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Editorial: Tedisco: Yea or nay on stimulus?

Editorial: Tedisco: Yea or nay on stimulus?

Issue too important to voters for a congressional candidate to duck

Voters in the 20th Congressional District race are still waiting to hear where the Republican candidate, Assemblyman James Tedisco, stands on the biggest issue of the day — perhaps the biggest issue since the Iraq War started: the economic stimulus plan passed by Congress in February.

Even after the latest Siena Research Institute poll released Thursday showed his lead over Democratic candidate Scott Murphy slipping, Tedisco was still stonewalling — implying that it was OK for him not to weigh in on the question because it’s already been settled, the legislation having been passed. Well, he’s wrong.

The $787 billion stimulus package remains controversial among many Americans — liberals and conservatives alike  — and voters have good reason to want to know how Tedisco would have voted if he’d been in Congress at the time if for no other reason than that more gargantuan bailout bills seem inevitable in the months ahead.

Tedisco’s primary challenger, Democrat Scott Murphy has said how he would’ve voted (in favor); why not Tedisco? The answer probably lies in a political calculation: It would be hard for voters to believe that Tedisco would have voted for the bill, because no other Republican in the House did. But acknowledging that he would’ve voted against it would undoubtedly alienate some voters who embraced the stimulus wholeheartedly; or others, like us, who felt that the potential benefit of spending so much money — albeit, some imprudently — outweighed the risks of spending none.

But regardless of Tedisco’s thinking on the stimulus — and if he didn’t have any, he hardly deserves to go to Congress — voters are entitled to hear about it.

It’s one thing to be a minority Assembly member, able to say anything knowing it has little chance of being taken seriously by an omnipotent majority; and quite another to be a minority congressman who, in Washington, is expected to be a responsible part of the debate. Voters need to know, in advance, what kind of minority congressman Tedisco wants to be.

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