By ANTHONY HENNEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — While Tuesday’s Pennsylvania U.S. Senate debate offered a chance for the candidates to attack each other and push their brand, it was an hour remarkably light on policy details.
The economy, as The Center Square previously reported, drew great attention. Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman spoke of forgotten Pennsylvanians, and Dr. Mehmet Oz pushed the American Dream. National attention joined that of the Keystone State, with public reaction having greater concerns about Mr. Fetterman recovering from a stroke and the appearance of smugness by Dr. Oz.
Policy issues, and answers to them, were scarce. Voters, arguably, left with little more than a vague sense of what the candidates would do as one of Pennsylvania’s two senators in Congress.
On the economy, for example, Dr. Oz argued he wanted to unleash the commonwealth’s energy industry to create jobs and tax revenues to fund state spending plans. Yet he offered few details on what he would change to do so. On his website (doctoroz.com), Dr. Oz references his plans “to overturn these heavy-handed regulations that are hurting Pennsylvania jobs and our local communities,” but remains light on details.
On inflation, too, he repeated the pattern.
“What we have to do is ensure that we don’t have increased inflation, and the best way to do that is reduce gas prices,” Dr. Oz said.
He did not explain how he would reduce gas prices or inflation.
The debate’s format, when allowed for 60-second responses to questions from moderators, limited the ability for Dr. Oz and Lt. Gov. Fetterman to go into detail, but both candidates spent notable amounts of time criticizing the other and shorter periods attempting detailed responses.
When asked about crime, Mr. Fetterman said, “I believe that I run on my record on crime. I ran to be mayor back in 2005 in order to fight gun violence, and that’s exactly what I did … I’m the only person on this stage right now that has (been) successful about pushing back against gun violence.”
On his website (johnfetterman.com), Lt. Gov. Fetterman endorses “common sense gun safety measures” and argues, “I will make sure law enforcement has the resources necessary to do their job, but I will also prioritize oversight, accountability, and violence prevention.” There are few details about criminal justice reform or ideas about federal and state crime policies.
Both candidates, too, made little effort to speak about health care beyond abortion or in asides about the opioid crisis.
Dr. Oz made a negative argument in that he tied Lt. Gov. Fetterman to socialized health care and voiced his opposition to the abolition of private health care. Mr. Fetterman argued that health care is a basic fundamental right.
The Pennsylvania Senate race has reached national importance and garnered much attention. Both campaigns have so far been content to run on personality. Voters know what they support; knowledge of how the winner plans to achieve their political goals is another question.