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Garcia talks private market, ISIS and the Department of Education

Last modified: 10/22/2014 12:42:24 AM
State Rep. Marilinda Garcia has never promoted the idea of repealing and replacing the federal health care overhaul known as Obamacare, she told the Monitor yesterday.

But that’s not because Garcia, the Republican nominee for Congress in the 2nd District, thinks the law should stay on the books, though.

“I’m not interested in repealing Obamacare to then replace it with another broad sweeping government mandate that’s a sixth of our economy. I don’t agree with that at all,” she said.

Efforts to reform health care should look instead to reforms Garcia said she’s been working to implement during her four terms representing Salem in the state Legislature: “transparency, portability, the availability of purchasing from wherever you’d like, and allowing the specialty sector to develop and the innovation economy of medical devices. That’s where the development happens, which does allow for lower prices and more options.

“I’ve never said I want to repeal this and leave us with nothing. But I also have never said I want to replace it with some other form of a government takeover,” she said.

She also said “the jury’s still out” on economists’ claims that the popular parts of Obamacare – refusing to let insurers deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, for example – are financially unfeasible without a mandate that everyone purchase insurance.

“I don’t think you have to force everyone. I think you allow for the expansion of a market, and encourage everyone to find the option that best suits their need,” she said.

Garcia also cited the power of the private market in a discussion of the environment.

“In every industry, it’s been the private market – be it cars, be it home products, anything – it’s the private market that’s at the forefront of development in technology that make things cleaner and safer and more cost-effective,” she said. “It’s rarely the government. The government slows down those processes. The private market speeds them up.”

Republicans can retake a mantle of being stewards of the environment if they stop letting Democrats demonize them on the issue, she said.

Garcia said she has felt demonized throughout the campaign by her Democratic opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster.

“Anyone wanting to make reforms is immediately demonized. . . . When I talk about reforms, even though I say, preserving anyone 55 and older from these changes, she’s running around telling seniors, ‘Watch out, she’s out to get you,’ ” Garcia said.

Garcia would advocate raising the eligibility age for Social Security for people currently younger than 55, and said linking the program to a price index and means-testing for recipients “are all possible reforms we could look at.”

She’s “not inclined” to support raising the cap on wages taxed for Social Security, but said, “I’m not an expert, but I’d love to be involved in figuring out what makes the most sense, what has the most potential for solvency.”

Kuster has also been attacking Garcia for comments she made at a July event, where she was asked whether she would support abolishing the federal Department of Education.

“That sounds like a good idea,” she said. “If there’s no fiscal management, there’s no accountability, it seems to me that things like that need to be completely shaken up, and one way to do that is to say, ‘Hey, we’re done with this,’ and move it back to the states.”

Yesterday, Garcia denied saying she would abolish the department.

“I was criticizing it. There needs to be accountability and transparency,” she said. “If the congresswoman wants to support the department with more money and no accountability, I disagree.”

The federal government has “gone quite outside of its scope and just reached into a lot of areas it can’t possibly stay abreast of,” instead of focusing on its prime directives of safety and infrastructure, she said.

She would support sending ground troops to conflicts in the Middle East if that is the recommendation of military leaders, even though “understandably, the American people don’t have an appetite for re-engaging there,” she said.

“But if this is in our national interest and if . . . the airstrikes aren’t working alone and ISIS has tactical momentum, which is a euphemism for ‘we’re losing,’ we need all options available,” she said.

“There are a lot of concerns with what’s going on in the world. . . . (Safety) is kind of the be all and end all of what everything else stems from. If people don’t feel safe, and if they in fact aren’t safe, a lot of the other issues melt away,” she said.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)


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