Patti Wenzel
Primary Coverage

4th District candidates in the D.C. fray

By - Aug 26th, 2010 04:00 am

Photo courtesy United States Congress

On our continuing journey down the primary road, today we’re pulling over in the 4th Congressional District.

Incumbent Gwen Moore has represented the district in Washington since 2005 and has a minor challenge this year in Paul Morel. The Republican primary is a race between Dan Sebring and political newcomer Ken Lipinski.

Moore has a large financial war chest to draw from, but she has been keeping her campaign low-key, focusing on her Congressional record in regard to economic and education issues.

As a member of both the House Financial Services and Budget committees, Moore has a unique insight into the financial crisis. She has advocated for measures to improve the economic and employment conditions in low-income communities, curb predatory lending in minority neighborhoods, support small business growth and demand compliance to non-discriminatory hiring. She has publicly stood by President Obama, supporting the recently passed Wall Street reforms.

“This reform is about giving families and businesses more security,” she said. “First and foremost – this reform ensures that taxpayers will never again have to pay for the reckless and irresponsible mistakes on Wall Street. We also take great steps to protect consumers and add transparency to financial products. Now consumers must be given clear information on financial products so that they can make the best decision.”

Photo courtesy Gwen Moore for Congress

On schools, Moore has advocated forRace to the Top funds for MPS (an effort that has failed twice) and supports legislation to ensure low-income students have school access to three meals a day. The house committee on education recently passed a key nutritional provision by Moore to provide grants to schools where most students qualify for free or reduced meals to expand or start school breakfast programs.

Moore also worked for the passage of health care reform and promises to continue to work to keep the legislation in place.

“The reforms in this bill give families more choices and more control over their health care. And it completes a goal that has evaded us since President Teddy Roosevelt said that every person deserves health care,” she said.

Morel, the owner of a small technology company, wants to apply common sense solutions to the complex problems facing our nation.

Photo courtesy Paul Morel for Congress

“I’m just a hard-working, tech-savvy guy who believes that I can do a better job as an amateur than the professionals have done.”

Morel says he has a three-point plan to build a stronger economy. He would work to eliminate restrictions on small businesses unless there is a clear legal, environmental or regulatory reason for having them; stop direct spending stimulus packages and eliminate bailouts that allowed politicians and special interests to load up on pork.

Morel would work to eliminate No Child Left Behind. He would also like to see the end of unfunded federal education mandates and encourage students to seek training and educational opportunities outside of the college track.

“College is expensive and for a variety of reasons, is not a viable option for everyone. I think we must support a wide range of advanced training in addition to traditional college degrees.”

Morel supported the passage of health care reform, but he is concerned that the expanded coverage and benefits will disappear unless adequate funding is put in place. He is a believer in programs such as BadgerCare as a way to hold down costs, eliminating the need to ration services.

“We should run 50 individual state programs and let the governors and state legislators use the experiences from their own states and from other states to continually improve each program according to the needs of the citizens of the various states.”

The Republican receiving the most notice is Sebring, the owner of a small auto repair business who also ran as a write-in against Moore in 2008.

Sebring is against the economic stimulus, saying the nearly $800 billion program was wasted and did not help citizens.  He plans to fight for balanced budgets, adherence to free market principles, a sound monetary policy and keeping government intervention in the economy as minimal as possible.

Photo courtesy Dan Sebring for Congress

Sebring wants to see the entire 4th District designated a Federal Enterprise Zone to keep the bulk of tax breaks and encourage job development. He would require companies that take  those incentives to hire employees residing in the district.

Sebring wants to eliminate federal intervention in schools, saying that there is no constitutional authority for the Federal government to fund schools or dictate curricula.

“The state and local  governments, along with parents and students, are best equipped to determine the direction of education,” he says. “The more the feds get involved, the more difficult it is to meet the goals to educate kids.”

Along those lines, Sebring is a firm believer in school choice, voucher schools and home schooling. He looks at the U.S. Department of Education and the Secretary of Education as areas to cut fat in the federal budget.

On health care, he will advocate for converting health insurance companies to “health financing” companies, in which individuals or businesses would buy into a financing group at a minimum rate. Each person would have a credit card for health purchases, allowing consumers to shop for care by their criteria – price, location, doctor type – and forcing medical providers to respond to market forces of pricing. Patients would pay for their own medical costs like they do with other purchases, but the interest accrued on medical costs would be tax deductible.

Sebring’s program would zero out  costs for preventative care, childbirth and catastrophic care for possible fatal diseases and provide a once-in-a-lifetime debt elimination from medical costs, all funded by the government.

“This plan provides low cost of entry for the consumer, places the consumer in total control of their health care decisions and give them the added power of full knowledge of price as a component of their decision making,” Sebring notes on his website.

Photo courtesy Kenneth Lipinski for Congress

Lipinski, a motorcycle officer in the Milwaukee Police Department, is campaigning on a platform of morality, patriotism and God. He is pro-life, pro-gun and believes the best social program created is a job.

On the subject of the economy, Lipinski says spending to get out of debt is the wrong way to go. He would work to implement spending cuts and tax breaks to encourage companies to stay in the United States and keep Americans employed.

“We need to stop outsourcing our jobs to other countries that make cheap throw-away televisions,” Lipinski told Wisconsin Public Radio.

He wants to lift restrictions on oil drilling and coal mining to end energy dependence. By having domestic energy sources, the money saved on imported oil and coal can be reinvested into American businesses. He would also advocate for the use of nuclear power, but he did not have a plan for spent fuel disposal.

Lipinski doesn’t address education and health care in his campaign literature or statements, but he would like the United States to demand nations receiving aid from the World Monetary Fund to pay back the money in full.

“Take Haiti, for example. We bailed them out with our tax dollars, but what did we get for it and they don’t intend to pay it back.”

While Lipinski means well, he is a one issue candidate and seemingly unprepared for a national office. I would suggest Lipinski start on the local level and build his way up.

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