Q. Looking beyond the campaign to a time next year when you are actually a member of Congress, let’s assume Joe Biden wins the presidency and Democrats continue to control the House, what are the two to three policy priorities you will take the lead on to best represent the interests of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District?
A. I reject the assumption that Joe Biden will be the president or that the Democrats will continue to control the House. My first vote in Congress will be to fire Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Among other things, Nancy Pelosi spent years wasting time on impeachment instead of taking up President Trump on his offer to address immigration and infrastructure.
My priorities will remain the same regardless of who is in leadership. We need America to be responsibly open for business to get our economy back on track. We need to push hard to open up more markets for our local energy, agriculture and steel industries. And, we need to address our infrastructure and health care.
I encourage everyone to read my Contract with Colorado, posted at my campaign website . My contract outlines my key policy positions on everything from balancing the budget to education, energy production, healthcare and supporting term limits for all politicians.
Q. And how do you intend to work with the other party to effectively achieve these priorities?
I’ll focus on the outcomes we want to achieve instead of the swampy politics we’ve all come to abhor. Too many in Congress have been there for too long developing horrible habits of punting on responsible budgeting and legislative processes until votes are forced on ginormous omnibus bills that spend and waste too much, where citizens like you and me just shake our heads and get frustrated at the “swamp.”
One of the advantages of me being a small business owner instead of being a politician is that I’ve spent years solving problems and overcoming obstacles on tight deadlines and with my employees’ paychecks on the line. My habit is to focus on my customers, and as your representative, that means you are the customer, not the politicians in Washington. The less we make it about the politics of the legislation and the more we make it about the outcomes for our constituents the better off we will all be. That approach should attract more consensus than the political process we are seeing now.
Q. According to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, U.S. per capita health-care spending has nearly quadrupled from $2,900 per person in 1980 to $11,200 in 2018, and the United States pays more for health-care services than other advanced economies. With these statistics in mind, do you have a health care reform plan to deal with the issue of skyrocketing healthcare costs, and if so, please outline it?
A. Over $800 billion per year is spent on administrative healthcare costs in our country. The middlemen are getting rich off the backs of a system that rewards insurance companies instead of incentivizing competition and price transparency. Interestingly, Lasik eye surgery isn’t covered by most insurance plans, yet laser eye surgeons have found a way to compete for business, lower the cost to the consumer and expand availability. In other words, like me in my small business, they provide good customer service and compete for customers.
My approach to healthcare will be the same. We start by making sure the promises made before my arrival in Congress are kept. Nobody should be scared about losing their current coverage, especially during a global pandemic. People with pre-existing conditions must be protected. Access across our rural district needs to improve. We need to make sure care is affordable and that prices are transparent.
Ever notice those drug commercials never include the price? Has anyone had luck figuring out what a hospital charges? And, we should enable health insurance to be personal and portable so people have the flexibility to work without fear of losing their benefits. None of these solutions requiring dismantling the current system or more government control over our healthcare. We should give them a try.
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Q. As a member of Congress, what type of coronavirus relief package would you support and how would that relief assist businesses and individuals, especially in your Congressional district?
I was critical of my primary opponent for supporting legislation that would blanketly hand out taxpayer money to local governments that did not demonstrate a true need. Boulder, Aspen and Telluride don’t need government bailouts. I was also critical of handouts that were sent to those that were not in jeopardy of losing their jobs or income. Why should someone with a secure federal government job be receiving a COVID check?
As we saw with the criticism of large, publicly-backed companies, the litmus test for those receiving PPP loans also left room for improvement. And as small business owner who believes we should be open for business, I get frustrated that many people who would otherwise be working are being paid more to stay at home. As your representative, I support the general concept of helping those in need who are unable to work through no fault of their own, but I think there is plenty of room to offer amendments to these hastily-written bills that do not take into account unintentional consequences or reward those that are unaffected.
Every federal dollar spent is asking a rancher in Craig and peach farmer in Palisade and a steel worker in Pueblo to take tax dollars out of their pocket to pay for it, or we borrow money from China and ask our children to foot the bill later. I take that seriously.
Q. Climate scientists anticipate hotter, drier summers for Colorado in the years to come, raising the potential for even more devastating fires than what we’ve seen this year. What would you do in Congress to help address the rising intensity and frequency of fires in the West?
I’m a huge advocate for actively managing our forests. There are over 6 billion standing dead trees in the Western United States that need to be addressed, but instead we are creating a tinder box for massive fires. Anyone who drives along I-70 understands this.
Rigid environmentalists aggressively gobble up millions of acres of forest to designate them as wilderness areas and restrict our ability to manage them. Even California recently realized this goes too far and they are finally going to start responsibly allowing some logging operations to remove the fire hazards. It’s a reasonable approach that we need to get consensus on quickly, but unfortunately, many on the left have drawn a red line on such discussions.
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