SEABROOK – Steny Hoyer has been in government for almost 50 years. This election, two challengers are hoping to take his seat. Hoyer, 77, has represented Maryland’s 5th District since 1981; he was in the General Assembly prior to that. He currently serves as the House Minority Whip and a member of the Democratic party […]
SEABROOK – Steny Hoyer has been in government for almost 50 years. This election, two challengers are hoping to take his seat.
Hoyer, 77, has represented Maryland’s 5th District since 1981; he was in the General Assembly prior to that. He currently serves as the House Minority Whip and a member of the Democratic party leadership. And Hoyer believes his long record of accomplishments demonstrates why voters should re-elect him.
“I hope people will vote for me because they conclude I represent them well,” he said. “Not because I believe that they agree with everything I do, but because they believe I do what I do for their benefit.”
Hoyer’s accomplishments include getting a larger federal presence in the county through NASA Goddard, the IRS, the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and 8,000 more acres of the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge.
However, his two challengers think it’s time for some new perspectives in Congress.
Mark Arness, 52, is the Republican nominee and a medical doctor. He said the policies of those currently in office, especially tax policy and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare), have made things worse for the country.
“For 2017, (healthcare) prices in Maryland are going to increase at least 25 percent. Some of them will even double or triple,” Arness said. “The Affordable Care Act is not affordable. It’s a national disaster.”
Arness would replace ACA, which leaves intact the individual healthcare markets in each state, with a national market that is the same in every state and therefore portable across state lines.
Hoyer, by contrast, said he is “a big supporter” of the ACA.
“I think it’s made a real difference,” Hoyer said.
The third candidate in the race is libertarian Jason Summers, a lifelong Marylander with a degree in mathematics from St. Mary’s College. Summers said his main priority if elected would be to end the U.S.’s intervention in the Middle East. He also believes that citizens’ tax burdens are too high.
“Eventually, I would like to get rid of income tax altogether, or reduce it to the absolute minimum possible to fund essential government services,” Summers said. “I would start cuts at the lowest bracket, so the people who need money the most get their tax cut first.”
Arness also believes taxes are too high, and said simplifying the code is the way to solve the problem. He would institute a nation-wide sales tax to replace federal income tax, and provide options for low-income individuals to apply to get a waiver from paying the sales tax.
Arness said he would propose defunding the IRS, which he views as corrupt.
“It costs $1 billion in tax dollars for the IRS to collect the tax dollars,” Arness said. “If we have to pay taxes, I want it to go to highways, schools and infrastructure, not people’s private yachts, which is what is happening.”
One thing that Summers and Hoyer have in common is a focus on growing business. Summers said he hopes to make it easier for people to start new businesses and to foster more private charities and nonprofits to take over some government functions. He would streamline the process for setting up a nonprofit, Summers said.
Hoyer has been working on a Make It In America initiative that hopes to increase domestic manufacturing, which he says will create good-paying jobs and leverage other economic growth.
“When I travel across the country, I always visit a manufacturing facility and speak with the owners to find out, what can we do in government that can make your enterprise more successful?” Hoyer said.
With the presidential race one of the most contentious and divisive in history, all the District 5 candidates said they’d be willing and able to work collaboratively with their colleagues in Congress, but Summers says his libertarian philosophy- which he says combines Republican fiscal conservativism with Democratic social tolerance- uniquely positions him to bridge the partisan divide.
“I have at least something that I can agree with on each of the other parties,” he said. “As the first libertarian, I would be forced to immediately form relationships with people to get things done.”