romney almost half the time.

It’s this kind of record that should ease fears he will fall under the hard-right spell of his national party. He has not endorsed the so-called Ryan budget — despite what his opponent says — and has taken issue with its plan to push responsibility for Medicaid on to the states. He also was one of the few Republican candidates nationwide to refuse to sign Grover Norquist’s silly no-tax pledge.

On social issues, Tisei, who is openly gay and pro-choice, calls himself a “live-and-let-live” Republican. He’s a far cry from an ultra-conservative tea party radical, as his opponent’s ads claim.

Tisei said his first act as a congressman would be to file a bill repealing 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of medical devices, a levy set to go into effect next year to help pay for Obamacare. The stakes are particularly high here in Massachusetts, where 400 medical device manufacturers employ some 25,000 workers.

That sets him apart from eight-term incumbent Democrat John Tierney of Salem, who voted in favor of the tax despite the presence of several major medical device manufacturers here on the North Shore.

In endorsing Tierney two years ago, we urged him to balance “his support for government spending programs with concern for those in future generations who will have to pay for them.” Sadly, that hasn’t happened, as Tierney has joined his Democratic brethren in pushing for more government spending, even as the national debt passes $16 trillion.

In stark contrast to Tisei and U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, Tierney is anything but bipartisan; he is a reflexive vote for the Democratic Party, no matter the quality of its initiatives.

This election gives voters a stark contrast between two candidates. One has a career marked by hyper-partisanship in one of the most deeply divided Congresses of our time. The other has consistently shown a willingness and ability to work both sides of the aisle in service to his constituents. There are many who say they want to see a more moderate Republican Party; the way to achieve that is to elect more moderate Republicans.

On Nov. 6, we urge voters to cast their ballot for Richard Tisei to serve our 6th District as its congressman.