The Pocahontas Times and Allegheny Mountain Radio hosted a forum for U.S. Congress District 3 candidates at the AMR studio in Frost last Wednesday evening. Republican candidate Evan Jenkins participated in the forum, but Democratic incumbent candidate Nick Rahall was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.
Jenkins responded to several questions during the forum. A transcript of the first four questions follows. See a video of the entire forum on the video page of The Pocahontas Times website.
Question 1: Is the U.S. government doing enough to protect the American people from
potentially deadly biological organisms, such as Ebola? What actions or policy would you propose to address this issue?
Jenkins: I think, unfortunately, this President, like on so many issues, is a little bit late to the dance. His actions over the least several weeks; his efforts to reassure the American people that everything was being done; and that the chances were very, very remote that anybody could come to this country that was affected by Ebola – even more remote, the idea that an American citizen here, not having traveled overseas, would be exposed. Of course, we found out this morning that, horrifically, a second health care worker in the United States has been exposed to and has come down with Ebola, and that that person was riding around on airplanes in the last couple of days, even when ,apparently, he first saw the fever coming on. So, the stock market incredibly tanked today, out of this real fear and concern. But this is a crisis. This is a very serious concern about an epidemic. We need to get the CDC’s house in order. It’s time for ‘game on’ for them. In fact, it should have been on, literally, weeks and months ago. But we need to step up the efforts. We need protocols in place. We need to make sure that hospitals like Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where these two health care workers contracted Ebola, from taking care of a patient already infected – we ned to do better. We need the CDC to step up to the plate and the President needs to exercise some leadership, which has been very slow in coming.
Question2: What should the U.S. government be doing about the radical Islamic group ISIS in the Middle East?
Jenkins: What’s happening overseas, again, frustratingly, this President called ISIS a JV team. He downplayed their radical Islamic connections and we see where it has gotten us. The horrific beheadings that we have seen just sent a chill up every person’s spine. Understanding that this is a movement, a radical group that must be stopped. I fully support air strikes, as we see occurring in Iraq. I also support seeing the airstrikes in Syria. The issue of boots on the ground – I think it is most important that we look to the Arab neighbors of Syria and Iraq and expect them to step up to the plate and become much more engaged. This is in their own backyard. And, while they have apparently lent some support – a little bit of air support, bases for training of soldiers, and other incidental help – what we need is them to step up in a much bigger way. I do not support boots on the ground of American soldiers to go over there and fight, but I do support the air strikes that are occurring.
Question3: According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources,
as of July 3, more than 132,000 West Virginians have been enrolled in expanded Medicaid health insurance coverage, made available by the Affordable Care Act. Would you support continued implementation of the ACA in West Virginia?
Jenkins: I am a believer that we need to repeal and replace, or repeal and fix Obamacare. Obamacare was the wrong recipe for addressing the problems in our health care system. Our health care system has very serious problems. It has in the past and, tragically, still does. We need to do reform correctly. My day job is that I’m the director of the State Medical Association. I’ve been in that capacity for about 14 years. My passion is health care and preserving that doctor-patient relationship is critically important. That’s not what Obamacare did. What Obamacare did was put government in-between you, the patient, and your doctor. The idea that big government would say, ‘we’re going to mandate that you buy an insurance product, we’re going to tell you exactly what’s in that product; and three, if you don’t buy it and you don’t buy what we tell you to buy, we’re going to fine you.’ The Democratic-controlled House, at that time, and Nancy Pelosi, with full support of Nick Rahall, passed Obamacare, which takes over $700 billion out of Medicare. They raided Medicare and jeopardized the financial solvency of Medicare to pay for Obamacare. Medicare Advantage was raided by over $100 billion, putting our seniors, putting home health services at risk. We do have 120,000 to 130,000 new enrollees in Medicaid. West Virginia has over 5,000 people who have had their insurance cancelled because of Obamacare. Labor organizations stepped up in a big way. There’s a letter from Jimmy Hoffa, with the Teamsters, to the Democratic leaders, saying that Obamacare is going to ruin the traditional 40-hour work week. Health care reform is desperately needed. We don’t need to it in a big government approach, like Nancy Pelosi and Nick Rahall drove in Congress. We need to do it right. We need to protect the doctor-patient relationship. We need to ensure that Medicare is solvent. But Obamacare raided Medicare by over $700 billion. The increases that our seniors are seeing, on average, is about $1,500, as a result of the cost of Obamacare getting pushed onto seniors. We need to expand coverage. We need to address the issues of Medicaid. But the big government approach by Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Nick Rahall – that prescription is not working for the people of West Virginia.
Question 4: What changes do you support in the federal taxation system? If you support tax cuts, what programs would you propose to cut or eliminate to enable those tax cuts?
Jenkins: We’ve got a $17.5 trillion deficit in the United States. It is bankrupting the future of our children and our grandchildren. It is time that we get our fiscal house in order. Since Nick Rahall was first elected in 1976 – he’s been there 38 years – the debt and deficit has grown dramatically. In fact, of the $17.5 trillion, $16.5 has come along in his watch. Tax and spend Washington does not work. It is jeopardizing the future of our children and grandchildren. We do need tax reform. Look what’s happening with all of the businesses that just recently have been leaving our country to relocate their corporate ownership overseas, to become overseas corporations because of a more favorable tax rate. I was in the southern part of the state earlier today with Congressman Tom Price. Tom Price is the number two person on the budget committee in the U.S. House. Paul Ryan is moving up and Tom Price is the next chair of the very powerful budget committee. He was in West Virginia stumping for me. So, we will have good connections and have the ear of those folks who are putting together the budget. We’ve got to get our fiscal house in order.
See a video of the entire forum with Jenkins on the video page at pocahontastimes.com. Early voting began on October 22. Election Day is Tuesday, November 4.