Issues

Democracy

The republic upon which our democratic principles has been founded is being corrupted by access to excessive amounts of money, and the power that this money can purchase. We need to find ways to “limit” the influence “outside” monies can have in influencing elections, and in allowing special interests to have their agenda take precedence over that of the constituents our elected leaders are supposed to represent.

I would first encourage my constituents to write all of their elected leaders to request that the Supreme Court “Citizen’s United” decision be overturned. Allowing Corporations to contribute unaccounted for monies without limit to campaigns is a recipe for corruption and division in our nation.

I would also like to see the following instituted, and I will work for these proposals within our legislative system of governance:

  • Make the Representative to Congress Term 4 years each term (instead of 2 year terms), limited to three elected terms. Limit Senate service to two elected terms
  • Limit the time one can campaign and/or raise money for elected Federal office to 6 months prior to a primary election date.
  • Limit the amounts of monies that can be spent between a primary and a general election to a specific figure (to be determined by Congress)
  • Improve people’s rights to privacy by strengthening laws that would protect private citizens from corporations, persons, or nation states from accessing and using/weaponizing their personal information gathered from their social media websites.

 

Healthcare

The reason our present healthcare system is not being reformed is not due to a lack of need, but rather due to an unwillingness to take on the special interests that are profiting from the current system.

The two main failures of our current Healthcare System are that it is far too expensive, and it does not “incentivize” preventive services that would encourage early intervention to help to minimize pain and suffering. (This would contain costs while improving long term health outcomes as a result of early treatment and intervention.)

The cost of Health Insurance continues to escalate year after year without check upon the rates that are being asked of the individuals and businesses that purchase medical insurance products. In my opinion, to allow a third party medical insurance industry to profit on the misfortunes of the medically compromised individuals of our society is unethical and should be outlawed.

The current system has promoted a situation whereby no one – and I mean no one – actually “knows” what the cost of a hospital-based, health service is or will be for any procedure performed anywhere in a hospital in America. The price differs based upon:

  • Who you are
  • Where you are, geographically
  • Whether you have any health insurance to help pay for the service
  • Who provides you these benefits (yourself, AARP, CHIP, Private Medical Insurance, in-network vs out of network, etc.)
  • How you pay for the service (Cash, check, credit card, care credit, etc.)
  • Who performs the service (Dr, Physician’s Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, etc.), and
  • Where the service is performed (Hospital, SurgiCenter, Private medical office, etc.).

The high cost of medical insurance premiums that are needed to feed the insurance beast, and the high deductibles put in place to force you to pay before you receive any insurance “benefit” coverage, has resulted in a system whereby you are given a “disincentive” to seek treatment, because you must come up with out of pocket monies prior to receiving diagnosis and treatment.

This results in higher costs for overall care, since now situations which could have been intervened upon and treated in such a manner that there would have been far less pain and suffering of the individual, and at a much-reduced total cost.

My solution would be to create a “publicly funded but privately managed” healthcare system (Single Payer Healthcare). This is not a “Socialized Medicine” system, for the government would not own the healthcare delivery systems, nor the providers who render care. Hospitals and other providers would continue to compete in the private marketplace, almost as they do now, but without the “in network vs out of network” gaming of the system.

The government would negotiate with the stakeholders in the healthcare industry to determine the range of fees that would be allowed for any service anywhere in US Territory, as well as the price of any medication purchased in America.

The benefits of this type of change to our system are many:

  • Lowers the cost of property taxes (less benefit costs to teacher and school worker salaries)
  • Makes our Global Businesses more competitive (no longer incur the burden/cost of employee healthcare expenses)
  • Lowers the price of a new Automobile made in America (Presently, 18% of a new auto made in the USA are due to Healthcare costs to the manufacturer)
  • Eliminates “Job Lock”, meaning, you can relocate to another state, and take a new job, and not have to worry about losing coverage due to a pre-existing condition, etc.
  • We will have a “Healthier” Society, due to incentivizing preventive routine examinations, leading to early treatment and less cost to the individual and our system. This means better attendance at school and work, leading to greater productivity from our workforce.
  • This “Medicare for All” System will mean no more bankruptcy due to medical illness, and no more worry or stress as to whether or not anyone in the family can afford their healthcare.

We presently pay 60% of our Health costs in America to the government with our existing taxes. By reducing the price of treatment from within the system, and by eliminating the 20-30 % of health premium dollars that are being taken out of the system by the medical insurance industry for administration, salary, profit, and real estate costs, the minimal earned income tax monies that will be placed upon all people and businesses working on American soil will be far less that what we are paying at present.

The focus of any “healthcare visit” can now be on “wellness”, or what one can do to become healthier and heal, rather than worrying about how one is going to afford and pay for treatment.

ALL Americans will receive treatment equally, regardless of economic or social class.

It will end the special healthcare benefits that our elected officials have created for themselves.

Abortion

This is a very sensitive question, and requires a very thoughtful and delicate response. So I will choose to respond as follows:

I support a woman’s right “Not to have any government tell her what she can and/or cannot do with her own body”!

I am a doctor, and I will work in support of life, and I mean all life on our planet, and also in support of all of the laws that govern American society. The 1972 Supreme Court decision on Roe vs Wade is law in America, and I would work to uphold the law, although this is above my pay grade, for this is a matter for the Supreme Court to determine.

Regarding the question of abortion, we must work in every way possible to educate all populations to prevent a person from being placed in a situation of having an unwanted pregnancy. Education is the key to preventing bad choices in life, and this situation is no exception. Thus I would support any and all institutions that work to provide such an education to our people.

 

Immigration

In all my actions as a Representative to Congress, I would hope that the overriding principle guiding me would be to emphasize humane responses to all situations pertaining to inhabitants of our planet.

Thus, I regard the situation whereby a child that has been brought into the United States illegally, and has subsequently grown up in this country, has not been involved with criminal activities, and is a contributing (ie. employed member of the workforce, full or part time student, etc.) member to society, then I would regard it as inappropriate to deport such an individual to a country that they have never known.

I would support a pathway to citizenship for such an individual, and I would not support any actions that would threaten removing individuals who fall into these “Dreamer” or TPS categories from the United States.

I am not privy to the many circumstances that may drive people to seek to live in the US, either legally or illegally, so I will not “judge” circumstances that have led the US to have 10 million undocumented inhabitants, but rather I would support someway to give these inhabitants “legal status” to remain in the US, provided they are contributing members to our society, and are not involved in criminal activities or have a history of violent behavior.

I would also support intelligent and creative ways of strengthening our border security, and mechanisms for following up on expiring visitor visas, such that we prevent such situations from reoccurring in our country in our future.

The agriculture sector of our 9th District needs an immigrant workforce to help with the work on our farms and in our vineyards and orchards.

I am not in favor of a “merit” based admissions immigration system, and would support legislation that would make it easier for businesses to “keep” good non-citizen immigrant workers employed and on the job legally, until they are able to achieve US Citizenship.

 

Gun Violence

We have a “violence” problem in America, with violence perpetrated by individuals using guns as a serious symptom of this broader issue.

I want to make it completely clear that I support a “50 State” law that would require a mandatory 3 day waiting period and background check on all individuals seeking to purchase any firearm from any venue in any state or territory of this nation.

I believe we need to revisit the existing laws that we have enacted to deal with this issue, such that we can correct any flaws in this existing legislation that will allow these laws to function more efficiently and as intended.

The “NixFix” correction that was just passed in the Omnibus Budget Law was needed to facilitate proper reporting to the database that is to function to screen out persons who have a history of violence, or of mental illness, that would disallow them from making a firearm purchase. We need to assure that the platform to which all this data is being placed is functional across all the reporting entities necessary to give an accurate assessment of the potential firearm purchaser’s history with law enforcement and/or our military. This does not exist today, and we need to make this correction happen in all 50 states to assure proper communication on this issue among all law enforcement entities.

I would also support a 50 State solution that would enact “Red Flag Legislation”, as currently exists in several states in our nation, that would allow a mechanism for loved ones or persons in positions of authority or medical oversight to give law enforcement, with proper due process, the ability to “confiscate” firearms from any individual deemed a risk to themselves or to others, until such a time that this individual is deemed to no longer be a threat to society or to themselves.

The above two initiatives have overwhelming support among a majority of all Americans, and should be enacted immediately without delay.

Other areas of concern to many people in America are the question of military style weapons in the hands of the private sector, and large clip sizes and conversion methods to make existing weapons “automatic” in their firing function.

I would support the reduction in all “clips” for any weapon to be restricted to 10 rounds maximum in any clip. This would provide time for persons in such situations to get away and/or intervene if they encounter a situation where a perpetrator of gun violence would have to stop to reload his or her weapon.

With military “assault” style weapons, the concern with these guns is that the ammunition or rounds are designed to be so destructive to humans. We therefore have to have a serious conversation with all gun enthusiasts as to whether having the availability of such weapons in the private marketplace is something that is necessary, or would the greater good of our society be better served by taking these weapons out of private citizen hands.

Given the carnage and death caused by these types of weapons in recent attacks, the momentum of this question appears to be moving away from allowing the manufacture and sale of these weapons to private persons (ie. recent legislative changes to gun law in Florida).

As a farmer, I am a gun owner and gun user. I recognize the right and the need of many of my constituents to have rifles and guns on their land to defend their crops and livestock. In light of this reality, I consider my above views to be based on reason and not in conflict with the principles of common sense or our Second Amendment.

I do not support the arming of teachers with lethal weaponry in our schools. We do, however, have to enact safe school legislation that will require a range of proper screening facilities for all persons entering a school area, as deemed appropriate by their local governing school boards.

I oppose the manufacturing and sale of “bump stocks”, and I am against the ability to purchase a “build your own weapon” kit through the mail.

I would support legislation that will require a “permitting” period for all “first time firearm purchasers”, such that any such individual, just as we do with the operation of automobiles or airplanes, must submit to a process of education and medical evaluation, so as to learn how to properly use, store, clean, and sell/dispose of any firearm that they may wish to own. I am not the first to suggest such legislation, but I believe it is time that we consider the benefits of having such an education before you become the owner of a firearm with the potential to cause such harm to yourself or others.

 

Environment

When it comes to our environment, I believe there is no doubt that science has shown that man can seriously influence, and is influencing, the quality and viability of our earth’s waters, soil, and atmosphere.

As such, I would take a seriously “less moderate” approach on legislating to incentivize the behavior of our constituents that would lead to more positive atmospheric and environmental conditions.

I would support America “rejoining” the Paris Climate accords, and work to “incentivize” the creation of new 21st Century energy sector jobs in the development of Solar Panels, Wind turbines, etc.

I view the advantage of such an approach to the fact that these energy sources (the sun and the wind) cannot be monopolized by any owners, compared to the way mineral rights owned by our fossil fuel industry are currently controlled.

Regarding the extraction of fossil fuels, again, as a doctor, I am trained to look to the source of a problem, and not to treat only the symptom. Carbon emission from fossil fuels is a problem for sustaining life on earth, and we must take prudent yet dramatic steps in the direction of science-based energy development to address this reality.

Thus, due to the toxic and carcinogenic nature of the chemicals presently used in the Pennsylvania “Fracking” industry to extract natural gas from our Marcellus Shale substrata layer, I would err on the side of “science” by limiting or outlawing this process until such a time that it can be demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that this process will not place neighbors, livestock, wildlife, and our water supply in jeopardy of any negative health consequences.

It is a quite elementary question to me, that “if you would not want to live next to or drink the water from or work at any such facility where fracking is occurring, then why would you want anyone else to have to be subjected to this risk?”

Last, the rural communities and farms of the 9th District have the ability to be used for renewable energy sources, by tapping in to these open spaces for solar panel grids and wind turbine placement through federal incentive programs. The monies gained from energy production on our farms and transported to our urban sectors could be used to help subsidize the incomes of our farm communities that are presently suffering from the low market prices of the products they are producing.

 

Priorities

As a child, I was blessed with the ability to spend most of my youth outdoors. Today I witness that most of what I knew as “wildlife” in Pennsylvania has changed, unfortunately toward the negative.

I see the role of government as being necessary to protect the environment from unscrupulous business practices that, although in many cases they may not be intentional, they do not take into consideration the necessary protections of the environment that they are interacting with.

Thus, I would uphold most heavily a regard for a clean environment. Remember, doing business development without regard to environmental concerns may save money for a certain business and its shareholders in the short run, but what history has taught us is that, in the long run, the negative environmental consequences of allowing industry to behave unchecked with regard to environmental consequences of their disruption to the planet always costs the next generation more (for a less desirable outcome) than it would have cost the company and society in the present day to do it correctly the first time around.

We can grow an economy based upon sound scientific principles, without bankrupting our nation’s future by compromising our planet, when we know and have the technology to prevent such situations from developing. (Historic example of the coal communities in Schuylkill and Carbon Counties, and the clean-up in the 20th century that was required to rectify environmental consequences of the coal industry actions.)

I would also advocate strongly for “transportation oriented development”, which should exist to incentivize where growth is occurring in our neighborhoods and cities, and disincentivize the development of our open spaces that has led to sprawl and an increase in residential communities, requiring the allocation of additional monies for infrastructure development, and the unintended consequences of raising the temperatures and negative contents of our small streams due to stormwater and other rainwater runoff into these streams.

Finally, we need to honor the efforts made to create National Park spaces, and not allow these areas to be compromised in search of mineral exploration, particularly when other clean energy sources could be ramped up and uses to sustain our energy grid, without compromising the environment in the process.

 

Economic Fairness

I believe that fixing the broken American existing “healthcare system” will go a long way toward repairing much of what is “unfair” with the existing American economic system.

Let me explain.

American businesses that must fund healthcare for their employees are in an inherent competitive disadvantage with the competition from other countries in a global economy.

In many states, the property taxes used to fund public schools are so high because of the spiraling inflationary costs of having to fund healthcare for all school employees, that it is forcing people out of their homes.

Allowing a for profit 3rd party “medical insurance” industry to “profit” from the misfortune of those who suffer health-related pre-existing conditions, or consequences from work-related, automobile or any other accident, is not a “fair” enterprise.

Life is not fair, agreed, but we as a society can do better to protect those who are less fortunate among us. When some of the richest persons in the world today own and operate an American corporation whose full-time employees are not paid a “living wage”, and the rest of the American workforce must “subsidize” this business’s employees and their families by paying from their tax dollars for the “Medicaid” program that fund the healthcare expenses of this underpaid work force and their family members, then something is seriously out of balance with our system of law in America.

I would support a “Medicare for All” style publicly funded but privately administered Single Payer (not a socialized medicine) model for a “new” Healthcare System in America. This would eliminate the “for Profit Medical Insurance” industry, it would reduce property taxes by making the costs of healthcare less onerous, less expensive and more predictable on a year to year basis, and American business could compete globally on a more level playing field.

Recognizing that the cost of living is not uniform throughout our nation, I would support the development of a raise in the minimum wage for full-time employment in America, dependent upon the geographic location and cost of living indicators for each of these regions. Annual cost of living increases should also be built in to any minimum wage model. (In Pennsylvania, I would agree with our Governor and would work to bring this Minimum wage law up to $12.00 per hour over a period of several years, and possibly more for full-time employees, particularly if Healthcare Reform to a Medicare for All system is enacted.)

 

Criminal Justice

We need to have a serious American dialogue regarding the state of our criminal justice system, why we incarcerate more people than the rest of the nations of the free world combined, and why persons of color so outnumber the other inhabitants of our prison system.

I have always been, and will continue to be, an advocate for the legalization of marijuana for use above 21 years of age. We need to eliminate the profit incentive from the prohibited substance, which is driving so many individuals into this negative lifestyle. This will lead to less people of color being arrested, leading to less disruption in their families and neighborhoods.

Good paying jobs from the research and development of medical uses for extractions from this plant could be beneficial to society, and the tax revenue from another agricultural product could be used to strengthen and enhance education in America.

By restricting legal use to age 21, the tendency of some to consume to their detriment the use of this substance before the maturation of their brain would be reduced.

Another potential positive effect of this legislation could be a reduction in the number and power of Latin American drug cartels, who would lose their cash cow in this commodity, reducing violence in these communities, and placing less pressure upon the law-abiding citizens who live there to have to escape and migrate to safer areas.

Last, I am not an advocate, and I do not support the concept of “privatization” of our Prison systems. Private businesses operate on a model of “for profit”, meaning in this case an incentive to see our prisons “full” rather than incentivizing educating the inhabitants to learn a pathway to reintegrate into society in a more healthful and beneficial manner.

 

Why we need Dr. Gary Wegman in Congress.

I’m running for Congress in the new ninth congressional district because I believe we can’t afford politics as usual — the politics that have led to absolute gridlock and bad ideas in Washington, D.C. We all know these ideas have ignored and left behind the people in our region while politicians and special interests have prospered.

The system needs to be fixed, and not in the way that Washington has approached the problem. For over 34 years, I’ve worked to create jobs, balance a business budget and build businesses — both as a fifth generation farmer, and at my medical practice.

We must reject politics as usual. We must demand something better than more of the same in the 9th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. I’m ready to fight for our communities and for our future, and ask for your support on May 15th.