By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Recent polls have indicated that many people across the country no longer trust their government. Rob Wasinger (R) wants to work to help restore that trust.
One of eight candidates running to fill the Big First District seat being vacated by current Congressman Jerry Moran, who is running for the U.S. Senate, Wasinger said that work begins with the nation’s health care system.
Under a recent bill passed by Congress, the federal government would target a single-payer health insurance system, and Wasinger said lawmakers want to create a system which allows the government to provide health care for everyone.
“I think the problem with that is it takes on a path to a European style socialized democracy, which is what I really have a problem with,” he said. “I don’t think the government should be in the business of taking over private industry, and yet, what you see from Obama is taking over automobile companies, taking over banks and now with this latest over, trying to take over our health care system. That’s not who we are as a country.”
Wasinger said in a visit to Liberal Thursday, Americans, as a whole, believe in free markets and individual choice.
“I’m the type of Republican that believes we need to build the roads, defend the homeland and get out of our lives,” he said. “Those are things actually in the Constitution – interstate commerce and the defense of the country.”
Wasinger said a good first step for the nation would be to get back to basics and focus on the core responsibilities of the federal government.
“Are there problems with the current health care system? Yes,” he said. “There’s ways to address the costs by tort reform and competition across state lines, medical savings accounts, and also I think once you get into the health care debate, you have to do something to address the needs of critical access hospitals, telemedicine, some of the burdens our community pharmacists endure just trying to get reimbursed for drugs they dispense or Medicare.”
Wasinger said there are a lot of reforms that are needed to get the cost of health care under control, and this is where legislators need to focus.
“Instead, Obama and his allies are focusing on socialized medicine – an idealogical goal that is not at all what the American people want,” he said.
Wasinger has served in several capacities, most recently as chief of staff for U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, and he has worked closely with Jack Taylor, director of the Southwest Passage Initiative for Regional Interstate Transportation, on getting a four-lane highway in Southwest Kansas. Wasinger said getting such a road is critical to the area.
“I believe the government should build roads and defend the homeland, so I’m a big supporter of transportation and transportation projects,” he said. “I think that’s key economic growth.”
Wasinger referred to himself as the jobs candidate in the race for the Big First seat, and he said part of getting jobs is getting people and equipment from place to place.
“As people look at wind farms and other sources of energy, we need to be able to move those parts up and down the road,” he said.
In recent years, illegal immigration has become an issue nationwide, and Wasinger said the first things to be done to solve the problem is to secure U.S. borders.
“There’s about 2,000 miles of border,” he said. “I think we could expand and put an agent every 25 to 50 miles. That would be 80 to 100 agents.”
Wasinger said things could be done with technology, such as thermal imaging, photography, motion detectors and sensors to detect illegal crossings.
“Let’s go get them the second they cross illegally and send them back. I think we need to send a message we’re going to be serious about border security,” he said. “The message we have been sending for years is that it’s OK to cross illegally because we have been so lax on enforcement.”
Wasinger believes getting serious about enforcement is important, but comprehensive reform to normalize the process would make it easier for people to immigrate.
“It’s important because we are a nation of immigrants, and we rely a lot on immigrants in the agriculture sector in particular,” he said. “I support the ag jobs bill which would extend the seasonal visas that are allowing people to handle agriculture jobs. I think that’s important reform that will help our economy too.”
The No Child Left Behind mandate is up for reauthorization this year, and Wasinger said he is opposed to the law.
“It has a great sounding name,” he said. “It has laudable goals, but the fact of the matter is the goals are set for urban standards, not rural standards. Schools in Liberal suffer under things like the No Child Left Behind. It has onerous regulations that don’t reflect reality at all.”
Wasinger also said the Department of Education has not had a good impact on education in the country.
“I think those decisions on education need to be left with local and state government,” he said.
As the son of a dairy truck driver, Wasinger believes Congress needs to get the nation’s Farm Bill under control.
“Over the past several years, there’s been more of an urban representation in Congress and less of a rural representation,” he said. “The last Farm Bill was a disaster in that regard. Urban interests used the Farm Bill. The commodity title of the Farm Bill is a bank account to fund their nutrition programs.”
Wasinger feels this is an outrage, and the first thing that needs to be done is to get nutrition programs in check. He also believes taking care of farmers is vital.
“You see the assault that was set in place by that Farm Bill is continued – the EPA that wants to regulate dust,” he said. “They’ve got their cap and trade ideas. All of these things would have a very harmful effect on agriculture, so getting the EPA under control is important.”
In addition to getting the Farm Bill under control, Wasinger said being a real voice for agriculture in Washington is important.
Above all else, Wasinger feels restoring trust in government starts with having term limits for legislators, and he supports a constitutional amendment to do so. He also believes lawmakers need to do a better job of talking to voters and constituents more often.
“I’m the only candidate to have toured all 69 counties twice,” he said of the Big First District. “I’ve knocked on more than 12,000 doors. That’s the type of campaign I’m running. That’s the type of Congressman I’ll be – talking to voters to just understand what the real issues and concerns are so that we can adequately address them.”
Wasinger said while public service is still a noble calling, the country needs to be represented by good people and not corrupt career politicians.
“I think restoring that trust is going to be vital to our government moving forward,” he said. “I think everybody needs to work together to make sure we can restore that trust.”