EDITORIAL: Cartwright gets our endorsement for Pa. 17th District

The Easton Express Times

David Moylan brings an unusual set of qualifications to the 17th District congressional race. He is a radiation oncologist, director of two cancer treatment centers, and the elected coroner in Schuylkill County. He’s a student of history, an engaging conversationalist, and considers himself a strict constitutionalist.

In substance and in style, Moylan is a stark contrast to the incumbent he’s trying to unseat — U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a trial lawyer from Scranton who was first elected to this crazy-quilt district two years ago. (The 17th is a gerrymander that connects the Easton area and Slate Belt to Wilkes-Barre and Scranton via Schuylkill and Monroe counties.)

Cartwright is a liberal, union-friendly Democrat who prides himself on working across the aisle and with other Pennsylvania House members to get things done — particularly, he says, to bring federal dollars back to the district. He claims to have guided more than $62 million to the district, including a $1.5 million grant for the Easton Redevelopment Authority for the Simon Silk Mill project. Now that earmarks are a no-no, Cartwright says he uses grant writers to apply for and bring home the bacon.

Listening to Cartwright talk about his “shameless and unabashed” approach to funding almost conjures up images of Dan Flood and Joe McDade, two coal-region legends who knew how to work a House budget for the folks back home.

But that was then; Congress is a different place today and Cartwright is a first-termer who fits this district largely because his politics align with votes in three post-industrial cities.

Is he ripe for a reversal of fortune? Not likely.  As much as “Doc” Moylan will poll well in the middle of this district, his far-right views raised red flags for our editorial board, making Cartwright seem something of a moderate. With a few reservations, we endorse Cartwright for a second term.

Moylan’s approach to immigration reform includes building a two-story fence from Texas to California and sending in the National Guard to defend it, if needed; yet he didn’t have a grasp on the cost. He is opposed to abortion in any instance, even if the mother’s life is at stake. A fetus should be granted personhood, he says. His answer to the growing threat of ISIS is to let the generals call the shots — including carpet bombing and a full-scale invasion using ground troops. The threat of climate warming is a fraud. He equates any background check on guns as a Nazi-style prelude to confiscation.

Some of Moylan’s reform ideas, such as term limits for House and Senate members, have value but little currency, unfortunately, in Washington. Sending him to D.C. would shake things up, but in a direction that sometimes seems incongruous for a physician.

Cartwright wants to make “sensible amendments” to the Affordable Care Act; Moylan would replace it with health saving accounts and letting companies to sell policies across state borders.

Moylan opposes what he calls the administration’s “war on coal.” Cartwright, who says he’s focused on creating new manufacturing opportunities, says only the war on coal is being waged by market competition.

Two of Cartwright’s bill were signed into law, both to allow 1 percent cost-of-living raise for non-supervisory workers at the Tobyhanna Army Depot. He’s also pushing legislation to require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals used in fracking (the so-called Halliburton loophole) and for more stringent state regulation of polluted water produced by gas and oil drilling.