I think Congress is an environment where I think I can make a significant impact. I'm running because of my disappointment with the current direction of our government. They have become too invasive in our individual lives and the approach to spending is deplorable.
There is an old adage in politics that says challengers don’t win elections, incumbents lose them.I think Don Sherwood proved that. Why do you think Carney deserves to lose?
I think Carney does deserve to lose because he doesn’t reflect the values of the 10th congressional district very effectively. When you look at some of the votes that he has cast during his time in Congress they have been inconsistent with the rhetoric he put forth during his campaign. I don’t think they necessarily reflect the values of the district.
Give me an example?
I will give you several. One is the card check vote which allows unions to organize employees without a secret ballot. This would remove a fundamental right that workers have to a secret ballot which is protection from coercive actions by union organizers. I think the most recent example is the S-CHIP legislation that takes dollars out of Medicare and uses them to provide health insurance to illegal immigrants. Taking away the states rights to verify that they are a US citizen before they can be offered those benefits. Some of those kinds of things really fly in the face of the district.
Big thing in the news was General Petraeus said when asked if the war in Iraq is making us safer he said he didn’t know. He back tracked later. What do you think?
I think the war in Iraq has made us safer. What I would point to is lack of attacks in this country during the most recent time frame. I actually believe we are safer because we have taken the fight to these Islamic fanatics first hand.
In you latest press release you used the phrase Islamofascist terrorism. What does that mean?
My view is that this war is not just a war in Iraq. This a war against an ideology, much like the war against the Soviets. That was an ideology that they were trying to force on other countries. Here is the relationship I would draw for you. If you look at the parallels between the cold war and the war we are currently fighting they are very, very similar. In 1945 World War II ended. In 1947 because Europe wasn’t getting back on it’s feet we rolled out something called the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was a self serving vehicle which was perfectly appropriate and well orchestrated, it really helped Europe get back on it’s feet. We saw what was happening in Eastern Europe with of many of those countries becoming Communist so we started the containment process. So in 1947 we rolled out the Marshall Plan. In 1950 there was a war in Korea that was a containment activity and the war in Vietnam was a containment activity. The war in Afghanistan was an effort of containment. I don’t know if most people understand but we actually backed Al Qaeda against the Soviets in trying to maintain Afghanistan’s independence. During the cold period it took us 50years to win that war. And I dare say we were effective in winning that war. But there was many different pieces and again that was an ideology that these people, these communists, were trying to force on the rest of the world. It was a way of living, away of life, and we appropriately had a long term thought out strategy on how we were going to win it. It think that’s what we really need to be effective against these Islamist fascists. I’m sure you understand that the goal here is putting in place a theocracy. That is the goal of these Islamic extremists, to use a theocracy much like what was in place in Afghanistan before we unseated that terrorist regime. They oppressed the people, they ruled through fear, it’s no different than any other Dictatorship and that’s what we are fighting against. We’re not fighting against Iraqi’s or Afghan’s but we’re fighting against an ideology. These people are out to get us. They have articulated a one hundred year plan that they have to try to beat us. So they’re not looking at this as a short term fight, this is a long term conflict.
How about the domestic reaction to 9/11 such as the Patriot Act? Do you support the Patriot Act?
Yes. I think the Patriot Act was an appropriate response and I think one of the things we do is to continue to be aggressive in how we fight against this enemy.
The Military Commissions Act. One of things that bothers me is that the Government can declare somebody an enemy combatant and hold them without habeas corpus. Do you favor that?
I favor an aggressive approach in trying to deal with our enemy and I do believe we should be as aggressive as possible. This is in fact a war and we need to deal with it as such. .
Specifically, do you favor holding an American citizen without access to the courts?
Correct me if I’m wrong but they are not holding American citizens, are they?
That’s true he was held, but has since been convicted and is awaiting sentencing. The reality is we have to hold enemy combatants. The Military Commissions Act gave broad authority to the President to designate someone is an illegal enemy combatant, which was the designation issued to Jose Padilla.
Even they are a United States citizen arrested in the United States?
You say you are Pro-Family, what do you mean by that? Nobody is anti-family.
I disagree with you, I think some people are anti-family. I think there is no more important unit than the family structure and defining that as a mother and father is very important to me. I think from an educational perspective the students that clearly do best are in good solid family situations. I’m pro-family, I’m pro-life and I’m very interested in using that as the building block for our society. I believe that what our society stands on.
On the pro-life issue. Some say that you were pro-choice before?
Always been, I was raised Catholic and I think some people like to misinterpret things for their own purposes.
What about abstinence only education?
I think the important thing is that the government not be involved in providing birth control because that is not the role of government. There are good reasons that abstinence makes sense. I think we must continue to educate kids, as the media as well as rock and rap have a promiscuous tone and demeanor which is often less than positive. I think providing the other side of the story is useful and important.
Gay marriage, for or against?
I would oppose that because of the sanctity of mother and father relationship.
Plain equal rights for gay citizens?
What does that mean?
You can’t be fired because you’re gay? Many states allow it.
I think that’s an interesting point because I think states have rights to do what they like. But I’m not for any form of discrimination, but I would also suggest no single group should get any preferential treatment, period.
You run a temp agency and temp agencies are notorious for hiring illegal aliens. What do you do prevent to prevent that?
I think that’s an absolute mischaracterization of the flexible staffing business and I think the tone of that is insulting. Please also note, I own 3 other businesses - Professional Recruiting, Insurance Brokerage and Administrative Services. That having been said I will answer your question. We have been using the Homeland Security Pilot Program to verify that someone’s name ,ssn and date of birth match. We are one of the 8000 companies in the country to use this system to make sure that the people that we hire are not illegal aliens.
Nobody is for illegal immigration.
I disagree with that. There are lots of organizations that are for it. Look at the ACLU and their efforts to fight the most recent rules of the Department of Homeland Security to enforce no matches within the Social Security Admin database.
What do you think of Lou Barletta’s approach?
I give Lou a lot of credit for taking a stand and trying to get something done. Whether in fact it’s the right thing or wrong thing isn’t for me to decide but I applaud him for taking action and trying to deal with the problem in a proactive fashion.
DO you think he is trying to usurp the powers of the federal government?
That’s a very interesting question because the premise that lies behind it is that the federal government has the right to regulate these things through the commerce clause. I think there is a question to where states rights are and being a federalist and recognizing the states should have more of the rights that have been taken away from them since 1937. States should have the latitude to be more aggressive in dealing with theses issues.
You made a contribution the Luzerne County Democratic County Commissioners then got a county contract. Do you want to address that?
I would be happy to. I brought you a list because I thought you might want it, these are the contributions made to the Skrepnak/Vonderheid committee. Chris Hackett gave $5000 on 12/15/2006. There are some other people you might recognize that also contributed on the same day - I think the total was $161,000 for that day. My point is that I was a supporter of Todd Vonderheid and I think many Republicans supported Vonderheid. Our effort was to have better county government. I think if you got hrough this list you will find that most people don’t do any work with the county and just wanted better government - like me. Vonderheid came from the Chamber and really understands business and he would try to run the county as a business and be more frugal with the taxpayers money. I think his efforts went well from that perspective. We have work with the county but the contract that you are talking about started at the end of 2005 and was finished in April 2007. To suggest that this $5000 contribution was something that we paid to get the contract is an illegitimate, politically motivated conclusion. But I want to be clear, I also made contributions to Todd when he was initially running in 2003, as well as a fund raiser in early 2006. Each of those contributions was $1,000. But I think it is disingenuous to say we got this business because of the any contributions - the county does have a formal bidding process and the rates we bid are clearly very, very competitive. Please remember, the 19% mark-up on the wages we paid also had to cover FICA, FUTA, SUTA and Worker's Compensation costs, payroll processing as well as the cost of carrying the receivables - we were paid over 200 out for some of our invoices. Clearly this was not the "sweetheart" deal that some would suggest. We did bill at a 30% mark-up for a couple employees because they were a much higher worker's compensation category.
People want to know how you voted last time?
I think we all go into the voting booth and pull the levers that we think are right. And I think we have a right to maintain our privacy on how we vote. I think who I vote for is my business and nobody else’s business.
The Stephen Colbert question. Dubya, a great president or the greatest?
I think that history is going to show that a lot oft he things that George Bush is doing today particularly in the war against terrorism are going to be correct. I will tell you have I have some real problems with the spending. I absolutely oppose earmarks.
Ed. Note: At this point my recorded malfunctioned so I will paraphrase his answers.
On college football Penn State and ND are my two favorite teams- but I also like Ohio State - I think Jim Tressler is a class act.
I asked some questions that were provided in the comments on an earlier post.
Has your company ever employed any illegal immigrants?
We comply with all laws regarding employment and as it relates to verifying ability to work in the US we go much further than most employers. The law requires employers to obtain certain acceptable documents to prove someone is able to work in this country. It is up to the judgment of the individual looking at the documents to assess validity. If they look reasonable, they must be accepted, as a business opens itself up to claims of discrimination if they reject prospective employees based on the exercising of this judgment.
As I noted before, we are part of a very small percentage of employers that use the Homeland Security program to verify a match of the Social Security Number, Data of Birth and Name. Aside from identify theft, this gives us a very high degree of certainty that the individual is eligible to work in the United States. We started utilization of this program over two years ago.
You are stating that you are pro life- are there any exceptions you would accept for a woman to get an abortion?
Yes. Rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
Do you favor making English the official language of the US?
Yes. But I think it is important to understand why I feel this way. One of the reasons our country is so prosperous is we share a common language, common currency, all states have property rights and we all follow the rule of law as a basis for interaction. If you don't require a common language, it decreases efficiency, and keeps those who don't learn English in low paying positions. Think about the jobs available to an individual who only speaks a foreign language - it is very limiting.
You have been a successful businessman but you have never donated any significant amount to the Republican Party…
My wife Ramah and I have tried to make a difference in a different way. We've focused on contributions to non-profits, much of it anonymous, as a way to positively impact our community. As you know the United Way is an organization we have been very involved with and continue to support. I feel by trying to earn the seat representing the 10th congressional district, I can further make a contribution to our community.
Have you made other contributions to Democrats and if you have to whom?
I made a $500 contribution to Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton because I thought Tom McGroarity wasn’t doing a good job. Mayor McGroarity was anti-Chamber and was generally an obstructionist and I would have supported almost anyone to keep him from gaining an additional term. The City of Wilkes-Barre is still digging out from his mismanagement.
He was asked about the war and he said that he wanted to concentrate on winning the war instead of getting out.
Regardless of whether it was right to get into Iraq I think we have a moral obligation to stay until the country is secure. We don’t want to leave behind a haven for terrorists. Additionally, military doctrine states you must have security before you can have an orderly and safe withdraw - it would put our troops at significant risk if we simply attempted to cut and run.
Do you favor raising the CAFE standards?
No. Let the market determine that. I also favor drilling for oil in ANWAR as a way to enhance energy independence.
Please expand on the following.The Wilkes-Barre Chamber, the biggest culprit when it comes to keeping wages down in the area.
I can't understand how anyone can make this argument. If we look at it from a supply and demand perspective; the Chamber's strategic plan and core mission calls for the recruitment and retainment of businesses in NEPA. If the Chamber brings in new businesses, and they hire Associates, the supply of available workers decreases and there is upward pressure on wages. Therefore, the best way to depress wages - if you could actually believe that was the intent of the Chamber - the simplest way to do it would be to not attract new business to the area. Clearly, this flies in the face of the facts as evidenced by the number of industrial parks the Chambers in the region have developed to provide a fertile environment for new businesses to locate.
Ask him about his vision for the future, and how he will create something other than part time jobs.
I very much appreciate this question, as it will give me a chance to address a common misconception about what we do. Our business recruits and places individuals from CEO's of public companies to hourly Associates. We've had assignments where people earn $100,000 doing computer engineering and were on these assignments for 8 years. We currently have 200 software trainers making $14-$17 per hour and many of these assignments have been ongoing for two years. 95% of our work is FULLTIME and we are a bridge to our client's payroll for 100's of people per year. Additionally, the majority of our "part-time" work is medical staffing and these tend to be nurses working full time at other locations who are looking for some additional hours.Regarding my vision for job creation. I have worked with many companies who have considered making our region the home for a new location. I often meet with these companies via my involvement with Penn's Northeast or the various chamber organization. I review the labor market makeup and help them decide if our market has the right workforce given what they are willing to offer in terms of compensation, benefits, working conditions, hours and necessary skills. I feel the development of the new medical school in the Scranton area, the by-pass around Selinsgrove, and keeping interstate 80 from being tolled is critical to the future of our region.