Michigan's 7th: Congressional Candidates Driskell and Walberg Answer Questions

 11/05/2018 - 10:59

Former Saline Mayor and State Rep. Gretchen Driskell, a Democrat, seeks to unseat Republican Tim Walberg, who is seeking his sixth term as US Representative for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District.

These two candidates ran in 2016, when Walberg won the district with 55.1 percent.

We emailed several questions to the candidates.

Here are their replies.

As a member of the US House, what would be your top priority or top priorities.

Walberg

I will continue working to encourage economic growth and oppose policies that are leading to more debt, wasteful spending and higher taxes. I will also continue working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to combat the opioid epidemic and reform civil asset forfeiture.  I worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass the most bipartisan legislation of any Michigan member this Congress, including having two bills (H.R. 5009 & H.R. 5041) to help combat opioid abuse signed into law that Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-MI, and I authored. I will also work to increase rural broadband access and enhance our educational opportunities that will prepare people for real world jobs that are necessary and secure. While there is certainly division in Washington, D.C., and significant challenges facing our country, many of us will continue in working to achieve bipartisan solutions to get the job done.

Driskell

Job creation is one of my top priorities.  During my time as Mayor, I worked with our local business leaders, national interests, and educational institutions to bring jobs to our community.  I worked with our state government and our various US Representatives to support small businesses and grow our economy.  I have seen the great work local leaders can do when they have an active partner in Washington, and I will be that partner.  Healthcare will be another key priority, and I intend to focus on lowering premiums, copays, and prescription drug costs while protecting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. We need to be investing in roads, water systems, and rural high speed internet to create jobs locally, and work to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our district.

Explain your position on trade and tariffs.

Walberg

I support free trade agreements that are fair and ensuring that they demonstrate a commitment to truly grow US exports. Our government needs to continue work closely with all parties involved to make sure the US gets deals that help grow our economy and workforce.

Driskell

I support efforts to make sure jobs don’t leave Michigan and workers and farmers are treated fairly here at home.   

Explain your position on the federal government’s role in health care.

Walberg

We need a health care policy that gives consumers choice in their health care decisions and puts Social Security and Medicare on a pathway of long-term sustainability.  I’ve also introduced legislation, H.R. 1101, Small Business Health Fairness Act, to empower small businesses to provide their employees greater access to quality, affordable health care. By allowing small businesses to band together through association health plans, we can lower health care costs for working families. In March 2017, H.R. 1101 passed the House with bipartisan support.

Driskell

I believe that Michigan workers should not have to choose between putting food on the table and taking care of their health. The government should work to stabilize Medicare and Medicaid and work to fix the problems of the ACA so that we can ensure that everyone has access to affordable, quality healthcare coverage.

What should the federal government do to make important pharmaceutical drugs affordable?

Walberg

There are better ways of addressing the problems in our health care system than imposing big government solutions. Fixing these problems requires common-sense solutions that reduce cost, increase access and encourage job creation by allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines, letting small business join together to purchase coverage at a more affordable price and expanding the use of medical savings accounts.

Driskell

I support allowing Medicare, the largest purchaser of prescription drugs, to negotiate pharmaceutical drug prices in a manner similar to the Veterans Administration, paving the way for reforms to drug pricing across the board. 

Explain your view of climate change, and how the federal government should face the issue.

Walberg

I will continue to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to make sure Michigan’s energy and environmental needs are being met and addressed. Being a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce helps ensure the concerns and challenges of our communities are represented. Additionally, I recently brought the current EPA Administrator to Lake Erie to see firsthand the challenges our communities are experiencing and looking to address. I have also joined with my fellow Great Lake colleagues to secure full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Driskell

I believe in science.  We need to stop this administration’s rollbacks of clean air and water protections, and that we should invest in green energy and include sustainability in our plans for our economic future.

Do you support the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller? Why or Why not?

Walberg

I support an independent investigation that gets to the facts and releases its findings in a reasonable time frame for the public to review.

Driskell

I believe that we should allow the investigation to proceed to ensure that due process has been done and that the facts are brought before the American people. The investigation should be carried out to completion to reinforce the rule of law as an integral part of our democracy.

What reforms would you like to see regarding immigration?

Walberg

Immigration reform begins with securing our borders and enforcing the rule of law but it must also address the bureaucratic red-tape and backlog, which prevents legal immigrants from entering our country who desire to participate in the American Dream. We must equip Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enforce federal immigration law. I also support finding a solution to address the DACA recipients brought to our country through no fault of their own. However, my colleagues in the Senate demonstrated in February their inability to get past the 60-vote threshold to get legislation out of their Chamber to address this issue.

Driskell

I support comprehensive reforms to our immigration system, including increased border security, protections for DREAMers, and a pathway to citizenship for the hard-working immigrants who make our country the great nation that it is.

How will you prioritize taxes, spending and debt?

Walberg

My top priority will be to continue keeping Michigan’s economy growing. I helped pass comprehensive tax reform for the first time since the 1980’s. Reducing taxes, eliminating the death, stopping wasteful spending, making health care affordable, and pursuing an “all of the above” energy policy are all elements to help grow our economy and help Michigan families.  Presidents Reagan and Kennedy proved that reducing tax rates can spur economic and job growth.

I will also continue to support balance budget amendments to our Constitution and legislation that eliminates government waste. We need to begin promoting reforms that embrace fiscal discipline, lower taxes and smaller government. I continue to support an amendment to the Constitution that requires a 3/5 majority vote to increase the debt limit and for the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress. In January 2016, President Obama signed into law my bipartisan bill to increase government accountability and reduce wasteful spending. The Grants Oversight and New Efficiency (GONE) Act, introduced along with Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), requires federal agencies to take action to identify thousands of expired grant accounts with a zero balance that should be closed out.

Driskell

As a trained accountant I understand the importance of a balanced budget and I support maintaining fiscal responsibility within government. When I was Mayor of Saline, I balanced 14 annual budgets, and in the State House I worked hard to make sure that responsible fiscal initiatives were included in the budget. In addition, cutting and slashing important programs and funding is not the only course of action for deficit reduction. I believe that any strategy should start with removing government waste while ensuring every American pays his or her fair share.

Communities across Michigan are facing drastic increases in the cost of recycling. Should the federal government play a role in helping promote sustainable recycling programs? Please explain.

Walberg

Every community has different needs and dynamics. This issue is best handled at the local and state level.

Driskell

As a community member in Saline, I worked on the commission that started Saline’s recycling program.  As Mayor of Saline, I worked to make our recycling program sustainable, and as your next Congresswoman I hope to be a partner for progress on issues like recycling.  We need to pursue local solutions and new technologies so we no longer have to ship our recyclables around the globe for our programs to be sustainable.

The local and national economies – not to mention American citizens – rely on bridges, roads, rail, water and sewer systems, electric grids and communications network. Much of this infrastructure is aging. Some is failing. How do we improve our infrastructure?

Walberg

There is no doubt we need to continue investing in our nation’s infrastructure. In July 2014 I voted in support of bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5021, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act, to provide nearly $11 billion for highway funding and transportation infrastructure projects. More recently, in June I voted for the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bipartisan bill that provides improvements for ports, locks, ecosystem restoration, and other waterway infrastructure projects critical to Michigan's economic competitiveness. Both pieces of legislation have been signed into law.

Driskell

Michiganders are more successful when they can get to work both safely and quickly. In order to improve our infrastructure we need to make sure that our solutions are not band aids and short term fixes but real investment in our roads and bridges. In addition, we need to update our water and sewer systems and regulate high-speed broadband internet to make sure that every Michigan worker has what they need to get ahead in today’s economy.  Investments in infrastructure will ensure local job growth and make our communities strong.

Away from the votes and the politics, how do you see yourself serving the citizens and communities in the district?

Walberg

By continuing to do what I have always done: be accessible, honest, service-oriented and continuing to work hard in helping make all of our communities a better place. Just in the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of stopping by the community-wide Job Fair organized by the City of Saline, Saline Chamber, Saline Schools, and Saline Main Street; discussing education policy with local school leaders in Saline; and recognizing Coach Al Leslie at the Hornets’ football game. These types of interactions allow me to listen to people’s feedback, keep the pulse of the community, and highlight constituents who are making a positive impact.

Driskell

Aside from votes and committee meetings in Washington, I plan on spending the majority of my time back in the district, in the townships and communities which have been my home for the last 30 years.  I will be active in our district, working with community members and stakeholders to coordinate the solutions for the problems we face here at home.  There are so many opportunities for growth and change here in Michigan’s 7th District, and it will be my honor to connect with and support our constituents as they pursue the future.

 

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Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore is a veteran community journalist. He is founder and owner of TheSalinePost.com. He is co-publisher of The Saline Post weekly newspaper. Email him at tran@thesalinepost.com or call him at 734-272-6294.

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