WESTCHESTER, N.Y. The past year was filled with tough battles in Congress, as a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democratic-controlled Senate fought tooth and nail over historically uncontroversial legislation.
The new year will bring Rep. Nan Hayworths (R,C District 19) first incumbent reelection bid. The campaign is already shaping up to be tough, with multiple Democratic challengers, and record low Congressional approval ratings. In her own words, the member of Congress in her first term discusses what she sees as challenges for the new year, and victories of the past. This interview was edited for length.
What did you learn in your first year in Congress? Compromise? Steadfastness?
The principals are foundational, and my philosophical underpinnings have not changed at all. My goal as a federal legislator is to work constructively with all my federal legislators irrespective of their party affiliation. Im not someone whos stomped around saying we need to shut down the federal government. That would ill serve any of us.
What are some of the issues youll be focusing on in 2012?
Our broad theme is bringing the federal government to the right size to serve us and not get in the way of the kind of enterprise that has made our economy the strongest in the world throughout our countrys history. We need to simplify our tax code, and Democrats and Republicans alike have talked about that. Thats an important long term goal we need to get moving on this year.
We need to minimize the burdens that the people of the United States, the families, the middle class, which of course we all think about, every working American, every hard working taxpayer. One of the biggest one is the 2010 health law, which I think should be repealed and replaced, and we have good ideas with how to replace that law.
We want to grow the economy and grow jobs. We want everyone in the Hudson Valley who needs a job to have a job.
What would you propose replacing the health care reform law with?
Three basic moves. First, make it possible and easy for every American to have a health savings account as the basis for their health insurance. Theres a place in the country where this has worked, its worked well for state employees and Medicaid recipients, the State of Indiana. So, I would use that as a model for across the country.
Second, open up insurance availability in a health savings account context if you will, most folks will buy real insurance, which is catastrophic insurance, for when you have a big expense. With health savings accounts people pay for routine things out of their health savings account. Then they can appreciate the savings. Then you know, you buy catastrophic insurance for big costs, the same way you do with your car. And I would allow that to be sold across state lines. Right now, it really isnt the case.
The third would be liability reform. Real reform of our very costly way of pursuing medical liability, we need to protect our patients theres no question. We need to have all the appropriate ways to discipline, or remove from practice doctors who do not do the right thing for their patients, theres no question.
What would you replace the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act with?
Better tools for enforcement of the laws that we have had for decades, and have been modified over decades right into the 2000s. But if you look at these big cases of fraud, Madoff comes to mind, the Stanford case, the regulators should have been able to identify violations of existing law, but couldnt, didnt, for numbers of reasons.
If we listen to people who are in the industry, there are better ways to do these things. And the other element is that we do not have the federal government with an enormous role in the housing and mortgage marketplace. Thats something that we can trust the common sense of the American people on, to a far greater degree. There are numbers of ways in which the federal governments role made the crisis of 2008 happen.
One of them is the federal government was bailing out institutions for a couple of decades, which creates whats called a moral hazard. So if you made bad decisions, federal government would step in and take over, thats not a good place to be.
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