News you can use

Williams stumps for Congress in Havre

Democratic U.S. House candidate Kathleen Williams said her 35 years of experience, working in a variety of committees, nonprofits, the Montana Legislature and other positions, gives her a unique perspective and highly qualifies her for the seat.

"I just felt like I had a unique background for someone with a 'D' after their name and I really needed to offer that up to the state," Williams said.

Williams was at the Havre regional Democrat Headquarters Tuesday while on her campaign trail across Montana.

Williams is challenging U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., in this year's general election.

Gianforte won a special election held last year to fill the spot vacated when Ryan Zinke accepted the position of U.S. secretary of the interior.

Health care

Williams said some of the biggest issues facing Montana and the nation are regarding health care, which has been a major issue for her during her campaign. Many of the people she has met while campaigning have voiced their concern with the health care system, she added.

Williams said the Affordable Care Act started some good things, but it needs to be stabilized due to recent efforts to unravel it. One of the main issues Williams said she saw in the Legislature is that Congress is not following through with the law's efforts to achieve affordable health care.

"The commitments Congress made to help those payments to be more affordable," she said, "Congress is not coming through on those."

She added that people who are in power are trying to unravel the law without offering any kind of replacement for it.

Williams said there is concern that protections for pre-existing conditions will be removed, which was one of the more popular elements in the law.

She said that people need to start talking about a better system overall.

"My opinion is we need to stabilize it, but we then also need to talk about a better system over all," Williams said.

Rather than getting caught up in funding for the Affordable Care Act, Williams said, the government should be improving the delivery system.

That could be done by creating incentives for providers to deliver better health care rather than focusing on tests to determine their care.

She added that one of the main issues is that health care cannot be a cohesive whole while the costs, even with insurance, is still generally unaffordable.

"All the pieces need to work together," Williams said, adding that the system needs a foundation to start national discussions on building a better system.

Williams said that, in the future, she wants a policy that will allow people 55 and older to buy into Medicare. She said that policy would require no additional taxes and with the younger, healthier age group added to Medicare it will reduce costs on the whole.

She added that Medicare should also be able to bargain for drug costs in the same way that the other programs can.

"Health care issues are so relevant to so many, with so many layers to whether there is opportunity or not for people," Williams said.

Tariffs and tax reform

She said that with her long history of working with the agricultural community she believes that the tariffs were a bad idea and has spoken to many farmers and ranchers about how they have already begun to lose their share of markets overseas.

The uncertainty with NAFTA and recent tariffs imposed on and by other countries are causing the market to become unstable, Williams said, and the nation's markets need stability and predictability in order to be profitable.

She added that she was at a grain lab in Great Falls a few months ago and was already hearing about the state losing market shares to Australia and Brazil. She said she even was told that Mexico is discussing buying barley from Germany rather than the United States.

"The tariffs are yet another threat to an industry that has been struggling to maintain a lot of the things we've worked for," Williams said.

She added that many agricultural producers build these markets and work hard at maintaining them. These markets, she said, are not easily brought back.

"Once you lose market shares it's really hard to get it back," Williams said. "I'm really concerned and I just don't feel like we needed to get to this place."

Williams said the tax reform that passed was another item that was rushed and unneeded, adding that the reform was not what it appeared to be.

"Tax reform is not the correct term for it," Williams said. "I've been calling it a revenue giveaway."

She said giving Montanans a little more in their pockets is perfectly fine, but the reform gave the wealthy a massive tax break. She added that the reform labels the middle class as incomes that are $400,000 and under, which she said is not a correct estimate of the middle class.

There has been talk of strategic ways of bringing industries back to the country, Williams said, but the tax reform was not strategic.

She said the reform did not have any hearings and that mistakes were made. It also raised the deficit by $1.8 trillion, she added.

The economy was already improving and the stock market was already going up, so there was no need for extreme stimulus to be added, Williams said.

She said that during her work on the state House Finance Committee, the first rule was to be revenue neutral. The federal reform aggravated the deficit at a time when the country had the opportunity to allow the deficit to level off, she said.

"That was unwise," Williams added.

Wilderness Study Areas

Williams said she opposes proposals now in Congress to remove wilderness study area-designation from about 800,000 acres in Montana.

Her objection to the proposal is the method, she added. She said her experience is that bringing diverse interests and natural resources together to discuss proposals is the wisest decision.

The proposal is incomplete, she said, because the bill doesn't look at many wilderness study areas in Montana.

She added that Congress shouldn't do something halfway because it's easier - if they are going to address the problem, they should address the full picture.

"Don't just do what is easy," Williams said.

She said that her experience and background throughout her life, such as in the Legislature and on various boards, committees and groups, gives her a great outlook on this bill and she believes more study needs to go into finding out what the communities near the study areas think is best for these lands.

She added that two wilderness study areas in Lewis and Clark National Forest are in a revision process right now, with members of the public working in good faith to help the Forest Service with its recommendation to Congress.

Williams said what is going on in Congress at the moment is a "slap in the face" to people who are working in these study areas.

"Releasing a collection of 800,000 acres of protected land from a office in Washington with a stroke of a pen is not the way to make complex natural resource decisions," Williams said.


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 06/12/2024 17:05