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Seven questions for the candidates in the NY-27 race

A little more than a week ago, we sent seven questions to each of the candidates for NY-27 congressional seat.

The rules were:

Here are seven questions we are asking each of the candidates to answer. Answers are due by Noon, Nov. 2. We’re asking each candidate to answer the questions directly without referring to your opponent or members of the opposing party. This is about each candidates positions on these issues, not what they think about the opposing party or the opposing candidate. Please craft answers accordingly. Answers will be published verbatim in a Q&A format.

Below are the questions and the answers from Chris Collins. Though we were told to expect answers from Kathy Hochul's campaign, we have not received the answers.

What would be your top priority over the next two years to help lower the costs of medical care – if it’s even possible – in the United States?

We must repeal ObamaCare which is, in effect, a government takeover of medical care in the United States and will greatly increase the cost of medical care. ObamaCare dictates to employers what benefits to provide even if those benefits are not needed or wanted by employees. ObamaCare greatly expands Medicaid which is already out of control in New York State and in many cases consumes 100% of county property taxes. We can’t afford more. We need tort reform with a cap on medical malpractice awards. Too much medicine is defensive medicine (some say as much as 30%). Tort reform is our greatest opportunity to reduce the cost of medicine.

What is your ideal future for Medicare?

We must repeal ObamaCare which cuts $716 billion from Medicare including cuts to current seniors, including my 85-year-old Mom. ObamaCare is focused on ending Medicare Advantage by cutting payments to providers which will result in increased premiums and cuts to benefits. Well over 50% of seniors in the 27th Congressional District depend on Medicare Advantage, including my 85-year-old Mom. We should not make cuts to Medicare for seniors age 55 or over, which is why we must repeal ObamaCare. We must work together to make sure Medicare is solvent for future generations and those age 55 and under.

Should the federal tax system be changed – flat tax or consumption tax instead of income tax, or remain as it is? If an income tax, should deductions such as the home mortgage interest deduction be eliminated?

We should make the current tax code flatter and fairer. The maximum marginal tax rate should be 25% - 28% to compete with the rest of the world. We can cap itemized deductions for higher wage earners so the top 1% still pay 37% of the nation’s tax. We should not eliminate mortgage interest deductions since we want to encourage home ownership.

Would you support military action against Iran to prevent that country from obtaining either a nuclear weapon or the capability to build one?

Military action should always be a last resort but the United States cannot allow Iran to obtain nuclear capabilities. All options should be on the table, but military action must be a last resort.

Genesee County needs to spend as much as $15 million on road and bridge repair in the next five years. What will you do, if anything, to help the county pay for infrastructure repair?

The federal government plays a role in infrastructure repair and should continue to do so. As Erie County Executive, I prioritized infrastructure repairs as an important piece of making the county a place where businesses wanted to locate.

What is your position on WNY STAMP? Should federal grants and subsidies be directed to that project to help bring businesses into the industrial park?

WNY STAMP is an opportunity to bring good jobs to our region. The decision should ultimately rest with the local community.

Sen. Charles Schumer supports building a section of high-speed rail through a portion of Genesee County in the area of Bergen. What is your position on this project?  

I do not support high speed rail. The United States has $16 trillion in debt and currently runs a $1 trillion yearly deficit. We are broke and the cupboards are bare.

UPDATE: We received Hochul's answers this afternoon as I was on my way to Rochester to cover the Notre Dame game, or I would have posted them several hours ago.

What would be your top priority over the next two years to help lower
the costs of medical care – if it’s even possible – in the United
States?

I am confident our country can slow, and even reverse the skyrocketing growth in health care costs.  First of all, Medicare should be allowed to negotiate with drug companies and secure lower cost prescription drugs for our seniors.  We must also look to new, innovative methods of care delivery, specifically care coordination. If different parties in the health care sector – hospitals, primary care physicians, specialists, insurance companies, etc. – all work together to coordinate patient care and ensure that everyone is on the same page, the quality of care will improve, and the cost of care will go down.  There is also great potential for reducing health care costs through the use of tele-medicine, especially in rural communities.  To make this a reality, I introduced Veterans Tele-Health legislation to ensure we save our veterans valuable time and money when while providing them with the health care they need.

What is your ideal future for Medicare?



We must ensure our seniors can continue to rely on the Medicare program they have earned and paid into their whole lives.  To keep the program viable, we must eliminate wasteful spending and lower the cost of healthcare.  That is why I introduced the Stop Medicare Fraud Act, which would dramatically increase penalties for defrauding Medicare and redirect those funds to the prosecution of fraud.   I do not support the Paul Ryan budget proposal, which would end Medicare as we know it and essentially transform Medicare into a voucher program. 

Should the federal tax system be changed – flat tax or consumption tax
instead of income tax, or remain as it is? If an income tax, should
deductions such as the home mortgage interest deduction be eliminated?



I do not support imposing a national sales tax on all Americans, and I believe that billionaires should be expected to contribute more to reducing the deficit than middle class families.  Overall, we do need a simpler tax code and must comb through the tax code line by line to make sure it is fair and encourages job creation here in America.  That is why I support ending tax breaks for Big Oil companies earning billions of dollars in profit, and why I cosponsored legislation to close tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Would you support military action against Iran to prevent that country
from obtaining either a nuclear weapon or the capability to build one?



Under no circumstances can we allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and we must leave all options on the table.  In Congress, I have consistently stood with Israel and voted to strengthen crippling sanctions against Iran, sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.  I have also helped lead the fight to monitor Hezbollah's activities in the Western Hemisphere, and have pushed the European Union to formally designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Genesee County needs to spend as much as $15 million on road and
bridge repair in the next five years. What will you do, if anything,
to help the county pay for infrastructure repair?



The best way to shore up finances for Genesee County and local governments in Western New York is to create a strong economic environment where jobs are being created and employers are hiring. Right now, the Greek yogurt industry is booming. To ensure New York yogurt is always made with New York milk and to boost local economic development, we need to cut red tape for dairy farmers so they can increase their production to supply the projected 15% change in demand for milk from yogurt companies. On the federal level, I’ve been advocating for increased infrastructure funding and sponsored an amendment to protect dedicated funding for rural bridge repairs when some in Congress tried to eliminate this program.

What is your position on WNY STAMP? Should federal grants and
subsidies be directed to that project to help bring businesses into
the industrial park?



Of course, land use decisions should be made by local residents -- not the federal government.  When community support for a project is strong, like it is for developments at the Agri-Business park, I support the use of targeted grants and tax incentives to encourage businesses invest in Western New York.  Ultimately, it is the private sector that creates jobs--not the government.  As your Representative, I am working to foster a better business environment that is conducive to job creation and economic growth.  To close the skills gap that holds back growth in advanced manufacturing, I have held school-to-work roundtables to partner local employers with educators.  And in Congress, I introduced legislation to provide tax breaks to businesses that manufacture in America and partner with local schools to provide students with on-the job training opportunities.

Sen. Charles Schumer supports building a section of high-speed rail
through a portion of Genesee County in the area of Bergen. What is
your position on this project?

The residents of Bergen should decide if a project of this scale is right for their community. I do believe we need targeted investments in infrastructure, including transportation, to advance our economy. To take advantage of the new economy and ensure agricultural producers can reach new markets and customers, we need to more robustly invest in all forms of transportation infrastructure, including our roads and highways, airports and runways, harbors and waterways, as well as rail systems.

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