Joe Sestak: An Admiral for President
Joe Sestak: An Eisenhowerian Democrat?
Representative Sestak’s electoral history
Representative Sestak’s foray into electoral politics started in 2006, when he successfully ran for Congress in the Pennsylvania 7th, beating incumbent Curt Weldon 56.4–43.6 who had served in the position since 1987. Sestak would hold that position until 2011. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, defeating incumbent Arlen Specter in the Democratic Party 53.9–46.1. However, Pat Toomey would go on to beat Sestak in the general election 51.02–48.99. Senator Toomey remains the incumbent. After a brief break, Sestak attempted in 2016 to run for the U.S. Senate again, placing 2nd in the Democratic Primary against Katie McGinty, who would end up losing to Senator Toomey, 48.77–47.34.
Sestak, however, is running more on his foreign policy experience than on time in Congress. His Twitter bio reads “Former 3-star Admiral, Director for Defense Policy (under Clinton, on the NSC), Director of Navy Anti-Terrorism Unit (Deep Blue, after 9/11), & Congressman.” He also notes that he walked across Pennsylvania during his Senate campaign. Sestak’s campaign website notes that as Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Sestak “… proposed a controversial reduction in ship-levels from 375 to 260 ships that proved unnerving to the military-industrial-congressional complex.”
His slogan from his first campaign, which he touts on his campaign website was, “National security begins at home, in health security.” Using his status as an Admiral and taking advantage of the fervor for national security, he was able to beat an incumbent Republican. This linguistic tactic can be found throughout Rep. Sestak’s platform.
Sestak, not to be outdone by the other veterans in the field, also received a PhD in Political Economy and Government, and a Masters in Public Administration, from Harvard.
Rep. Sestak’s campaign is focused on the first caucus in Iowa.
Below I’ll try to summarize Sestak’s platform. Each heading corresponds with a plank of his platform as it’s presented on his website. Feel free to jump around to the issues that are important to you.
Jobs and the Economy
Moving to his platform, Sestak would invest $1 trillion over ten years in infrastructure, claiming that, “It has been estimated that failure to spend such funds would cost us 150% of that sum in congestion costs alone due to the results of decaying transportation infrastructure.”
Sestak also wants to create a “national infrastructure bank,” a “Build American Bonds program,” and he wants to expand the “New Markets Tax Credit.”
Sestak’s campaign website claims that “a national infrastructure bank would help prepare our national freight system for the expected 88 percent increase in tonnage by 2035.” The campaign also claims that, “It would help avoid the $22 billion our economy loses every year due to airport delays and congestion, and the hundreds of millions more caused by interruptions at our inland waterways’ locks and dams.”
Sestak also wants to move toward “profit-free student loans” as well as implement a “national credit transfer system” that would “save transfer students time and money and get them in the workforce faster.”
Sestak is against using tariffs as a “weapon in geopolitical disputes.” He also wants to re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “while improving the agreement to ensure that it serves our people, not merely our corporations.”
Sestak has seven healthcare priorities including 1) restoring the ACA and advancing it with a public option, 2) “begin laying the groundwork for a credible approach” to a national healthcare system, modeled after the Veterans Health Administration, 3) “Allow Medicare to bargain for the best drug prices directly with the pharmaceutical industry,” 4) allow for “re-importation” of drugs from Canada while disallowing for drug companies to delay cheaper generic drugs, 5) enforcing the Mental Health Parity Act as well as provision of the ACA to “fix our broken mental health system,” 6) “increase federal action in the fight against addiction, and 7) “Remedy our shortage of nurses and doctors, particularly primary care physicians, as we change to integrated national healthcare.” Sestak wants to achieve this last part by redistributing $13 billion from teaching hospitals toward primary care residencies, along with incentivizing “rural area follow-on assignments.”
Sestak also wants to strengthen federal programs such as the National Health Service Corps, the Conrad 30 Waiver Program, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Title VII and Title VIII “workforce development and diversity programs which aim to recruit a diverse medical workforce and stimulate doctors to take up specialties with particular doctor shortages and to practice in undeserved communities.” Additionally, the former representative wants to address the shortage of nurses by “increasing training and education opportunities” through such means as fellowships and loan forgiveness programs, including for “future nurse educators who commit to teaching in underserved communities.”
To address opiate addiction Sestak wants states to “rework their Medicaid programs to boost reimbursements paid to providers of addiction treatment services,” wants prisons to improve access to addiction treatment, wants to “increase funding for training programs to help doctors better understand the complexities of addiction care,” and wants to change federal law to allow for expanded research into the “potential of certain psychedelic drugs to complement traditional substance abuse and other mental health treatment.”
Sestak wants to rejoin the Paris Accord and restore the U.S.’s “leadership role among the community of nations working together to fight climate change.” Sestak also wants to cease subsidizing fossil fuel industries, wants to implement a fee for carbon polluters, which would help fund research in renewable energy, he wants to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, “committing countries around the world to phasing out the use of hydrofluorcarbons (HFCs).
Sestak wants to give the EPA “full authority to regulate substances that contribute to global warming;” the representative wants to establish a “permanent moratorium” on all “future” offshore drilling and Arctic drilling; he wants to end subsidies to “destructive industrial farming practices” as well as “dramatically increase” support for carbon-sequestering regenerative agriculture; he wants to restore national monuments and public lands that were previously opened to “extractive industries” under the Trump administration; and lastly, Sestak would like to renew the U.S.’s commitment to fighting deforestation, “habitat destruction, and illegal poaching of endangered species around the world.”
In education, Sestak wants to expand early childhood education to all 4-year-olds, wants to support efforts such as Common Core to “create unified benchmarks for success,” wants to increase broadband connectivity, particularly in “under-served” rural and urban areas, wants to provide states with grants that can be used to “support tuition” at community colleges and public universities, wants to make federal aid and loan reception dependent upon “university keeping annual tuition increases at or below inflation,” wants to make federal student loans non-profitable for the federal government, and wants to establish a nationwide system for transferring college credit.
You can read the rest of the planks of Rep. Sestak’s platform, including: Policies on Medicare and Social Security and stopping elder abuse; reversing “America’s retreat from the global community” and standing up to “belligerent actors” including Russia, China, and North Korea; advocating for reproductive rights and health, closing the gender pay gap, and improving daycare access for children; helping veterans pursue training and education and find jobs, end homelessness among veterans, addressing addiction and suicide among veterans and ensure “the highest quality” of physical and mental care for veterans; using drones and other “smart technology” to “secure our borders;” overturning Citizens United and reinstate Net Neutrality; and lastly, defending and expanding the rights won through the ADA, allocating more funding and instruct the EEOC to “launch a major public information campaign to teach people with disabilities (and their employers, families, and friends) about their legal rights,” raising the income limit for qualifying for SSDI and SSI, passing the Disability Integration Act to “prevent people with disabilities from being institutionalized against their will, and to increase funding for home and community-based alternatives,” and allocating funding to make polling places more accessible at his website.
As of this writing eight candidates have qualified for the third debate so far, with polling being taken from June 28-August 28. The deadline for polling and fundraising will be 11:59PM on Wednesday, August 28. The third round of debates will take place on Thursday and Friday September 12–13. The candidates who are currently qualified are Booker, Biden, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, and Warren. Castro and Yang have met the fundraising requirements and Booker and Klobuchar have met the polling requirements.
Rep. Sestak has yet to participate in any forums, and did not qualify for the 2nd debate.