Congressional candidate Joseph Selvaggi joined us for a live chat with Westwood Patch readers on Tuesday morning. Many of the questions submitted were about his position on healthcare and job creation. Selvaggi will look to challenge Democrat Stephen Lynch in November. He first must run against Matt Temperley in Thursday's Primary Election.
Check out the following short recap, or browse through the
On Unemployment and Creating Jobs
Erin Simms: Joe, I met you at the Scituate town day and liked what you had to say. What would you do to create jobs and reduce unemployment?
Selvaggi: Unemployment, America only works when Americans are working. It breaks my heart to see so many families struggling to find work. The unemployment rate in our district is nearly 7% and more than double that figure for young people and those with high school educations. I meet many of these struggling families in my Plaster Fun Time stores, I meet them in the many town days, or town meetings and I am running for Congress because I want to fight for them. While there are no easy answers to these questions, I will say that we need to encourage small businesses to grow and hire new employees. Companies like mine create 2 out of every 3 new jobs in America. We need to reduce the complexity of the tax and regulatory code, we need to reduce healthcare costs through real healthcare reform, and we need to reduce taxes on new companies and new investments. Details of my plans are found on my website: www.Joe4Jobs.com. Fixing our struggling economy will be my highest priority.
Kerry McIntyre: My husband lost his job two months ago and we are very concerned about the economy. I spoke with you when you were out getting signatures and you seemed like a nice guy. How would you help create new jobs?
Selvaggi: While I do not know in which field your husband works, the 8th district is trying to become a center for bio-tech, medical devices, and information technology. Lower taxes on new investment will encourage new companies to choose Massachusetts.
We need clear signals form Washington. The fact that we have not had a budget in three and a half years is why many are sitting on the sideline waiting to invest.
On National Debt
Maura Keating : We met briefly at an event you attended in our town. It was clear to me that you are very aware of the issues that face our country, especially our national debt. It was so refreshing to hear your great ideas. Can you please talk about how you would work to reduce the debt?
Selvaggi: Our debt is crippling our economy. I would like to grow our way out of the deficit spending track that we are on. We must reduce our spending to a rate that we have observed for the last 40 years which was 20% of GDP. Last year, our government spent 25%. We cannot continue that rate of spending.
On the revenue side, I like the essence of the proposals in the Simpson Bowles plan. We clean up our tax code and apply to same rate to all businesses we can realize a better revenue stream. Our current 88,000 page tax code is a bonanza of exceptions for those who are well connected and have the power to lobby for favors.
On Obama Care
Joan Howell : Hi, Sorry, I haven't followed your campaign and the answer may be on your web site, but I would like to hear how you feel about Obama care. And if you are not for Obama care how do you feel about the MA mandated health care.
Selvaggi: I do not like Obamacare for the simple reason that it added 32 million people to a broken system. Even its supporters appreciate that it did little to reduce costs.
As I wrote earlier, I want to get Americans back to work. We must reduce the cost of healthcare by truly reforming the system. We need cost transparency, Health Savings Accounts, and the ability to choose cheaper options for care. I believe that if healthcare is exposed to market forces, we will get better, cheaper, and more efficient systems.
I am not a fan of any federal mandate for care. I might propose an opt out system that encourages participation without a mandate.
On Social Security:
Matthew Maffei: When you came to speak with our group in Hingham I was very impressed with what you had to say. I am most interested in how you would fix Social Security?
Selvaggi: Social Security is one of the most successful government programs ever designed. But is now is the biggest single expense of our federal government. Solving Social Security should not be a political football.
We know all of the variables in the equation. The “pig in the python” metaphor is my favorite for describing the challenge of the cost of paying benefits to the baby boom generation as they begin to retire. I am not in favor of raising the cap on payments as many have suggested. Indeed, such a step would impose a tax of nearly $1 trillion dollars on the payrolls of America and would indeed “solve” the payment issue. The problem is that such a step would cripple our economy and make our jobs situation worse. Making an employee 12% more expensive to pay means fewer employees and higher unemployment.
I favor changing the benefit plan for those whose retirement is still far enough off to adjust. People are living and working longer. My life expectancy the year I was born was 76, now it is 86. I am thrilled to get the extra ten years but we need to adjust our programs to reflect these changes. Options for delaying benefits should reflect that change. I would also favor adjusting the annual increases to higher income seniors to better reflect the spirit of the program as a safety net. Those whose benefits would not satisfy their lifestyle would have the option for additional private retirement accounts. Although these solutions should be tackled immediately, their implementation should happen far enough in the future for beneficiaries to adjust.
I have more details on my website: Joe4Jobs.com
On Democrat Opponent Stephen Lynch
Bob: Why are you a better candidate than Stephen Lynch?
Selvaggi: I have met Congressman Lynch and I like his story of working his way up form very humble start.
However, as our representative in Congress there is no doubt that Congressman Lynch is part of the old guard political machine. He has been in Congress since 2001 and has not had a single bill that he has directly sponsored become law. He is on the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, the committee that reduces waste fraud and abuse in our federal government and has earned a lifetime score of 7% from the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. That failing score means that he has voted for waster 93% of the time.
He describes himself as a moderate Democrat yet he voted with Nancy Pelosi 94% of the time and 98% of the time in the last complete session. Barney Frank only voted with the democrats 97%. Lynch is no moderate, he is not interested in reducing waste, and is no friend to business (US Chamber of Commerce 13%). We must get our economy on track and Stephen Lynch is not doing a good job representing our district.