Normally I put together a piece every week discussing candidates you may have missed - but this week, I was able to interview PA-02 candidate Rick Hellberg. Rick Hellberg is hoping to take down Democratic incumbent, Chaka Fattah, in Pennsylvania's 2nd Congressional District. What makes Fattah notable is the fact that he wants to tax each of your ATM and other bank transactions. Hellberg is a business owner and non-profit board member with a solid, conservative platform. What follows are his answers to my questions from an email-based interview.
Matthew Newman: What made you decide to run for Congress against Democratic incumbent, Chaka Fattah?Rick Hellberg: Philadelphia needs two vibrant political parties. Democrats like Fattah have been given a free pass for far too long and its time someone really challenged him.MRN: What grade would you give the incumbent?RH: As a conservative Republican, I would give him an "F." He has voted with Pelosi nearly 100% of the time. He has been a huge supporter of spending unless it is on the military. He is one of 70 Congressman listed as a member of the Democratic Socialist movement. He even supported legislation, HR 748, which would allow anyone to transport an underage teen cross state lines to terminate a pregnancy without notifying their parents or legal guardian. Not only is he out of touch with conservative values, he is even out of touch with the liberal portion of main stream America.MRN: Many consider Pennsylvania's 2nd Congressional District to be one of the most Democratic leaning in the nation. In 2008 and 2006, Fattah received over 80% of the popular vote. Do you feel the dynamics of this race will be different in 2010?RH: Yes, we have been in every ward of the 2nd district and voters, even in his strongest areas, are beginning to see this congressman does little or nothing. We are constantly hearing complaints about total lack of constituent services by Fattah. People are tired of not having phone calls, e-mails, or letters answered or actually receiving an answer that says nothing. These facts, combined with America’s dissatisfaction with Washington, tell us that 2010 will be a very different year.MRN: How do you feel that your background makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a member of Congress?RH: For 35 years, I have counseled business owners on reducing their commitment to the IRS. Small business owners are the driving force in the US economy; I know how they think, I know what issues are important to them, and I know how to help them create jobs.MRN: What would be the first piece of legislation you would propose if elected?RH: I would co-sponsor a bill that would terminate further spending on the stimulus and/or to defund and repeal Obamacare. I would work towards developing a more competitive health care bill that would actually help reduce premiums and insure more Americans. I would co-sponsor a bill that would replace our tax code with a flatter income tax and a national sales tax, and sponsor a bill that would encourage businesses to create jobs; both would stimulate the economy, providing for rapid growth over decades.MRN: On your website, you mention that, "For our national security; for our economy; for the sake of our least advantaged citizens; we must become energy independent." What specific measures would you propose before Congress to achieve this goal?RH: I believe we should develop every form of available energy in an environmentally sensitive manner. This could be done without the reams of environmental regulations currently on the books and replacing them with the requirement that any program of development show the financial resources necessary to clean up any mishaps. From the beginning, the private sector needs to know they are totally responsible for the environment and the limits of that responsibility. Between company assets and insurance they must have the ability to cover even the worst disaster. Then government needs to get out of their way and allow them to create the energy and clean up after themselves. If this mindset was in place this past year, the Gulf of Mexico spill would have been cleaned up within days not months.MRN: Incumbent Congressman Chakah Fattah (D) has proposed a transaction tax on certain bank transactions during every session of Congress since 2006. What are your thoughts on this proposal?RH: Sorry, I can't stop laughing....Chaka has taken a feasible idea outlined by Dr. Edgar Feige in his APT Tax proposal and screwed it up completely. Anyone supporting his legislation should be forced to leave Congress immediately.MRN: You have a detailed tax plan on your website that includes a simplification to just 2 taxes - a federal income and a federal sales tax. Can you briefly explain this system and how it could improve upon our current tax structure?RH: Currently, 95% of federal revenue is received from the taxation of income, payrolls, and profits; the three elements of jobs. Any activity you tax, you reduce, and we must balance our federal revenue between incomes and consumption. Neither should be required to carry the full burden. By simplifying out income tax and REDUCING MARGINAL RATES, we will stimulate job creation and economic growth. By taxing consumption, we will steer a portion of the economy into investments, further stimulating job creation and growth. The only downside will be to accountants and tax advisors like me; a sacrifice I will happily make for the good of our country.MRN: On your website section discussing immigration, you say, "We must continue to welcome those hard working immigrants who want to create a better life for themselves and their families. What we can’t allow are small minority of immigrants who come to our shores to do us harm, break our laws or live off our system." What specific measures would you propose regarding immigration if elected?RH: I believe we need to have a program where businesses and individuals can sponsor immigrants. This program would be contingent upon each immigrant obtaining full clearance by Homeland Security. Then the business or individual would be required to guarantee the immigrant has a job, shelter and health care. As soon as any of those situations change, the business or individual must cover the cost of those three things while the immigrant is living in this country or until they become a citizen.MRN: In closing, what is the one thing you want to ensure that people know about your candidacy?RH: We want people to understand the Chaka Fattah is very beatable. We are making significant headway, meeting so many incredible people who have never heard a conservative view point in their life.