America is in a terrible mess and Chris Collins thinks he's just the man to go to Washington and try to help fix it.
He wants to put people to work, correct the trade imbalance with China and see the United States become energy independent.
"The country is at a tipping point," Collins said. "I think we’re headed in the wrong direction. Simply stated, I want to do my part to help restore the promise of the American Dream for our children and grandchildren."
Collins, who served as Erie County executive from 2008 to 2011, is being challenged in Tuesday's GOP primary for the NY-27 congressional district against David Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran and Batavia resident.
The self-made millionaire is also on the Conservative line for November's general election and limits most discussion about the race to incumbent Kathy Hochul and President Barack Obama.
Collin's vows to run the race through November, even if he loses the GOP primary.
For Collins, the main issues in the race are jobs, less spending in Washington, energy indepdence and repealing Obamacare.
On jobs, Collins says small business owners have lost confidence in the American government and until confidence is restored, they won't invest in research and development, expansion or making capital improvements.
"A lack of confidence is the wet blanket today on job creation," Collins said.
To restore confidence, Washington needs to stop spending so much money.
"We need to send the message that we will balance the budget in the next 10 years," Collins said. "I think 10 years is something we have to insist on. The idea that we can wait 30 or 40 years is complete nonsense."
On taxes, Collins said the corporate tax rate is too high. He wants it reduced to 25 percent.
"It’s currently 35," Collins said. "We certainly can’t increase it, as Obama and Hochul want to do. We have to cut the tax rate to be the same as it is around the world. We are the highest-taxed nation in the world and we wonder why jobs are going overseas? We are disincentivizing them from investing in the United States."
What Collins wants to see is a "fairer flatter" tax, with fewer deductions and no more than 25 percent on any individual or business.
On trade, Collions wants the U.S. to stand up to China.
"The key words there are China cheats," Collins said. "They cheat by manipulating their currency, which gives them, I believe, a 30-percent cost advantage over the American manufacturer. They steal our intellectual property. And they don’t open their own markets to our manufacturers."
The response, Collins said, is tarriffs until China capitulates and trades as an equal partner with the U.S.
"I believe China needs us more than we need them," Collins said. "They need our consumers. Quite frankly, we don’t need them."
When it comes to trading with other countries, however, Collins is open to any trade that is fair and free.
"We do live in a world economy and we can’t erect barriers and say the United States is not going trade with the rest of the world," Collins said. "That’s just nonsense. We can not only compete, we can win."
On energy, Collins said the U.S. needs to stop relying on the Middle East for its oil.
"We drill more off shore," Collins said. "We drill more on federal lands. We use safe nuclear. We go after our shale gas. We can be energy independent in 10 years."
On foreign affairs, Collins said except in dealing directly with Al-Qaeda, he doesn't believe the U.S. should go it alone. While during the trade discussion, Collins said he was against interfering in another country's affairs, when it comes to military intervention, he said the U.S. should only participate if it's part of an organization such as NATO.
"When it comes to us being the world’s policeman, the world’s this, the world’s that, guess what -- our cupboards are bare," Collins said. "If the civilized world has a problem with Syria, if we have a problem with other countries, then that should be a joint effort, it should not be the U.S. going alone."
Asked whether the military budget should be trimmed, Collins said, it's up to the generals.
"It’s not my call," Collins said. "I would say you look to your military commanders, you say what is our mission and you look to the experts on how to achieve that mission in in the most cost-effective way, making sure they’ve got the tools they need to accomplish their mission.
"Whereas our current president has tried to micromanage the military. He’s replaced commanders in Afghanistan because they don’t agree with his policies. I think you need to look to your experts."
Clearly, Collins dislikes Obamacare.
He said Obama wants to cut $500 billion from Medicare, which, he said, would decimate Medicare Advantage.
Also, he said, Obama would trim $350 million from reimbursements to doctors, which Collins believes will encourage doctors to stop seeing Medicare patients.
"They don’t have to take Medicare patients. So in the supply-and-demand world, if you’re busy what do you do? You usually elminate your least profitable customer," Collins said. "So the thought that the federal government can set the reimbursement rates for doctors and cut 30 percent out their income and nothing’s going to change is just nonsense. Right there and then you’ve got to get rid of Obamacare."
The healthcare reforms Collins said he would push would be tort reform and open up competition in insurance by allowing policies across state lines.
Collins also argued that modern healthcare is expensive for a reason.
"People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things," Collins said. "The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better, we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators -- they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases."
On Medicaid, Collins said he favors block-granting enough federal Medicaid funds to ensure poor people have basic medical care, but beyond that, it's a state issue and each state should decide what kind of Medicaid program it wants.
The problem in New York, with the state taking a bigger and bigger share of local tax dollars to support Medicaid, is a New Tork state problem, not a federal problem, Collins said.
New York, Collins said, spends three times more on Medicaid than California and Texas combined, which together have 60 million residents compared to New York's 19 million.
Previously, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told The Batavian that the high cost of Medicaid for counties in New York was the fault of the federal government, but, Collins said, New York offers Medicaid patients every conceivable option for care, which significantly drives up the cost.
"I’m not surprised Albany would try to blame it on Washington," Collins said. "The blame belongs right where it is, in Albany."
One of his big objections to Obamacare, Collins said, is that he doesn't think the government should dictate how people live their lives.
"The thought that government should be making decisions for us is against every grain in my body," Collins said.
Asked, then, "Are you a libertarian?"
Collins said, "I have a libertarian bent, yes."
Asked, then, if he favored legalizing marijuana, Collins said, no.
"I just don’t think we should legalize drugs," Collns said.
Well, that's not letting people make decisions for themselves.
"On that piece, I suppose," Collins said. "We have to outlaw murder, too.
"The government's role is to create laws," Collins added. "If I believe in a smaller limited government, that doesn’t mean I believe in a lawless state. Government does have a role to play in passing laws."
Collins had also previously said he believes in state's rights, so we asked him if the federal government should interfer in a state like California, which has legalized medical marijuana.
"Whether it's seat belt or motorcycle helmet laws, I do believe in what the Constitution would say on the importance of states rights. The people who live in that state should be able to decide what laws they want. The federal government has over stepped its bounds over and over again relative to state rights."
PHOTO: Submitted by the Collins campaign.