Fleitman hopes for chance to challenge Neal
Date: 8/16/2010Aug. 16, 2010
By G. Michael Dobbs
NORTHAMPTON -- Republican Jay Fleitman is running for the chance to face Congressman Richard Neal in the fall because "in early 2009 I became alarmed about the direction the country is taking."
A father of two, the Northampton resident and physician added, "I'm concerned about the nature of the country we are leaving behind."
A doctor with his own practice for 26 year as well as the owner of another small business, Fleitman told Reminder Publications
in a telephone interview, the heart of his campaign is an effort to preserve individual liberties.
Fleitman will be facing Hopedale businessman and Navy veteran Tom Wesley in the Sept. 14 primary.
The healthcare debate is one of the central issues voters are speaking about with Fleitman, he said.
Fleitman asserted the present legislation would raise the cost of insurance and increase unemployment as businesses shed workers in a way to contain costs. The recently passed legislation is "a jobs bill for China and India."
Saying he could easily speak an hour or two in the subject, Fleitman said a priority is to remove the "insurance bureaucrats" who stand in the way of doctors and patients making decisions.
He added there are many ways to control costs.
Fleitman said he does not believe having access to healthcare is a right, but rather "a necessity, such as food, heating and housing. Likening the present health insurance system to buying food, Fleitman said imagine an employers paying for "food insurance. Under the health insurance model, an employee would go to a market, pay a $35 co-pay and buy whatever he or she wanted.
"Very few would buy hamburger or chicken," Fleitman said. "They'd line up to buy steak or lamb."
He maintained the one way under this plan to control costs is to ration services. He said all consumers must enter an insurance pool that subsidizes care to some by the premiums paid by others,
He would like to see consumers have the opportunity to buy health plans offered in other states, which he said would drive down costs. Consumers must be involved in the cost of medical services. He also called for tort reform and for decreasing of the cost of drugs.
He noted he frequently calls pharmacists on behalf of his patients to try to find the lowest cost for prescriptions.
Also at the top of his list of issues are unemployment and the deficit. He believes we "must do something drastic and soon" to address both.
He said, if elected, he would advocate for spending bills that would require renewal every two years. He would eliminate earmarking funds. He would vote in favor of banning any new discretionary spending. He would push to have the president trim the federal bureaucracy by 20 percent. All unspent stimulus or bank bailout money would be used to trim the deficit.
Acknowledging the wars in the Middle East have increased the deficit, he said he agrees with President Barack Obama that troops can be removed from Iraq.
"We now won the war in Iraq," he said.
He called Afghanistan "a mess," but added he hesitated giving many options because he is relying on news reports and doesn't have the real knowledge that sitting members of Congress have.
To boost employment, Fleitman would work to change what he called a "toxic" economic atmosphere encouraged by the federal government.
He said many corporations are "sitting on piles of cash" and are reluctant to invest in expansion. As a small business owner, he said he wouldn't expand at this time.
He would reduce payroll taxes, reduce the corporate tax rate and support a moratorium on any new taxes until the unemployment figures dips to 5 percent.
Speaking of differences between himself and Wesley, Fleitman said he is bringing a different skill set for voters to consider. He has lived in Massachusetts longer than Wesley and has run successfully for School Committee in Northampton. He also was the chair of the Northampton Board of health until he made the decision to run for Congress.
He also believes that to beat Neal, he has to win in the largest communities in the district -- Springfield, Chicopee, Northampton -- and a candidate from Western Massachusetts knows the area better.
On Aug. 11, he was in Chicopee campaigning and said he was planning to spend the day asking for support in Agawam.
To learn more about his candidacy, go to www.jayfleitman.com