Let me tell you, it is a real honor to be able to sit down with a US Congressman and ask him some pointed questions. It’s an even greater honor when that Congressman is the Representative from your District. The following is an interview I conducted with Congressman Benishek on two separate occasions, once at the Michigan State Republican Convention, and a follow-up via telephone. Instead of crafting a blog entry using snippets of quotes, I figured I’d present the entire interview to my readers, and let them see why Dr. Dan should be re-elected for themselves. My questions are bolded, his responses below.
Are there any provisions of Obamacare you’d like to see kept if the Supreme Court strikes down the entire law?
Well, there are some things that seem to be a good idea. For example, having a central marketplace in each state where you can buy insurance. I don’t like to put restrictions on the types of insurance; I think we need a much more open marketplace for health insurance. One of the problems with health insurance is that it’s too expensive, and having a marketplace to be able to buy different types of insurance is a good idea.
What about pre-existing conditions?
Well of course, that’s a good thing as well.
What should the federal government’s role in health care be, if any?
Well as a doctor, I’ve been taking care of patients for thirty years. Frankly, I don’t see what they do that does medicine any good. To make sure that drugs are safe and medically tested… Frankly, because there are so many rules and third party payers that patients don’t have enough idea of what they’re spending when they’re spending money. They don’t understand the costs of the things that they’re requesting. If they had more of an idea of that, they wouldn’t be spending so much money. For example, if you don’t know what a mammogram costs, you don’t really shop for the cheapest place to get a mammogram. The whole competition factor is left out of medicine, that’s an issue that we need to address. Certainly there’s going to be a lot coming out if it gets repealed, we’ll try to improve the system piecemeal, not try to have some comprehensive plan where the government is in charge of everything.
Do you support medical marijuana in limited circumstances?
Yeah, frankly I do. I see a lot of people addicted to narcotics who are in chronic pain, and I think that’s an alternative. I’m somewhat disappointed in the way it seems to be given to people for just about any indication. I think it has be highly-regulated, but I think it’s a good for people who have cancer, chronic pain, or nausea, there’s a lot of good indications for it but I think it has a lot of potential for abuse.
Gary McDowell recently signed a pledge to not take any dollars away from Medicare recipients, yet he endorses Obama. Why are these positions incompatible?
The health care bill takes $567 billion dollars away from Medicare, those positions are not compatible.
How would you like see Medicare reformed?
I’m supporting a bipartisan plan to allow people options. Right now, with this $567 billion coming out of Medicare, that’s not going to help the Medicare situation at all. We have a bipartisan plan to preserve Medicare for people at retirement or near retirement, and for those younger people that allows them the choice in how they receive their benefits. The plan that we outlined gives people that choice and also preserves Medicare long-term. It’s going to go bankrupt in ten years if we don’t do something. We talk about that, the other side doesn’t want to talk about it.
Do you support Kennecott?
Absolutely I think it’s a good idea. I’ve been to that project; I think they’re doing a good job. It’s a huge source of jobs in Northern Michigan. I’m concerned about the environment as well, but from what I can see from what they had done and they explained to me, I had several critics look at the situation, I think they’re doing a good job managing the water situation. I want the air to be clean as well. We can’t just stop all mineral production. When we do a mineral harvest here in this country, we do a far better job at protecting the environment than they do in other countries. If you’re talking about the environmental quality of the earth, mining here at home would benefit the earth more than Chile or China where they don’t have really have the environmental protections that we have.
What are your thoughts on fracking?
I studied this a lot. There’s been a lot of misinformation out there about fracking. There’s never been an instance where fracking was proven to be detrimental to the water supply. I am in favor of using any technology that we have to be able to harvest the resources we have here at home.
What are your thoughts on internet regulation?
CISPA is not really about internet regulation; it’s about stopping people who are trying to hack into our systems. The Chinese are trying to hack into our systems every day, and they have been successful. I don’t want people hacking into my stuff, you certainly don’t want them hacking into your bank accounts. That’s what CISPA’s about, it’s a voluntary program to allow people to get information from the government to help them prevent people from hacking in.
What about SOPA or PIPA where it would provide unilateral authority for certain websites to be shut down?
I’m not for any of that. CISPA doesn’t allow for any of that, it should be a voluntary program.
Do you support the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA?
There is no indefinite detention provision. I have researched that in great detail, I have stalked to civil liberty people, to judges, to Mike Rodgers, Chairman of Intelligence, this bill protects people’s individual rights. We need to go after terrorists, we don’t want to give terrorists more rights than our people have. There’s no provision that denies people habeas corpus, people have a lot of misinformation about this. I’ve tried to study it and make a logical decision, preserving our individual liberty, but allowing us a chance to get a hold of terrorists.
How would you like to see the tax burden on small businesses addressed?
We have a really complex tax code. I would like to see it streamlined and made a lot easier. I think it’s really bad that the president is trying to pit one person against another in the tax code, saying that if we tax somebody else we can solve our fiscal problems, when the real problem is spending. There’s no way we can increase taxes enough to pay for the spending that they’re spending. That’s the crucial issue, and we shouldn’t take our eye off that ball, it’s all a distraction, because the real issue is our spending.
How do you plan to help grow small businesses?
We’ve had 27 different bills that we’ve passed in the House in the last year that have died in the Senate. These are things that we’ve done. Small Company Capital Formations Act, Small Banks Access to Capital Act, these are all things that we’ve passed to empower small business and reduce governmental barriers to job creation. We’ve done all kinds of things, and nobody really knows about it because they don’t go to our site. This can all be seen at Jobs.gop.gov and you can see all the stuff that we’ve actually done.
Would you support raising minimum wage?
I don’t really believe in minimum wage. I think it makes it more difficult for young people to get jobs. People don’t want to hire people now because minimum wage is so high; it’s a detriment for entry-level jobs.
Packers or Lions?
I’m a Packer fan.
How would you like to see Fast and Furious addressed?
Listen, if we had the power to do anything about it, we would be doing it, other than holding Mr. Holder in contempt. I would like to see that happen, but then it would be up to the Justice Department to prosecute him, and who’s in charge of the Justice Department again? It’s a very frustrating situation to be in, when we have an administration that runs rampantly over all kinds of laws, and ignores some laws and prosecutes others, and that’s why this election is so important.
Do you have any confidence in Attorney General Holder?
No, absolutely he should resign.
Are you in favor of Voter ID laws?
We should have a picture ID to identify a voter.
When it comes to spending cuts, are there any sacred cows?
No, I don’t think so. We have to get our spending in order; I don’t think there’s anything that can’t be fixed a little bit.
How do you see space travel developing?
I think that there’s become more and more of this private enterprise space travel and I think that’s a neat thing.
What made you decide enough was enough and get into politics?
Really, the spending, the stimulus bill. We were spending a trillion dollars, money that we didn’t have, on a bill we didn’t read. I think it’s irresponsible for Reps to do that. I decided to run for Congress because I couldn’t believe that we’d spend a trillion dollars without reading the bill. That’s what put me over the top.
Why is using social media so important to get your message out to your constituents?
A lot of people pay attention to that, a lot of people have a Facebook page, a lot of people have a Twitter account, they like to know what’s going on. It’s good that we started reaching out to those people, it’s a very convenient way to stay in touch, we like to provide convenient access to our office and our thoughts.