Dean, David seek House seat

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Os­car Gam­ble ogam­ble@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @OGam­ble_TH on Twit­ter

The battle for Penn­syl­va­nia’s newly formed 4th Con­gres­sional District pits Demo­cratic State Rep. Madeleine Dean against Repub­li­can busi­ness­man and en­tre­pre­neur Dan David.

Dean earned her law de­gree from Wi­dener Univer­sity and prac­ticed law lo­cally be­fore be­com­ing an English pro­fes­sor and serv­ing as an Abing­ton Town­ship com­mis­sioner.

David at­tended North­ern Michi­gan Univer­sity and the ex­ec­u­tive ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram at the Whar­ton School at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia. He is co-founder of Skip­pack -based eq­ui­ties re­search firm GeoIn­vest­ing and was in­stru­men­tal in un­cov­er­ing fraud by China-based firms on the U.S. stock ex­change.

While both can­di­dates agree on sev­eral key is­sues — the need for fur­ther health­care re­form; com­mon sense gun laws; and ac­tion plans to tackle the opi­oid epi­demic — they have dif­fer­ing vi­sions of how to achieve these goals.

Al­though most polling shows the district — which now en­com­passes most of Mont­gomery County (ex­cept for Lans­dale, Hat­field and Soud­er­ton/Telford) and an eastern sliver of Berks County (Boy­er­town, Bally and Bech­telsville bor­oughs, and Colebrookdale, Dou­glass and Wash­ing­ton town­ships) — lean­ing heav­ily Demo­cratic, the district, which was re­cently re­drawn in re­sponse to ger­ry­man­der­ing, could prove cru­cial to the over­all bal­ance of power in the House, which is now led by Repub­li­cans.

In sep­a­rate in­ter­views con­ducted re­cently for Dig­i­tal First Me­dia, David and Dean each laid out their case to be elected Nov. 6.

Health care

David: Peo­ple are pay­ing about $8,000 a year be­fore they pay their pre­mi­ums. That’s the flaw in the Af­ford­able Care Act. It was the hu­mane way look at the prob­lem. It wasn’t the busi­ness way to look at the prob­lem be­cause health care falls into four dif­fer­ent buck­ets; costs, qual­ity of care; out­comes; and ac­ces­si­bil­ity, and what the Af­ford­able Care Act did is it gave ev-

ery­body ac­ces­si­bil­ity with­out deal­ing with costs. And when you write a blank check com­pa­nies are go­ing to put in what­ever num­ber they want.

Who com­plained when the af­ford­able care act passed? Drug com­pa­nies? No. Hos­pi­tals? No. Health in­sur­ers? No.

All those for profit com­pa­nies in the health­care in­dus­try were like ‘Ok, we’ll take the ACA, and now they have record prof­its.

It made no sense. You’ve got to deal with the costs first and there are de­fined cost sav­ings. You have reim­por­ta­tion of drugs. We make the drugs here be­cause we have the most ro­bust patent laws and pro­tec­tions and we sell them for half the price to Canada or to China. We’re sub­si­diz­ing the world’s health care.

De­fen­sive medicine costs any­where be­tween $500 and $700 bil­lion dol­lars be­cause doc­tors are in­cen­tivized to pre­scribe ev­ery­thing — they’re paid that way— and get all these test pre­scribed and they’re afraid that if they don’t pre­scribe ev­ery test un­der the sun they’re go­ing to get sued out of prac­tice.

There are other ways of do­ing this, like ne­go­ti­at­ing drug prices as well. Our Medi­care and Med­i­caid pay a com­pany called Ex­press Scripts to ne­go­ti­ate drug prices. Ex­press Scripts is a pub­licly traded com­pany worth 100 bil­lion. I think we could do it for 100 bil­lion

We spend twice as much per capita than any other coun­try on health care and have the worst out­comes out­side of cancer, so when you bring down the costs, we can un­der­stand ex­actly what a sin­gle payer sys­tem costs vs a free mar­ket sys­tem and you can make a ra­tio­nal de­ci­sion. But un­til we bring down the cost and deal with that, we don’t re­ally know what’s right.

David added that while many point to­ward the health­care sys­tem in other coun­tries as a po­ten­tial model, part of the prob­lem is that the U.S. de­fense bud­get far ex­ceeds that of those coun­tries, in part, be­cause Amer­ica is also de­fend­ing them.

Dean: To me health care is a right and all peo­ple, all Penn­syl­va­ni­ans, of course, should have ac­cess to af­ford­able qual­ity health­care.

I’m a state leg­is­la­tor, so if you re­mem­ber back when the Af­ford­able Care Act was passed, gover­nors had the op­por­tu­nity or op­tion to opt into Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion or not.

Gover­nor did not. I was new leg­is­la­tor at the time and we urged him to please ex­pand ac­cess through Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion which Gov. Wolf did. That got an­other 1 mil­lion Penn­syl­va­ni­ans ac­cess not just to phys­i­cal health care but also men­tal health care and ad­dic­tion treat­ment. So I be­lieve we should go far­ther than that and make sure ev­ery per­son has cov­er­age.

Right now in Penn­syl­va­nia we are at a low in terms of the unin­sured rate. We’re at about 7.5 per­cent — about 900,000 peo­ple (unin­sured) — We need to get health­care to every­one.

When I knock on doors it’s the num­ber one is­sue in terms of what peo­ple are con­cerned about.

They’re con­cerned about their pre­mi­ums be­ing too high, their pre­scrip­tion drug costs be­ing to high and for some folks there’s a gap in cov­er­age. I know and be­lieve we should do bet­ter and we should make the Af­ford­able Care Act a stronger, bet­ter, uni­ver­sal piece of leg­is­la­tion so that all peo­ple can have health care.

Guns

Dean: This has been one of my top is­sues, even be­fore I be­came and elected per­son, I took my kids to the Mil­lion Mom March back in 2000. I have cared about gun vi­o­lence in this coun­try my whole adult life. In Penn­syl­va­nia I formed with other mem­bers, the PA safe Cau­cus after the slaugh­ter at Sandy Hook and I was a fresh­men mem­ber at that time and I was ac­tu­ally told by lead­er­ship that fresh­man don’t start cau­cuses. But I didn’t take that to heart.

So what do I want? I want leg­is­la­tion that saves lives. And I be­lieve this needs to be done, must be done at the fed­eral level.

But as a state leg­is­la­tor, watch­ing the feds do noth­ing, I ar­gued in the Penn­syl­va­nia House that we must take the lead in or­der to pro­tect the cit­i­zens of Penn­syl­va­nia, so, I’ve in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion ses­sion after ses­sion, in­clud­ing uni­ver­sal back­ground checks, in­clud­ing just this ses­sion, a ban on bump stocks; lost and stolen (firearms reg­u­la­tion) ; and many other pieces of leg­is­la­tion.

But In Penn­syl­va­nia they haven’t gone very far they rarely come out of the com­mit­tee that I sit on which is ju­di­ciary.

I want to be clear. My pro­posal, my wish, is lit­er­ally to save lives. It has noth­ing with vi­o­lat­ing any­body’s Se­cond Amend­ment rights.

We had un­prece­dented small progress in the Penn­syl­va­nia House this year. Just three weeks ago, we, in the House, passed leg­is­la­tion that the Se­nate passed it too and then sent to the gover­nor for sign­ing that would re­quire manda­tory re­lin­quish­ment of weapons from a per­son sub­ject to a fi­nal or­der of pro­tec­tion from abuse PFA.

Right now un­der the law, it’s not manda­tory with all judges, It’s dis­cre­tionary, It could take up to 60 days and you’re cur­rently al­lowed to hand off to third party that could be your mom, your sis­ter, your brother. We know the deadly re­sults of those kind of prob­lems. So this bill re­quires im­me­di­ate re­lin­quish­ment of a gun to a se­cure third party.

That’s ac­tu­ally go­ing to save lives, so I’m very proud of Penn­syl­va­nia for hav­ing done that. And that’s only one small step. I or­dered the bump stock ban after Los Ve­gas and I had no idea what a bump stock was be­fore Las Ve­gas when 58 peo­ple were mowed down and 500 more were in­jured. We ac­tu­ally passed that out of the ju­di­ciary com­mit­ted but it has not come up for a vote on the floor of the house. I’ll take all these things to the fed­eral level and I be­lieve we are go­ing to be joined by a lot more peo­ple who be­lieve we must do some­thing to stop the slaugh­ter

David: The prob­lem is that with some­one like my op­po­nent, we can say, we agree on some­thing like bump stocks, that ban­ning some­thing that takes a semi au­to­matic weapon and makes it es­sen­tially au­to­matic makes sense. Then, they come up with a bill that bans 15 other things. We just agreed on one thing, why don’t we just pass that bill and be done with it.

If we’re all agree­ing that there’s got to bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween men­tal health and law en­force­ment, let’s pass that bill. If we’re all agree­ing that high ca­pac­ity mag­a­zines are some­thing that we can com­pro­mise on, let’s do that. But let’s not pack 50 things in a bill and say ‘Well, I tried,’ be­cause you know what, you didn’t try. You tried to flip a fast one by every­body.

Opi­oid epi­demic

Dean: This is a grave prob­lem. Last year’s num­bers were a stag­ger­ing in­crease. Last year 72,000 peo­ple died in this coun­try of opi­oid over­doses and it’s all over our com­mu­nity.

What I’ve been fight­ing for at the state level and I’ll fight for at the fed­eral level, is that we shine a bright light on this. We think ut­terly out­side the box and we must treat the dis­ease of ad­dic­tion. This is not treat­ing some crim­i­nal be­hav­ior. This is not treat­ing shame­ful be­hav­ior. This is the dis­ease of ad­dic­tion and the way to do it , again is to pri­or­i­tize the re­sources.

To make sure that in­sur­ers cover treat­ment for re­cov­ery. To make sure there are beds avail­able, that we make sure the stay is ap­pro­pri­ate and the ex­per­tise is there. There is hope. There is re­cov­ery. But we are los­ing a gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple and ad­dic­tion doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor white or black, young or old. It just doesn’t care. It’s a deadly, deadly ad­dic­tion so we have to bring all the re­sources to bear.

When I was in (Wash­ing­ton) DC a year ago, I was in­vited to the white house along with other leg­is­la­tors and I asked this ad­min­is­tra­tion, ‘What are you do­ing about this pub­lic health cri­sis. And at that point, Mick Mul­vaney said he re­ally didn’t know how to drive re­sources to­ward it. Shortly after that,the pres­i­dent de­clared it an emer­gency in our coun­try but didn’t put sub­stan­tive re­sources to­ward it. This is a multi-lay­ered prob­lem that’s go­ing to re­quire tremen­dous re­sources but it’s ab­so­lutely the right thing to do. David: There’s no one magic bul­let. Like with gun vi­o­lence. If you’re talk­ing about source. We know most of our opi­oids come from our south­ern bor­der that’s not in dis­pute. So we do need to se­cure our bor­der. I think we get in­volved into this hy­per­bole of a wall, which is ridicu­lous be­cause Clin­ton built a wall, Bush built a wall, Obama built a wall there’s 1,200 miles of wall be­fore Pres­i­dent Trump pre­tended like he in­vented the word.

Largely where there isn’t a wall there’s the desert — the Sono­ran desert — and its a 50 mile trek. Thou­sands of im­mi­grants die a year try­ing to cross that desert and who’s bring­ing them? They don’t book through Trav­e­loc­ity. This is the car­tel. How are they pay­ing for it? They’re mul­ing. Of course, this makes no sense to me. I’m not for sep­a­rat­ing chil­dren. Of course that was a bad idea, but that in an of it­self is Con­gres­sional in­ac­tion and that’s why I’m run­ning for Congress, be­cause Congress has ceded all its power to the ex­ec­u­tive branch for the last 25 years.

Im­mi­gra­tion

Dean: The way I frame it is to re­mind peo­ple that im­mi­gra­tion is our strength, di­ver­sity is our strength. We ac­tu­ally need more im­mi­gra­tion. Ex­perts tell us that we need more sound im­mi­gra­tion to bring the di­ver­sity in skills, ta­lent,

and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit — peo­ple who are hard­work­ing and also peo­ple who are seek­ing refuge. So what I hope to be a part of is a sen­si­ble, com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form that pre­serves our no­tion of how we value our dif­fer­ences and how we value folks from other coun­tries and of other re­li­gions.

This ad­min­is­tra­tion, a year ago, tried to close down the DACA pro­gram — which al­lows those brought to the United States by un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants a de­ferred ac­tion from de­por­ta­tion. That’s been caught up in the courts. Thank­fully the ad­min­is­tra­tion has been un­suc­cess­ful in shut­ting down DACA

Seven hun­dred thou­sand young peo­ple should not fear de­por­ta­tion from this coun­try that they have known as their coun­try, where they work and they pay taxes. So I hope the court will shut down the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in its at­tempt to de­port young peo­ple that were brought here through no fault of their own and are fully en­gaged in sup­port­ing our com­mu­nity.

I hope we come up with an im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy that makes sense. The no­tion of pour­ing bil­lions of dol­lars into a bor­der wall makes no sense. I took the time to go the bor­der and look at the wall and talk to agents who are sta­tioned there. I took the time to go to the Bucks County de­ten­tion Cen­ter. What I have not had the chance to see is the hor­rific lo­ca­tions of de­ten­tion cen­ters where chil­dren are torn from their par­ents. That is not my Amer­ica. That is Un-Amer­i­can, in­hu­mane, im­moral and it should not be the pol­icy of our govern­ment.

I have voted to pro­tect cities that choose to be sanc­tu­ary cities. II think it makes a less safe com­mu­nity when we man­date that lo­cal law en­force­ment — that’s re­ally there to pro­vide safety — should be handed the job of en­forc­ing im­mi­gra­tion.

David: This takes Con­gres­sional ac­tion to solve. My op­po­nent has come back to the cen­ter now that the pri­maries are over and is now say­ing we need hu­mane bor­der se­cu­rity.

Where we dif­fer is sanc­tu­ary cities. She’s an en­thu­si­as­tic sup­porter of Philadel­phia’s sanc­tu­ary city sta­tus.

The hypocrisy in say­ing we’re for a se­cure bor­der, but if you get past our bor­der, go to one of our cities and we’ll pro­tect you. How does that make any sense?

Peo­ple who em­ploy mi­grant work­ers want a very clear guest worker pro­gram. We should have one. We need Congress to come up with one. I’m not anti im­mi­gra­tion by any stretch.

Our birth rates are now go­ing down so we’re go­ing to cre­ate more jobs over the next 10 years than we are go­ing to have peo­ple go­ing into the work­force with baby boomers go­ing out of the work­force. And we’re go­ing to need to fill that gap with im­mi­grants. We’re a coun­try of im­mi­grants, so it’s su­per im­por­tant that we have a re­ally thought­ful pol­icy that isn’t based in one stance. It isn’t just a lot­tery sys­tem. It isn’t just any kind of one size fits all. We should have a merit based sys­tem like Canada has as well as a lot­tery sys­tem so that peo­ple of all walks get an op­por­tu­nity, and then we still have asy­lum and refugee seek­ers that we take care of.

Taxes

Both Dean and David said they would not have voted for the 2018 om­nibus spend­ing and tax bill passed by Congress ear­lier this year, cit­ing their dis­agree­ment with the low­er­ing of the per­sonal tax rate. David, how­ever, agreed with the low­er­ing of the cor­po­rate tax rate and added that pro­mot­ing Dean, whom he said voted ‘yes’ on ev­ery tax in­crease as a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, is a bad idea. An­other rea­son David said he would not have voted for the tax bill was be­cause he wasn’t go­ing to read 2,200 pages in one day. That sort of thing, he said, has to stop.

Fi­nal pitch

David: I’m fis­cally con­ser­va­tive and so­cially mod­er­ate. It’s about this district and this vote. Do we want to push our coun­try fur­ther to the left or do we want to bring it back to the cen­ter. That’s the bi­nary de­ci­sion to make.

Dean: I hope what vot­ers will see is some­body who’s gen­uinely in­ter­ested in the work. I hope that vot­ers will take a look at my body of work… I hope they’ll see that my di­verse back­ground and my com­mit­ment to prob­lem solv­ing with truth­ful­ness and re­spect for oth­ers is what I bring to the ta­ble. I hope they’ll also see the hard work I did in the Leg­is­la­ture, so I’m pre­pared to go to Congress and fight for the is­sues I’ve been fight­ing for. I’ve al­ready shown that I’m com­mit­ted to speak­ing out, and speak­ing out for de­cency and eth­i­cal good govern­ment that wants to solve peo­ple’s prob­lems for the com­mon good, not spe­cial in­ter­ests.

Madeleine Dean

Dan David

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