U.S. House District 4: David Steinhof on the issues
On the Web
Audit the Fed
The Federal Reserve is not a government agency. It is actually a conglomerate of very large private institutions with the ability to print US currency. We are all required to report our financial transactions each year via our tax returns, yet the institution with the greatest control over our country’s well-being is completely shrouded in secrecy.
As the Fed continues to act without oversight by printing US dollars without limits or transparency, they are committing a crime tantamount to counterfeiting. With each additional dollar printed without the backing of real wealth, the value of all we own and earn decreases. The surest way to deliver us into hyperinflation and a depression worse than the depression of 1929 is to allow our Fed to operate without annual audits.
Repeal Obamacare – Real Health Care Reform
Health Care reform was born of the desire for this country to provide those segments of our population who can least afford it equal access to high quality health care. Unfortunately, the models used to design Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) have already failed, such as Massachusetts’ affordable health care and socialized medicine throughout Europe. Instead of supplying access to health care for small segments of our population such as those who are uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions Obamacare has sought to diminish the success of private sector health care in favor of more government control, less competition, and interference with the patient-doctor relationship.
Private sector health care is faced with ever-increasing costs compounded by a poor economy, driving more people to become uninsured. Rather than adversely affect our existing private-sector healthcare, we should focus our attention upon those segments of the population who can least afford health care by specifically addressing their problems. We must first address the issues driving up healthcare costs such as abuse, fraud, and fraudulent litigation. Rather than follow failed models, we should follow models that have succeeded. States that have already implemented “loser pays” have reduced frivolous lawsuits and therefore reduced the cost of insurance.
Restoring interstate competition and access to group insurance benefits like that once offered by the chamber of commerce will reduce costs by normalizing the risk pool. This can be done in conjunction with products for private plans that would offer an individual health savings account and a rate based on the universal risk pool across the company, and would follow the individual regardless of employment. Measures similar to these would better adapt to the demographic variations that exist from state to state or city to city. More densely populated states and cities would have a wider variety of risk pools, allowing for better competition, and would better address local health and health needs, in addition to allowing for a much more personal relationship between health care providers and their patients. By lowering the cost of private health care insurance we will have more people contributing lower amounts of their income toward health care insurance, while simultaneously decreasing the segment of the population that cannot afford health insurance – that segment of the population that will ultimately require coverage due to federal or state programs, effectively paid for by the taxpayer. In contrast, Obamacare will greatly increase the number of people requiring government provided health care at low or no contribution, decreasing the private risk pool size, driving up both the cost of private health care and the cost to taxpayers. Socialized health care has always decreased the quality of health care, the number of health care providers, and resulted in higher, unsustainable costs.
More on Obamacare
Obamacare was started as an attempt to socialize medicine and ended up, after all the arm-twisting and vote buying in Congress, as nothing more than a massive tax levied on the American people through insurance companies. Its model was based in error, copying that of European nations who have cut their defense to the bone and still cannot afford their health care programs, and its implementation was entirely partisan and wrongheaded, so much so that our own citizens of Massachusetts sent Senator Brown explicitly to be the 41st vote against it.
Unfortunately the Supreme Court rendered a ruling that defied Constitutional principles, as they have done on rare occasion, in deferring to Congress that legislation passed by it reflected the will of the people. The Supreme Court was two years behind the times – at the time of Obamacare’s passage a majority of Americans opposed it, a majority of Americans still oppose it, and in 2010 that majority elected new officials in massive numbers to make that point clear. The onus is now on the American people to act where the Supreme Court did not.
More on the Patient-Doctor Relationship and Specific Reforms
Real health care reform starts at the patient-doctor relationship. As a health care provider, the first thing I do is take a patient history, then analyze their needs and offer treatment plans that fit within their budget. I will take this same approach down to Washington to fix this, one of our most pressing issues. Our society needs to get back to that model, because health care is individual. My patients come to me from all backgrounds, all income levels, all life styles, and every other variety you can imagine. Solutions that may work for one patient may not be reasonable for another, even if the problem is similar.
A key problem is that health insurance does not follow an insurance model. Traditionally understood, insurance is a contract where one party pays a premium over time in exchange for financial protection from unlikely, but possible events. It was never designed to pay for routine examinations or common health concerns. One of the great new innovations in health care is Health Savings Accounts, which allow for pretax dollars to be allocated toward expected health expenses. This is a great start to a model that cuts costs by bringing healthcare back to its source – a patient and their doctor.
More on Individualized Insurance and the Risk Pool
Insurance should be individualized, Health Savings Accounts should be individualized. Insurance companies as they exist and states are nothing more than third and fourth parties whose introduction increases costs. Our healthcare system in Massachusetts is being crippled by minimum mandates, which drive up costs by enriching companies that lobby for those covered products, invariably making health insurance a product no young person would ever voluntarily buy. Doing this nationally, as Obamacare intended, will have the same results. The reason to have young people buy insurance is to reduce the risk pool, but young people rarely need more than catastrophic coverage. The best state solution to health care is to get the state out – it is creating an inferior product that benefits politicians, not the sick.
Two things can be done to address the risk pool. First, allow insurance companies to compete across state lines so that consumers can find products specific to their needs regardless of their location. Second, require insurance companies to have a single price from their universal risk pool of all policy holders, rather than the current system where they have a risk pool for each employer, and employers are prohibited from banding together to reduce costs by expanding their risk pool over more individuals, thereby normalizing the risk. It also makes insurance companies want to entice young people onto their plans, as larger groups of young people have a greater marginal effect on their risk pool and therefore the price they can offer to all consumers.
The larger problem is job-lock and pre-existing conditions. Employer-based healthcare made sense when a person could reasonably expect to be working for the same company for decades. Our economy has changed from that model dramatically, where people can change jobs multiple times in the same year. Instead, move insurance down to the individual level, and make a health savings account like an individual bank account. Allow parents and family to invest in the health of their children, and create a system that obviates the problem of pre-existing conditions by making insurance independent from employment. An interim solution would be necessary for people alive today, but ultimately shifting health care back to the responsibility of the individual and giving them control over their health care outcomes and health care savings will dramatically reduce costs by removing needless middle men.
Energy and Conservation
Our current president and Democrats like Joe Kennedy always present the false choice between energy and conservation. Our country sits on enormous energy deposits (oil, natural gas, and coal). We need not be dependent on foreign oil any longer. Proper management of our own resources does not need to encroach on our environment, which is vitally important to the health and well-being of future generations.
Energy independence will vastly improve our economy and improve national security. Each dollar we spend abroad for foreign oil increases our national debt and strengthens nations that will threaten both the United States and our allies.
The free enterprise system is the most powerful engine for growth and innovation in the history of mankind. The advent of renewable energy technologies must arise as the result of private sector innovation – government must get out of the way, and not pick winners and losers in technologies not ready for their prime. America’s entrepreneurs live and work in their communities; I’ve canoed up and down rivers such as the Blackstone River in central Massachusetts and the Saco River in Maine and New Hampshire, and always maintained the highest regard for ecological concerns. Such rivers are an example of precious resources we must never squander, we must protect them for future generations. Common sense local and state regulations will protect these resources, while entrepreneurs respond to the demand for renewable energy with solutions like affordable bio-diesel, more efficient engines, and more environmentally efficient acquisition and use of existing resources.
The choice between a vibrant economy and energy conservation is a false choice. Whether it is Evergreen Solar in MA or Solyndra at the federal level, governments do not innovate or invest, they simply pay off donors and well-placed contacts. Cap and Trade is not acceptable at any scope, carbon is not the only pollutant, and government officials have used Cap and Trade as a piggy bank for wealth transfers, not environmental protection. Like Catch Share, which Congressman Frank correctly opposed, the program was proposed to regulate the fishing industry, but in practice it allowed for abuse – larger companies purchasing share allotments from smaller fishing vessels, thereby creating a monopoly on the catch. Ironically, Congressman Frank supported Cap and Trade nationally, but opposed Catch Share locally. Once again, a regulation sold as green ecology, but motivated primarily by green cash and political pandering. We can have a booming economy and preserve our nation’s beauty. The root of both conservatism and conservation is the same: conserve.
When Social Security was first implemented there were approximately 20 workers contributing per recipient. Even FDR made it clear the Social Security “is not the end but rather a means to an end.” The program was never intended to be all an individual would need to retire comfortably, yet it has often been treated that way. The current number of contributors to the trust is 3 to each 1 recipient. Our government forgot to do the math along the way and now Social Security is on its way to being insolvent, which means at our current levels, we will all be forced to pay additional taxes to cover the cost and future generations who may have paid into Social Security for years will be cheated out of receiving anything.
Liberals present the false choice that to reform Social Security is to destroy it. The fact is Social Security is insolvent and our elected leaders must apply some catch up math if we are to save it. Given that life expectancy has increased from 50 years to over 80 we must make adjustments as soon as possible and gradually phase that adjustment in over the next decade so as not detract from a fund that so many of our seniors depend on. However, at our current level of unemployment, with 25 million either unemployed or underemployed, and with social programs designed to keep Americans out of the workforce (like Obama’s executive gutting of welfare reform), the number of contributors is far too low. As we restore jobs, contributions will return and saving Social Security will be much more realistic.
Social Security must remain the safety net against poverty and destitution in old age as it was designed. Social Security should have been solvent indefinitely, but because politicians have raided the fund for short-term political advantages this is not the case. The requirements, contributions, and disbursements must all be adjusted so we can restore solvency and reflect current demographics.
One policy change that could alleviate the pressure on disbursements is to remove the cap on the Social Security Wage Base, making Social Security a flat payroll tax and then reducing the rate. By doing so, it would reduce the liability on lower and middle income earners while providing more overall funds into the trust. Social Security was a promise made that the government has failed to keep. Another potential solution to alleviate costs for Social Security is a low-cost buyout for high income earners equal to 1/3rd of what that person could receive, based upon average life expectancy.
Using the calculator at socialsecurity.gov, we calculated for a person earning an average of $100,000 a year and retiring at retirement age of 62 presents a liability of approx. $443,000 over 20 years, and a person that retires at age 67 presents a liability of approx. $463,000 over 15 years. Indexing a buy-off to 82 years (as an example) at 1/3rd of this liability would present a one-time cost of approx. $ 146,000-$153,000, but would save the program about $290,000-$310,000 in direct dollar value. In turn, a person making use of such a windfall could place that in an investment vehicle they individually own with a better rate of return. Such income owners have already shown a propensity for investment and savings and receipt of such a buyout would dramatically reduce the government’s liability while the money is reinvested into the economy.
Measures like this would have to be used on the way to eventually preclude the need for any federal assistance. Ideally we could get to a system where people could save and invest in their retirement with their own money at a better rate of return, preventing politicians from raiding the trust fund and keeping the money where it belongs, in the hands of the people who earn it.
Peace through Strength
Our military men and women deserve nothing but our respect and admiration, and our foreign policy should respect, value, and honor their contributions. Our brave men and women are far too precious to sacrifice in conflicts often fought by two opposing sides equally driven by greed and lust for power, or some age old religious war equally disinterested in true liberty and freedom. It is they, not politicians, who bear the brunt and the cost of war. We have not declared an official war for decades and have used our military more like an international police force than the world’s premier armed forces.
When President George W. Bush ran for office in the 2000 election he had promised not to engage in nation building abroad. The events of 9/11 changed forever our assumptions about the world and forced us to come to grips with a new and terrible enemy. The World Trade Center had been attacked before, but never brought down by commercial airliners hijacked by Islamist radicals waging war in the name of their god.
Our military should only be deployed in response to specific threats. Entering Afghanistan to rout the Taliban enjoyed popular support in the wake of 9/11’s outrageous mass murder, but the decision to go into Iraq was much more controversial. Time will tell if Bush’s policy in Iraq was worth the investment in blood and treasure, but there can be no doubt our foreign policy needs a serious change. While Afghanistan was justified at the outset, it is now increasingly clear that we are fighting with both hands tied behind our back. Our Rules of Engagement are ridiculous and the reluctance to admit we’re doing little more than babysitting a nation with neither the history nor inclination to a non-Islamist democracy is costing us more every day. Unlike Iraq, which had democracy in living memory despite the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Afghanistan has never been democratic – it has always been a tribal state more suited to the time of Feudalism than the time of Constitutional Republicanism. The mission in Iraq is over and our original task in Afghanistan is completed, it is time to bring our military home.
We need to go back to our Constitutional principles. When we go to war, we say we are going to war. We get congressional approval for that war, and ensure the use of the words “Congressional Approval” denote a military effort so extreme and determined that it strikes fear in the heart of our target. An example would be President HW Bush’s use of our military in Desert Storm, a response to Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait, a sovereign nation and ally of the United States. Desert Storm was executed with extreme efficiency and had an exit strategy and minimal danger to our troops.
We are the United States. We are compelled to assist and support our allies such as Israel and those who are truly seeking liberty lest we forget a debt we incurred 236 years ago when we fought for our own liberty. If other nations had not supplied us with money, weapons, and some military assistance we might all be singing God Save the Queen instead of the Star Spangled Banner. There would be no debate over Obamacare, the Second Amendment, or religious freedom to mention just a few, because we would have no guns, socialized medicine, and tithe to the Church of England. Thankfully, Britain is now one of our strongest allies. Our nation does not wage war to destroy, but rather to liberate. America has been the beacon for freedom for peoples around the world who have been oppressed by Nazism, Communism, and tyranny of all sorts, as the world’s sole superpower we do have a special charter to prevent nuclear proliferation and global instability, but we should not be the world’s police force.
Illegal Immigration is not a seatbelt violation. It often comes with social security and license fraud, crimes ordinarily considered identity theft and heavily punished. A reasonable policy discussion can be had over how to enhance or fix our legal immigration system, but in no way can our nation support violating the rule of law. Legal immigrants go through a long, complicated process to earn their citizenship, and to even speak of amnesty or a “path to citizenship” is to insult them and denigrate not only their efforts, but the very basis of the American compact – many cultures, one Constitution. A nation governed by laws, not men.
There is a false choice in the belief that because our immigration system is overwhelmed we much therefore abolish its enforcement. There is no immediate way to address the immigration issue. Immigration is about both enforcement and humanitarian issues. To address the 12-15 million illegal aliens already in the country, we must put up a policy wall and end the entitlement magnet, thereby creating a border both physically and philosophically. No employment for illegal aliens. No welfare benefits for illegal aliens. Remove these magnets and many illegal aliens will deport themselves.
More difficult is the humanitarian issue, which would require the cooperation of the Mexican and other governments. Mexico as it currently exists is incredibly corrupt. Drug cartels are fueled by America’s lax entitlement structure (i.e. welfare benefits for illegals) and our drug habit – these cartels then use the money from the drug trade to corrupt officials and police, resulting in tens of thousands of Mexicans killed per year. For the protection of our border states, lands agreed upon by both governments could be used to provide a temporary sanctuary for the housing and well-being of illegal aliens, rather than simply forcing them back into a life that they fled from, a life lost in-between nations that often strips them of any chance for life and / or dignity. This process is designed to provide them a definitive and permanent status. If they are violent offenders, they should be sent back to their home country’s prison system.
There is already a “path to citizenship” – ask anyone who came through Ellis Island. Our laws are already on the books – the problem is a reluctance to enforce them. The Obama Administration attacks Arizona by implying its policy is racist – yet 1/3rd of AZ residents are Hispanic. To believe the AZ State Police or any comparable police force will pull over 1/3rd of their citizenry for no compelling enforcement reason is absurd.
Democrats and many Republicans, including my primary opponents, discuss immigration violations as if they are trivial. They are not. To allow foreign nationals that do not speak English, that do not understand the American notion of a Nation of Laws, and that have no chance for advancement beyond menial labor is to allow a second-class citizenry. That is both wrong-headed and wrong, and worse are the “Sanctuary Cities” that endorse cradling this inherently limited underclass. American citizenship is valuable, we should treat it as such.
Our Right to Bear Arms
I am a Class A license holder, and a member of GOAL and the NRA. I am informed by the Constitution, my faith, my experiences as a small businessman and father, and the observations and experiences I have collected living in the 4th Congressional District for fifty years. Our right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution and placed high in the Bill of Rights for a single clear purpose: to protect us from the tyranny of governments should the need arise. The 1st Amendment is our mouth. The 2nd Amendment is our teeth. When reason cannot persuade a redress of grievances against government intrusion, our Declaration of Independence makes it clear that it is the self-evident, unalienable right of Americans to amend or abolish such a government.
As Americans, we have the right and responsibility to protect and provide for our families. Burdensome and inconsistent rules for obtaining a gun license are unconstitutional. The Constitution means the same thing in a big city as it does in a rural area, and the same thing in Texas as it does here in the 4th district. Licensing requirements should be consistent across the country rather than left up to local jurisdictions to decide who can own a gun on a capricious case-by-case basis, as has often been tried in major cities like New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C.
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are currently considering signing into a UN treaty that may be used to restrict civilian ownership of firearms. Actions like this are only attempted when the government believes itself to be more powerful than the people, and such arrogance invariably leads to additional loss of freedom for the citizens. It cannot be allowed to happen, and if elected to Congress I will roll these usurpations back and restore our laws to match what the Constitution originally intended.
The Right to Life
I believe that Roe was made in response to a need for relief, because women were dying as a result of back-alley abortion, and that is as unacceptable today as it was then. Society attached stigmas to single mothers and women were sometimes desperate to avoid that stigma and associated life complications. That stigma is gone today.
Given the changes to social attitudes toward motherhood and the medical advances in both contraception and pre-natal care, my goal as a pro-life candidate is to ensure that sex education taught in our schools provides an in-depth explanation of all aspects of abortion, physical, social, spiritual and psychological; That options other than abortion are emphasized.
I would prefer to change the designation “pro-choice” to one of “pro-informed-decision” to ensure those who do seek abortions understand what they’re doing. I believe that with proper education, the number of abortions will decrease dramatically.
As a doctor, I believe that no treatment should be offered to a patient without a complete explanation of all the possible outcomes. My goal is to help children lead lives that are safer, happier and healthier. We can achieve this without infringing upon the rights of women or the rights of infants.In the cases of rape and incest, I believe these women have been victimized at least once already. The decisions they make belong between their families, themselves, and God.
I was raised a Catholic, I married in the Catholic Church, I’m raising my daughters Catholic, and I still attend mass at St. Stanislaus Church in Fall River. To me, marriage is a sacrament that involves one man and one woman.But just like Jack Kennedy when he ran, I understand that my religion can inform my views, but the Constitution directs my actions. And the Constitution does not discriminate against same-sex marriage. Marriage as a legal construct has always been left up to the states, and I believe it should continue to be left up to the states.
In terms of the religious and cultural aspects of marriage, I am NOT pro-homosexual-marriage. I am not an advocate. However, whatever two people decide to do before their God and family is up to them: it is an individual right. In such legal civil rights struggles as women’s suffrage and the equal rights of African-Americans, there were forces active at the time who wished to restrict equality based upon unchanging demographics such as sex and skin color, and upon legal and moral precepts. I do not believe that the Constitution was meant to restrict people in this way. Likewise, I believe the Constitution speaks to individual rights, rather than restrictions, based upon sexual preference. The power of the Constitution requires that we are all obliged to defend the individual rights of our fellow Americans even if it puts into question another individual’s personal beliefs.
Our Children’s Future
It would be wrong to leave our children with the enormous debt and to allow our government to steal liberties we have taken for granted from future generations.
Today college graduates face a 1 in 2 chance of securing employment. Young, well educated men and women are graduating with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. In face our Nation Student Loans debt just surpassed all credit card debt, and yet there are no jobs.
The problem in our universities stem from two issues: No downward pressure on tuition costs and no accountability for graduate outcomes. If universities were to be cut from federal funds and instead received a small portion of a graduate’s income out of college with any job found through the university’s career placement center or a similar arrangement in lieu of that, they would have an incentive to push students into careers that offer skills useful to the economy. Removal from a steady source of government income would also require them to offer courses at a more competitive rate because their primary funding mechanisms would be the tuition of students, donations from alumni, and their small cut from successful graduates. It would also require them to keep their program costs down to maximize their endowment.
Rather than focus on useful life skills, colleges in the past decade have increasingly emphasized humanities and specialty studies that are little more than a feeder program into those specialty studies. These programs impart only one unique and useful skill to their graduates: The skill necessary to become a staffer for or the dean of that department in another university. In the business world, it would be nonsensical to have a department whose sole purpose is to perpetually justify its own existence by increasing its future size, yet that is what many of these specialty programs do. This is excellent training for a government bureaucracy, but not for work in the private sector.
These subjects provide an amazing opportunity for professors as a research mill, but it costs every student in the college more money. It is not that these are unworthy topics of inquiry or should not be part of college offerings, but institutionalizing them serves only the interests of permanent academics, not a society with increasingly complex labor requirements and technical demands. They are free to continue these programs, as is their right, but they would now be incentivized to look at the potential cost to both the student and the school to operate these programs, and be somewhat responsible for the outcomes of their graduates. Linking educational offerings with alumni performance will better suit the needs of our economy, and give universities an incentive structure that suits the educational requirements of our modern society.
Without making some of these changes, graduates with Masters Degrees will continue to face paying their student loans while waiting tables. The cost of an education has grown 700% since 1980 and yet that education offers only a 50/50 chance for employment. To strap our children with this burden is unthinkable. If a doctor told me he was going to perform a tonsillectomy on your child with a 50% chance of success you’d never let him operate. Yet President Obama and liberal politicians want to use tax dollars continue feeding an education bubble rather than putting the onus on universities to educate towards meaningful employment. They present a false choice between “doing it for the children” and obliterating education entirely, when in truth education does not need to be a federal function, and federal funding has removed the incentive for higher education’s true purpose: Providing an opportunity for students to learn useful life skills that enhance society for everyone.
For anyone who wants to keep President Obama in office or put Joe Kennedy III, who has promised to work along the same lines as the president, I respectfully say: “We can’t afford them!” I graduated with student loans and was fortunate enough to pay the back. Few of our children today are on a course to say the same, at least not until far later in their lives. We cannot afford a Congressman who only moved into this district mere months before he pulled papers, who has never had to worry about either money or the cost of education, and endorses policies that will continue fueling the education bubble. Our children deserve better.
Proud to be a Conservative
The economy is the worst it has been since World War II. Many countries throughout the world have experienced this very same loss of freedom and class separation by design. What has always separated the United States from the rest of the world is our powerful Middle class and free market.
Other countries have allowed their governments to grow and gradually become all-powerful. Here in the United States we are still the masters of our destiny, yet if we do not stop this president and other “stealth Socialists” from destroying us we will end up just like France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, and countless others. Once we accept and institute socialized medicine (Obamacare) we will usher in socialism at all levels.
Our current president has been the most divisive president in the history of this country. He presents us false choices at every turn. He has pitted public sector against private sector, religious freedom against women’s rights, public education against private education, energy independence against environmental concerns, race against race, etc. Divided we will not stand a chance. Regardless of our ethnic backgrounds, race, gender, religious preference, or lifestyle we are all perfectly capable of uniting as freedom loving Americans. Free to work, Free to succeed, Free to exercise our God given rights to live our lives as WE choose, as our Founding Fathers intended.
We can only do this though limited government, the foundation of being conservative. Conservative means we conserve our rights and limit government control over us. We fight to conserve our life, our liberty, and our freedoms, and we protect the most vulnerable from government intrusion and the callous dismissal of human life.
Information provided by David Steinhof's website. For more information click here.