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Candidates grant last minute interview before election

Election Day across the United States is just around the corner. On Tuesday, November 2, Americans across the country will exercise their right to vote and head to the polls. Despite a busy schedule, Congressman Phil Roe and Scotty Campbell, Republican candidate for state representative for both Johnson and Sullivan counties, took time to sit down with The Tomahawk for a lengthy interview.
The following questions were posed to Congressman Roe. The reporter’s questions are in italics, with replies from Roe and Campbell following the question.
What is the political climate right now?
With the election a week from today, “I think the Republicans have a good chance to take control of the House,” Roe said. A recent article in the New York Times indicated the Republicans stand a good chance to win the House of Representatives, with the Democrats possibly in the lead in the Senate. To win a majority lead in the House of Representatives, Congressman Roe explained, the Republicans need to gain 39 Congressional seats. Elections for the House of Representatives are held every two years. Should the Republicans gain control of the House, Roe believes that John Boehner will be the new Speaker of the House, replacing Democrat Nancy Pelosi. “If we win, he’ll get the credit for that,” Roe said.
Congressman Roe represents the First District for the State of Tennessee. Stopping at close to 500 locations, Roe is aware that the people throughout his district are worried. They are concerned about jobs, and they are concerned about the direction the country is heading. Predictions are that if the United States continues its current job creation and growth, it will take nine years before the country gets back to pre-recession employment numbers. As of the end of September, 2010, the current unemployment rate in the United States is 9.6 percent. Roe referenced another article in The New York Times that said the United States needs to create 125,000 new jobs per month to keep unemployment rates from rising.
Other than getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse, where can meaningful cuts be made to reduce the deficit for the long term?
Congressman Roe explained that in the last two years, discretionary non-defense spending has risen 84 percent. This included spending from the stimulus plan. “Each program should be under scrutiny,” Roe said. This includes looking at military spending and potentially $50 billion in Medicare fraud. The Congressional fiscal year began October 1, 2010. Congress has not yet passed a budget for fiscal year 2011. A continuing resolution that provides temporary funding was sent to the president for signature. “You can’t run your house like that,” said Roe. Campbell added that the State of Tennessee will suffer with the next year’s budget as the state will have $1 billion less in revenue because of the economy.
Would you consider any adjustments to Entitlement Programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps or Public Assistance?
“You have to look at everything,” said Roe. He explained that in ten years, 80 percent of our budget will be spent on Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and interest on the national debt. The remaining 20 percent will be left for the remainder of government programs and departments, including defense spending.
What are your thoughts on random drug testing for recipients of Food Stamps or any type of bublic assistance?
“I have no problem with that,” said Roe. He explained that random drug testing is required for airline pilots and those serving in the military. Expressing the need for education and jobs, Roe added, “”If you have marketable skills and somewhere to work, a lot of these problems would go away.” Roe indicated that he would co-sponsor a bill to implement drug testing for those receiving various public assistance. Scotty Campbell added, “I think this would be efficient at the state level.”
There has been a lot of discussion on TV leading to the mid-term elections and repealing the health care program. What, if any, change would you like to see to the health care program? Do you think they can be accomplished?
“Yes, they can be accomplished,” Roe said. “We passed it and we can repeal it.” Roe entered Congress as a doctor, having served 30 years in healthcare. He expressed concerns about the ever rising cost of health insurance. “You can become bankrupt through no fault of your own,” Roe stated. He explained that the recently passed 2500 page health care bill does not control cost. Roe added that having adult children be able to stay on their parents’ healthcare policies was a good addition to the plan. He is concerned that patients will suffer because of the healthcare bill, explaining that if you ration care you will decrease access, increase your costs and decrease the quality of care.
“We should repeal Obamacare,” Roe said. He is concerned about a government mandate for all individuals to have healthcare insurance, stating the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” “I think it’s a huge constitutional issue,” said Roe. He would like to see people be able to purchase healthcare insurance across state lines, or form cooperatives to reduce their insurance rates. Roe would also like to see tax credits to purchase insurance, expand health savings and a state high-risk pool for those who are non-insurable.
“Health care decisions should be between a patient, the physician and the family,” Roe emphatically stated, “I am absolutely adamant about that.” Roe explained that the healthcare decisions for a patient should be made by the patient and the doctor, not the federal government. He expressed concerned that the price of healthcare insurance is only going to continue to rise and individual insurance markets will go away. He is worried that people will not get to decide the best insurance for them, but instead the government will make that decision. Parts of the healthcare program have been implemented, with total implementation in 2018.
How do you feel about term limits for the House and Senate? Is this feasible?
According to Congressman Roe, elections are costly. Currently there is no limit to the number of terms a member of the either the Congress or the Senate may serve. He believes term limits should be set, with 12 years as the maximum in the House of Representatives, 12 years in the Senate, and eight years for the President. Smiling, Roe added that after that length of service, they should come home.
With the recent Race to the Top in Tennessee schools, do you foresee any impact on the state’s graduation rate?
“We need to challenge our kids,” said Roe. He believes in more local control. “I trust the school board in Johnson County to make good decisions for the students.” Campbell added the Race to the Top program is expensive. Parents may see lower scores on standardized tests because the standards themselves have been changed. He agreed with Congressman Roe that decisions for the students should be made at the local level. “Washington DC doesn’t need to force feed east Tennessee students anything,” Campbell said. He stressed the parents and teachers will work together to determine what is best for the children.
Campbell added there are challenges at the state level. “I back Phil Roe and stand with his conservative principles,” Campbell said “I like Phil Roe because he’s responsive to citizens needs.”