Candidate Questionnaire: Robert Dold

Do you think the new health care plan will be successful? Do you think it should be amended?

We missed a golden opportunity with the health care reform legislation. I believe the legislation is the wrong prescription for our health care system and, worse, the American people.  What is certain is that small businesses – the backbone of our economy – are saddled with higher health care costs for employees along with costly new regulatory mandates. 

I am deeply concerned that the new health care legislation will hurt American seniors. It cut $500 billion in Medicare benefits and transferred that money to pay for new federal healthcare bureaucracies. According to Medicare’s Chief Actuary, more than seven million Americans will lose their current Medicare Advantage plans, and other provisions will result in less generous benefit packages. The legislation was much too expensive and will steadily increase taxes on the middle class, while adding to an already unsustainable Federal debt.

Many common-sense solutions were discarded in the haste to pass some sort of legislation and claim success. I strongly believe we need to implement tort reform. An incredible amount of waste occurs because of a mentality that is caused by unchecked lawsuits. The cost of ‘defensive’ medicine – tests, procedures, referrals, hospitalizations, or prescriptions ordered by physicians fearful of lawsuits – is huge and widespread. This must be changed to protect the solvency of our healthcare system.

I also believe we need to offer choice across state lines. In nearly every other sector of the economy, consumers are free to choose across state lines and companies are free to market across state lines.  This change would expand the choices available to consumers and increase the competition for each insurer, thereby driving down prices and improving service.

We must also require greater transparency of pricing and outcomes data.  Today it is nearly impossible to compare price and outcomes, and effectiveness. The current system does not encourage providers to report data with any kind of consistency and as such, price and outcomes comparisons are complicated and almost certainly “apples-to-oranges.”

Now that the war in Iraq has ended, what do you see as the next steps in Afghanistan?

I support the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and President Obama’s decision to send more troops. I am encouraged that the Commander of U.S. and NATO troops, General Petraeus, has indicated that the momentum of the Taliban in several regions of the country has been reversed, and I would defer to his leadership on the appropriate military strategy on the ground.  

However, I am concerned about the legitimacy of President Hamid Karzai as a political figure among the people, as well as a partner in the coalition effort. In my judgment, the confluence of President Karzai’s contested re-election, his threats to join the Taliban, and now his personal intervention and release of one of his aides who is part of a corruption investigation, create sufficient cause for concern that President Karzai may be unable to provide the long-term stability needed for the U.S. and NATO forces to succeed in Afghanistan.

In addition, I did not agree with President Obama’s placement of a timeline to withdraw forces from Afghanistan and replace current U.S. and NATO forces with Afghan soldiers. For an enemy that is patient and deliberate, setting a deadline for withdrawal only creates an environment of uncertainty between our forces and the Afghan people, it hurts moral among our troops by demonstrating a lack of commitment to the effort, and, most of all, it is unrealistic. Instead of setting timelines for withdrawal, I believe the President should set benchmarks for success.   

Our strategy should be to stabilize the government and police and military forces in Afghanistan so they can take control of the country. We must end the terrorist training camps and cut off their funding.

We must also be given a full accounting by the Afghan government of the U.S. aid money we are providing for reconstruction, and pressure the government to take responsibility for creating a civil society and functioning democracy.  

As a member of Congress, my responsibility would be to ensure that the men and women on the ground have the resources that they need to succeed.  Success will be defined as a security and political environment that is self-sustaining, and a country that does not revert in our absence into a training ground for terrorists who are capable of perpetrating gross atrocities around the world. Success will be when the women and children of Afghanistan can live freely, become educated, and not face the atrocities of the Taliban. 

Illegal immigration is a problem in this country. Do you believe the new law in Arizona is justified? What should we do on a national level?

The federal government must lead on immigration. First, we must control our borders so we know who is coming into our country and to stem the flow of illegal immigration. We must also create a more efficient process for dealing with our legal immigration program so that those here legally can more efficiently become citizens. I believe that the Arizona bill was a result of inaction at the Federal level. I believe this is a federal issue and we cannot have a patchwork of state laws on an issue as critical to national security as immigration.  

I do not believe it is realistic or logical to think we can send home the 11-12 million immigrants who have come here illegally, and we need a bi-partisan effort to find solutions. The goal of reform should be to allow those individuals who want to work and pay taxes without taking public benefits the ability to work toward legal status, and to rid our country of law-breakers or those who merely want public benefits. Any reform legislation must include enhanced border security to protect American citizens, first and foremost.  

Are you in favor of letting the Bush tax cuts expire? Why or why not?

It is irresponsible in my view to place a heavier burden on American taxpayers in the midst of a global recession, particularly without any guarantee that spending will be cut. Fundamentally, I believe that we should allow individuals and businesses to keep more of their own money to save and invest. In particular, higher taxes on businesses will prevent them from hiring new workers, and those businesses already operating on thin margins could be forced to close altogether.  

I support the extension of the tax cuts on individuals and couples at all levels because the majority of small businesses are organized as sub-chapter S or LLC organizations. Therefore, the majority of small businesses pay taxes on their businesses through their personal income tax return.  

Rather than raising their taxes, we need to put money back into the hands of small businesses who are the main job creators in our nation.  There are 29 million small businesses in our country, and over two-third of all new jobs are created by these job creators.    

Do you believe the recession is over? And what can or should be done to restore jobs and the economy?

The current recession is not over and is being caused by a very complex confluence of factors. Since the early 1990s, Americans have become increasingly dependent on debt to finance our consumption.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, individuals have increased debt from approximately 80% of disposable income in the early 1990's to a peak of about 130% in 2007/2008. Over this period, low interest rates, complex securitization of loans, and lax lending standards helped to fuel the rapid growth in consumer debt.   Access to cheap and readily available credit led to a wave of buyers bidding up home prices to unprecedented levels.   This appreciation was unsustainable, and the bursting of the housing bubble set in motion a series of events that led the U.S. economy into a severe recession beginning in December 2007.

We need to put in place policies to help individuals reduce debt and increase savings.  We need to help families by letting them keep more of the money they earn. We can do this through an extension of the existing tax policies, avoiding the added burden of increased taxes on individuals during this time of economic hardship. I fully recognize that the federal government has gone on a spending binge over the last two decades.  We will face difficult choices in addressing this critical issue as well. I firmly believe that our economy will return to growth, if we make the right policy decisions in Congress.

To offset reduced consumer spending, and to sustain growth in our economy, we need to promote policies which support the growth in business investment and exports. This is why I will push for the approval of the Korean, Panama and Columbian free trade agreements to expand manufacturing jobs in the 10th District and our nation. It is estimated that for every 1% growth in exports, 250,000 new American jobs are created. In Congress, I will promote policies that create American jobs.   

I am not a politician, but rather a small business owner and a father who is concerned about the future of the country for my children.  As an employer of nearly 100 families, I care deeply about each one of them. They are my extended family.  I am very concerned that all levels of government are making it harder and harder for me to open our business every day.  Small businesses like ours need regulatory certainty and we need the burden of heavy taxation lifted so that businesses can grow and hire more workers.  Until these actions are taken by our governments the economy simply cannot improve. If I have the honor of representing the 10th Congressional District, making these needed steps to create jobs will be my top priority.

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