Courtney seeks to serve District 1 in U.S. House
Courier Publications reporters and editors came up with a list of questions for candidates based in part on concerns raised by members of the public in "Heard on the Street" interviews. The questions were posed to candidates via email.
Jonathan Courtney, a Republican from Sanford, is seeking to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, for District 1. He is facing off against Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven.
Why are you running?
I am running because Washington is broken. I have a strong record of working with Democrats, Republicans and Independents. This is in stark contrast with what is happening in Washington and we need a change. We currently have a $16 trillion debt and Congress has passed it on to our children and I cannot stand by and see it passed on to my grandchildren.
What changes, if any, would you propose or support to federal programs providing health coverage and disability benefits to citizens, including Medicare, Medicaid and social security?
We need to strengthen and protect the system as it exists for citizens that are 55 and older. For citizens like myself that are younger than 55, we need to be prepared for changes such as changes to the retirement age and rewarding providers for keeping people healthy, rather than the number of visits or tests ordered. We also need to look at the special treatment that some members of Congress and their large donors receive and make sure that they follow the same rules that we have to on Main Street.
Do you support a government program to create a single-payer universal health care program, or do you feel these services would be better provided in the private sector? Can you explain your position on national health care?
I support expanding market-based reforms like we are doing in Maine that will incentivize young, healthy people to purchase health insurance. We should make it simple to purchase health insurance so someone could purchase it from their computer at their kitchen table. We must work together to find ways to lower the cost of health care so it is affordable and not tax or fine those who cannot afford it.
What changes would you propose or support when it comes to tax policies?
I would like to simplify the tax code like we did here in Maine by taking 70,000 low income taxpayers off the rolls. I would also like to close the loopholes for the politically well-connected that shelter the money they earn by moving their companies overseas.
What is your position on women's health issues including insurance coverage for contraceptives and the option of having abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancies?
I oppose abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. I believe insurance companies should cover contraceptives.
What would you do about the ongoing presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan? Do you support the planned withdrawal?
We need to get our troops home as soon as possible. I believe we would have had them home already had the administration kept the deadlines private rather than telling our foes how long they needed to wait us out. We must always negotiate from a position of strength and when our soldiers are forced into conflict they must have everything that they need to be safe and successful.
What should we as a nation do for veterans returning from Afghanistan and other war zones?
First we must always honor and remember their service. We must also help them and their families as they transition back into a regular routine. We must make sure that we fund the veteran health centers and provide additional educational opportunities to help them transition back to the work force.
What do you think should be done to stimulate the economy and job growth?
We need to reduce our $16 trillion national debt, which is now more than $50,000 per person. We must get members of Congress to talk to one another and work together so we can create predictability and encouragement for those who create jobs. I also believe we need to loosen the regulations so people who are underwater on their home mortgages can benefit from the low interest rates. The housing market is a tremendous resource that will stimulate the recovery.
What should be done about the national deficit?
The only way to solve this crisis is through economic growth. We must create policies that will encourage job creation and long-term investment. Some will say that taxes need to be increased and I do not agree. The Congressional Budget Office has said that if taxes are increased as scheduled on Jan. 1, 2013 then they predict unemployment will increase by 1 percent. I would try to level the playing field for those who earn money in the United States and then move their companies overseas to avoid taxes.
Can you explain what role, if any, you feel the government should play in providing higher education to low income and middle income high school graduates concerned about the cost of school loans?
We need to force the state universities to find efficiencies to reduce the costs of college. This can be done by directing new educational dollars to increased student enrollment. We also need to make sure that a student can earn a living that reflects the investment in their area of study. We should expand the community colleges. We also need to make sure that students and parents can benefit from the low interest rates that are currently available.
What is your position on the environment? What specific policies would you support in balancing the needs of the environment with the needs of industry and the economy?
As chair of the Regulatory Reform Committee in Maine we clarified and simplified regulation while protecting the environment. This sent a strong message that we did not have to accept a second class economic status to live in Maine. I would continue these efforts in Washington. I have also been a strong supporter for the development of alternative energy but it must become competitive without government subsidies in the long-term.
Where do you stand on campaign financing?
As a candidate that will be out spent 15-1, I think the current system stinks. I believe the current system favors special interest and incumbents. The so-called reforms that were done a few years ago have made things worse. I understand and support free speech but I think it would be refreshing if all campaign advertising had to come directly through the candidate rather that some anonymous front.
Do you support allowing gay marriage?
Can you tell us a little bit about your family? Are you married with children or grandchildren?
I am married (Nancy). I have three grown children, three grown stepchildren, three grandchildren, three dogs and three cats.