Bill Cahir

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Bill Cahir was a Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District of Pennsylvania

Bill Cahir was a Democratic candidate in the 2008 congressional elections for the 5th Congressional District (map) of Pennsylvania. In the April 22 primary, he was defeated in his bid for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) by Mark McCracken.[1]


Positions, record and controversies

Jobs and the economy

In his policy statement on the economy, Cahir writes that the federal government has a powerful role to play in promoting growth and in providing a safety net for American workers.[2] Cahir is calling for a new partnership with state and local officials, private sector leaders, and high-tech research to help meet that need by creating good jobs. In particular, Cahir envisions an economic policy that:

  • Encourages public investment in alternative and renewable energy;
  • Funds vital infrastructure projects, from bridge and highway repair to new school construction;
  • Allows farmers, small businessmen, and the self-employed to negotiate for more affordable health care;
  • Offers grants and no-interest loans to help family farmers and conserve agricultural land;
  • Funds scientific research and education in math and science;
  • Reclaims abandoned mines to revive streams and fisheries;
  • Offers tax incentives to manufacturers that keep and create jobs at home;
  • Funds the environmental reclamation of brown-fields and the redevelopment of cities and boroughs;
  • Promotes the deployment of broadband internet access in rural communities;
  • Invests in human capital by funding higher education, job-training programs, and vocational initiatives.

Health care

Bill Cahir's health care agenda is deeply tied to his early work for Sen. Harris Wofford, a famous line of whose Cahir uses to frame his own proposal.[3] In particular, Cahir is advocating:

  • Creating a voluntary purchasing pool for farmers, the self-employed, and small business owners;
  • Banning discrimination against people with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure;
  • Reducing the required age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 60;
  • Increasing Medicare funding for rural hospitals and health care clinics;
  • Strengthening the Medicare prescription drug benefit so that it is easier to understand and less riddled with loopholes;
  • Providing federal funds to states that are launching their own health care coverage plans;
  • Financing health care initiatives by allowing President Bush's tax cuts for Americans who earn more than $200,000 per year to expire.

Iraq War

Cahir grounds his position on the Iraq War in his own experience as a Marine. He argues that bringing American troops home is a vital step in reducing the threat of terrorism, and has said that, "even if the Iraqi government that we leave behind isn't perfect, and even if the threat of sectarian violence is high, we can't settle every dispute by keeping American personnel bogged down in tribal politics or Iraqi neighborhood and religious disputes. That will cause more problems than it solves."[4] Cornerstones of his Iraq proposal include:

  • Passing a law that ensures that oil revenues are being shared;
  • Urging the Iraqis to hold provincial elections, where possible, in 2008 and 2009;
  • Transitioning security operations to Iraqi authorities.

He also proposes the launching of Operation Homeward Bound, a strategy for gradual troop withdrawal that provides some flexibility for the President to respond to regional security situations. This strategy is based on three principles:

  • Protecting our allies inside Iraq;
  • Promoting the security of our allies in Turkey, Jordan and Israel;
  • Considering the long-term impact of American policy decisions.


Early life and education

Bill Cahir was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania and raised in State College. As a boy, Bill Cahir earned his way by delivering the Centre Daily Times, cutting neighbors' grass, and working on State College garbage crews. After completing his secondary education at State College Area Senior High School, Cahir went on to attend his hometown university, Penn State in 1990.

Early career

After graduating from Penn State, Cahir worked for the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, where he worked to pass the Family and Medical Leave Act.

In 1993, Cahir joined Senator Harris Wofford's staff, where he worked primarily on health care reform legislation until the Senator's retirement in 1995.

Bill Cahir left Capitol Hill to begin a career as a newspaper reporter. Over the course of his 13-year career in the field, Cahir was honored for his work in deadline reporting, coverage of federal education issues, and environmental writing.


After covering the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as a journalist, Bill Cahir sought and received an age waiver that would allow him to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. At age 35, he graduated from Parris Island and soon after, was deployed to Iraq.

Cahir has completed two tours of duty in Iraq, where he served first in Ramadi and then in Fallujah. After three promotions and a series of personal and unit honors, Cahir now holds the rank of Sergeant and continues his service in the Marine Forces Reserve.

2008 elections

In early January 2008, Cahir announced his intention to run for the open Congressional seat being vacated by Republican Rep. John E. Peterson in Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District.[5]

On April 22, Cahir was defeated in his bid for the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. John Peterson by Mark McCracken.[1]

Money in politics

Information on this candidate's 2008 fundraising is not yet available. Stay tuned for live feeds of data from the Center for Responsive Politics' site.

Committees and affiliations


Cahir will be assigned committees if and when he is elected to Congress.


More background data


Official Cahir for Congress Web site

Cahir for Congress
PO Box 200
Bellefonte, PA 16823

Phone: 814-355-0582

Articles and resources

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Josh Kraushaar, "Pennsylvania primary results,", April 22, 2008.
  2. "The Cahir Policy for Reclaiming Our Economic Future", Cahir for Congress. 
  3. "Every American's Health Care Right", Cahir for Congress. 
  4. "Cahir Policy on Iraq", Cahir for Congress. 
  5. 2008 Race Tracker page on Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District

External resources

Local blogs and discussion sites

External articles