David Bellavia wants to be your congressional representative because he has old-fashioned values -- honor, integrity and service.
He's a conservative Republican, but not the hardline hawk some might expect from a decorated Iraq War veteran whose book on his experiences is about to be made into a Hollywood movie.
In the GOP primary for the NY-27 congressional district, all he wants is a chance to debate his opponent, former Erie County Executive Chris Collins, because he thinks he can beat Collins on the issues.
"I want to be able to look him in the eye and say he’s not a true conservative," Bellavia said. "He can’t express these values. He doesn’t know these federal issues. And the only job he was probably most qualified for, he got voted out of office on."
Bellavia grew up in Orleans County and lives in Batavia with his wife and three children.
His top issues are jobs, agriculture, taxes and health care.
On jobs, he wants to reduce burdensome regulations, especially Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, which he said makes it harder for smaller companies to raise funding and go public.
"No medium-sized business can compete if you have to pay for all of these compliance tasks," Bellavia said.
He would also like to end inheritance tax (aka, legacy tax or death tax) because, he said, it forces families to sell businesses.
"What better way to build a community than to have a business in the family for generation after generation." Bellavia said.
He also believes multinational corporations that are keeping a large portion of their profits overseas in order to avoid taxes should be granted amnesty if they bring the billions and billions of dollars back to the United States and use it to fund research and development and create jobs.
On taxes, he considers the capital gains tax unconstitutional because it taxes a person's money twice (once as earned income, second as investment income), and the corporate tax rate should be lowered from 37 percent to 25 percent.
Taxpayers should be able to choose, he said, between paying a graduated tax with deductions -- much like our current system -- or a flat tax with no deductions.
The first $20,000 a person earns should be tax free, he said.
Related to taxes is the need to reduce spending.
"We've got to aggressively slash entitlements in this country," Bellavia said. "If we continue to use the same principles as Europe, we're gong to wind up like France, Italy, Cyprus or Greece, the list goes on."
Bellavia supports the Ryan Budget Plan, at least the part that would block-grant Medicaid to the states. He said federal education funds should be handled the same way.
"Why is federal government holding the strings on education?" Bellavia said. "Let teachers teach and give powers back to the communities to control their own destiny."
On agriculture, the first order of business is to fix the worker visa program so that dairy farmers, in particular, can hire and retain workers.
"People in the city think crops grow at waist level," Bellavia said. "Farm work is hard work and we need to help workers come here from other countries. They don't want to be citizens. They don't consider themselves workers. They think of themselves as professional farmers who want to make a living, do their jobs and take care of their families back home."
The Environmental Protection Agency, Bellavia said, is "out of control." The regulations it puts on dairy farmers add high overhead and makes it harder for dairies to grow to meet new demand.
On health care, Bellavia believes that the Supreme Court will find Obama's health plan -- the mandate for health insurance -- unconstitutional.
But, he said, there's an easy fix: competition. Allow health insurance to be sold across state lines, with people -- not employers -- choosing where they purchase insurance, and creating a system of community-based healthcare cooperatives.
He also said tort reform would help bring down healthcare costs.
On foreign policy, Bellavia fears the United States will be dealing with problems in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan for another generation or more.
"It breaks my heart," Bellavia said. "I don’t want my babies to have to experience anything like I went through."
Afghanistan, he acknowledged, is looking a lot like Vietnam, an endless drain on American resources.
The U.S. has no strategy in Afghanistan, he said, and while the news media tends to portray the enemy as the Taliban, the groups that engage the U.S. military are more diverse than that, from tribal war lords to drug runners.
"We're not there to die and sacrifice and look good for the world," Bellavia said. "The mission is not worth it if we can't defend our brothers and protect them and do what we need to to bring them home.
"Right now, these men and women do not have rules of engagement they can follow. All this administration does and all Congress does is say, 'Oh, we've dropped another bomb and killed X number of people.' "
On trade, Bellavia says, "China is our enemy," and believes China needs to be confronted over currency manipulation.
He also believes foreign goods that compete with U.S.-made goods should be taxed.
Every component needs to be made in the U.S., he said, in order to avoid extra fees.
"If every one of those boxes isn't checked, another and another VAT," Bellavia said. "You can't call it a tariff. That's a bad word. Call it a value added tax, add it on. I'd like to see a Hyundai Elantra become a $70,000 car."
If Bellavia makes it to the general election, he knows there will be huge sums of money spent on his behalf trying to defeat Kathy Hochul. While Bellavia said he will have no control over these independent expenditures, he won't stand, he said, for ads that are nothing more than mud slinging.
"I have standards and honor is important to me," Bellavia said. "I’m a father. I'm an example to my children. I’m a husband. If I have an ad where an organization is showing representative Hochul throwing an elderly woman off a cliff, you better believe the next day after that commercial airs, I will stand up and say this is completely repugnant and unnecessary.
"I can beat her," he added. "I will beat her, but I’m going to beat her the old-fashioned way. With issues. We’re going to talk to the people. I don't need to smear Mr. Collins or Mrs. Hochul. I think their records stand for themselves."