Here’s a transcript of my May 26 interview with former environmental secretary Katie McGinty, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in the Nov. 8 election. Some of her comments were included in the story we published Monday. We ran the story later than we expected, which explains why so late on publishing this transcript.
TT: Why should voters replace Pat Toomey with you?
KM: Well, I think that middle-class and working families need somebody to help rather than hurt them in Washington. And I’m going to go to work every day fighting for the middle class and I think Pat Toomey is a guy whose loyalties are to Wall Street and to bad trade deals and the wealthy interests that he comes from and continues to work for.
TT: What do you think are the issues in the race?
KM: For me, it’s totally about the survival of the middle class. It’s about people being able to make it in this world again if they’re willing to work hard. And right now that American dream is getting further and further away from too many families. That’s the heart of it. I can’t think of a more pressing challenge than to stand with working families and rebuild the middle class. I think certainly economically we have to make it so people are making money again and can pay their bills again. Morally, we need to be standing with families and children. And I think in terms of national security, we’re only as strong abroad as we are at home. And we’re only strong at home when our families and communities can take care of themselves and provide for the future.
TT: Can you give a couple of examples when he (Sen. Toomey) didn’t stand with the middle class?
KM: Listen, I wish I could give you examples where he did. Pat Toomey made millions on Wall Street doing the very kind of risky trades and swaps that tanked our economy. Then he moved to China and worked for a Chinese billionaire doing the same kind of currency manipulations. To me that makes it no surprise that Sen. Toomey wants to privatize Social Security, hand Social Security over to Wall Street, that he has worked to weaken consumer protections and end the regulations that were put in place after the financial meltdown. You know he defends these tax breaks that encourage companies to move their jobs overseas. We’re fifth worst in the country (in Pennsylvania) in terms of jobs lost to China, 120,000 jobs lost to China. But Pat Toomey refuses to stand up to the Chinese when they break all the rules and dump their products in our market and he literally authored a bill that everybody called “pay China first,” before standing up for our veterans, before paying Social Security, we should pay the Chinese.
So you know, I think the senator has been very consistent. His work product now is very similar to what it was when he worked for billionaires in China when he worked on Wall Street. It doesn’t work for the middle class and working families in Pennsylvania.
TT: He made a statement that you’re in lockstep with Hillary Clinton. Are you? And is that such a bad thing?
KM: No I think I said I support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and I have for some time now. And that derives from when I think I saw first hand working in the White House with President Clinton, I saw Hillary be a person who brings people around the table, who irons out differences, who breaks through some gridlock and gets stuff done. And I think we need that kind of approach. It’s a very sharp distinction from what Pat Toomey has been. We now know that the senator has either just refused to do his job like he has with respect to the Supreme Court. (We have) news reports now that he has missed 80 percent of the committee meetings that he is assigned to and he’s a guy who inflames problems rather than try to solve them. I take a different approach. I think that we get hired by voters not to be hyperpartisan, not to try to divide, but to find the common ground and get stuff done.
TT: Why, if he’s so bad for the middle class, aren’t you winning the race outright right now. The polling says the race is tied basically.
KM: Well, look the only poll that’s going to count is the one on Nov. 8. And I think we have to, we’re going to work every single day to win every single vote. The voters would expect no less of me or every candidate, but the record is clear and we’ll be sharing that record. This really is about saying that if your primary concern is to be able to pay the bills, afford your house, be able to send your kids to college and look forward to a secure retirement, Pat Toomey’s been against you on every one of those issues. And Katie McGinty comes from a working family. I understand what it is to have a good-paying job and to be able to have some modest confidence … (Note: I had technical trouble with my recorder here for a few seconds) … (that’s) what I’m going to be about. Up in Scranton and in Wilkes-Barre, I sat down with families who talked about drowning in college tuition debt, taking down not only our kids, but their parents who take out these parent plus loans, grandparents having to pitch in now and mortgage their retirement to try to help pay off these bills. And yet Pat Toomey went to Washington and voted against allowing famiies to refinance college loans, take advantage of low interest rates. He’s voted against bringing down interest rates on federal student loans. That sells out his own constituents. I don’t know if he just doesn’t understand that 40 percent of our seniors depend on Social Security for 90 percent of their income. And they earned Social Security, they paid for it. And he’s a guy down there saying he’s going to privatize it. And listen not only has he supported other people’s policies like budgets that are very hurtful to the middle class, but he has written and proposed his own that would cut taxes to the wealthiest by about $300,000 a year while increasing taxes to the middle class — people making $50,000 to $100,000 – their taxes would increase by $1,400 a year. That’s Pat Toomey’s agenda and plan. Again, it works for the folks he’s worked with throughout his career on Wall Street and the hedge fund managers, the currency manipulators but it doesn’t work for the men and women I’ve met on the campaign trail who are just trying hard every day to make ends meet and to hope for a decent retirement.
TT: Can you address these criticisms we’ve seen in his latest commercials and also the one the Club for Growth about you being part of the revolving door between government and business.
KM: Well, Borys, you know every single organization’s independent fact-checker, newspaper organizations that have thoroughly examined these claims have said that they are wholly misleading and false. They’ve said that Sen. Toomey should be ashamed and take these ads down. I’m proud of the fact that I have created good jobs in Pennsylvania. I have worked in business and industry as well as in government and it’s given me good, practical common sense experience to cut through the nonsense, get things done, be efficient, be effective. And the idea that Sen. Toomey would try to say that it’s a negative that I have business experience, that is ridiculous. And the specific claims are not only ridiculous, they’re out and out fabrications as every independent organization that’s looked at them has affirmed.