DUELING VETERANS CLASH ON HEALTHCARE, VETERANS ISSUES AND MORE

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By Jessica Richmond and Miriam Raftery

 

 

Duncan Hunter and James Kimber do battle for Reps and Dems; Libertarian Michael Benoit also in  race

 

June 1, 2014 (San  Diego)-- Congressman Duncan D. Hunter(R) will face off against two other opponents, Democrat James Kimber, a  Navy veteran and retired Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman/ current neurosurgery physician assistant, as well as Libertarian Michael Benoit,  a retired business owner.

Due to the California Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act, the top-two-vote-getters  in the California 50th Congressional District will then square-off  in an all-out battle in November.  This Tuesday’s Primary election represents the opportunity for voters to decide whether to back fiscal austerity on domestic programs and a big military budget with the Republican candidate, the  Libertarian candidate who aims to shrink government, or the Democrat, who wants to make healthcare, veterans’ issues and immigration reforms his top priorities.

The Issues

Healthcare

As a Physician Assistant, Kimber says he dedicated to supporting patients’ well-being and increasing the availability of affordable healthcare.  He says the Affordable Healthcare Act isn’t perfect, but invites anyone who believes that the ACA is a net negative to come to his clinic to meet patients who didn’t have healthcare until now. Ultimately he hopes to see a single-payer healthcare system, he has stated.

Congressman Hunter does not support the Affordable Care Act and has repeatedly voted to repeal it.  He lists his priorities for healthcare as “ensure access to quality affordable care, promote medical innovation and advancement, and eliminate regulations that stifle growth.”

Benoit believes it is not the government’s responsibility to provide medical care to citizens and would rather leave healthcare to the “private market place and charity.”

Immigration

Congressman Hunter has been a staunch supporter of “additional reinforced fencing” to secure and protect the Southern California-Mexico border from unauthorized entrance by immigrants, he has also co-sponsored legislation favorable to “E-Verify”- an electronic system that verifies if a potential employee is legally able to work in the United States.

Kimber supports “comprehensive immigration reform” and believes that the path to becoming a Permanent Legal Resident should be streamlined.

While Benoit satirically compares the U.S.-Mexico to the Berlin Wall,; he advises the U.S. to “stop supporting a corrupt Mexican government” and to “allow for more work visas.”

Hunter ired Middle Eastern immigrants locally last December, when he told 10 News, “In the Middle Eastern culture, it is looked upon with very high regard to get the best deal possible, no matter what it takes. That includes lying.”  Ben Kalasho, president of the San Diego –East County Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, said the remark was offensive to Hunter’s many Middle Eastern constituents. 

 

Jobs & the Economy

The incumbent Congressman Hunter keeps his strictly economic recovery ideals in-line with the  Republican lingo. He claims “we must streamline federal rulemaking procedures, reduce the tax and regulatory burden on businesses, provide certainty, allow businesses to thrive, expand and hire once again.”  

This view sounds quite similar to Benoit’s view that in order to “free up the energy of the creative American people” the government ought to stop trying to tax and spend their way out of this economic recession.

Kimber supports raising minimum wage and also offers the idea of bringing more jobs to San Diego by suggesting that we expand our market place for the aviation sector of Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAV) programs by easing restrictive FAA legislation and enticing more civilian manufacturing.

While neither Benoit nor Hunter provided any solid examples of how to help ease the economy forward, they both offer a quick-fix of deregulation legislation. Kimber has faulted Hunter for voting to shut down the government, hurting  the economy and working people, while Hunter sees reining in spending and reducing the deficit as crucial priorities.

Education

Benoit believes the federal government has “no business in the education of our children.”  Hunter services on the House Education Committee but oddly, does not list education among the issues discussed on his website.  Kimber is a supporter of a strong public educational system and affordable college education. 

Defense, military and veterans

Kimber, a 20-year-veteran, says veterans are being forgotten. “They’re not being taken care of when we’ve asked them to serve our country.”   He voices concern over more than 62,000 veterans who are homeless, a 10% unemployment rate among veterans, a high rate of suicide among veterans and long delays n processing claims.  He wants to implement an electronic health record system into the VA to end delays in treatments due to lost records 

Hunter, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, doesn’t address veteran’s issues on his website, but does call for maintain a strong national security policy that funds the military at “appropriate levels and doesn’t cut defense spending during wartime for the first time in American history.” He criticized President Barack Obama’s cuts to the military and says “Islamofascism must be defeated.” 

Benoit also doesn’t talk about veteran’s issues on his site, but has this to say about military intervention: “This is simple: we should stay out of the sovereign affairs and petty squabbles of other nations... Bring American troops home. We should never go to war without a declaration of war and only do so if we are defending our life, liberty and property. No wars of aggression."

Social issues

Here, voters have clear choices. Benoit wants to keep the government out of people’s bedrooms.  Kimber is also pro-choice.  Hunter introduced the most restrictive abortion measure in Congress, a measure that would have banned all abortions  with no exceptions even for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. 

Energy

Hunter views alternative energy as a way to “free ourselves from terrorist despots” though he has opposed Tule Wind locally due, largely, to fire dangers. But he also supports oil drilling, nuclear power and building more oil refineries. He has not supported actions to address climate change.  Kimber backs solar energy to address climate change, while Benoit does not address these issues on his current site but has in the past voiced support for hemp-based fuels.

 

Each of the three candidates offers a different flavor of the political pie. If you’re going for a party-line Republican, Congressman Hunter fits the bill. If you want to believe that “the federal government was set up to be our foreign government” and want the government out of affairs such as healthcare, education, taxes, the economy, and Social Security, then Michael Benoit is your American apple pie. If you want a civic-minded medical professional  and continuing on the Democratic party-line while working to also improve healthcare for military and veterans, while also supporting clean energy policies such as solar- as your representative, then Kimber is the choice.