Issues - Russ Fulcher for Congress


Healthcare and healthcare insurance cost too much.  People struggle to afford it and there is uncertainty on the future of what will be offered.  The people of the 1st Congressional District need better access to more affordable, high-quality healthcare.  That will come from more choice and competition, lower prices, greater pricing transparency, and fewer federal mandates.  Choice is not forcing every insurance policy to fit rigid Obamacare mandates.  Choice means letting people buy what they need for themselves and their families.  Lower prices come from unleashing competition by medical providers and insurance companies – putting the power in the hands of the patient.  That is why I support free market-based “patient-centric alternatives” that include charity care, direct primary care, medi-share, medical memberships, expanded integration of disease management and wellness programs that utilize technology, and use of alternative treatment strategies based on approved science.

It also means removing federal healthcare mandates, while at the same time allowing people to increase their resources to pay for healthcare and healthcare insurance – tax free.  These include letting people do more with tax-free Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and other healthcare accounts for people to have options in the paying for healthcare and healthcare insurance.  And, it means allowing people to buy in large groups (“association buying”) in the individual health insurance market.  This is crucial because the high premiums that characterize the individual health insurance market hurt low-income, working Idahoans.

I support a healthcare system where choice, transparency, competition, and fewer federal healthcare mandates will empower individuals with lower costs and greater access to high-quality healthcare and insurance.  We don’t need government-controlled healthcare.  We need a “parallel path” based more on market and private charity alternatives where individuals and families can access good healthcare.

President Ronald Reagan once said the best way to measure the success of a government program is to count the number of people who no longer needed it.  Sadly, the lack of high-wage job options, rising healthcare costs, and irresponsible federal management make it just the opposite story in Idaho.  A growing number of our fellow citizens now rely upon government programs just to make ends meet, including Medicaid.  They would rather have good-paying jobs that allow them to provide for their families and enjoy the benefits of employment.  I would rather they have greater access to more affordable, high-quality healthcare and healthcare insurance.

As a former State Senator with a solid record of empowering citizens, I know our great state must deal with competing demands on a limited budget.  And yet, the federal government proposes to expand Medicaid, acting as if the status quo of borrowing more than 40 cents on every dollar spent is sustainable.  It is not.  I will not stand by as the federal government continues to obligate state taxpayers to do more with borrowed federal money.  When elected to Congress, I will not allow our state to be put under more financial stress from irresponsible federal budgets coming out of Washington, D.C.

When it comes to Medicaid expansion, Idaho must find a way to be in control to ensure the vulnerable in our state get the sense of ownership and obligation that comes with personal responsibility.  They must be incentivized to exercise better healthcare options tied to specific outcome goals.  At the end of the day, if we give people better job options, lower healthcare costs, and provide more choice and competition in health insurance, these programs become unnecessary.

We must reform Medicaid, integrating innovations, technology, incentives, and responsibility to control costs and improve health outcomes.  We owe it to the taxpayers of Idaho to move people from Medicaid to full independence.  In the meantime, we have to get a better return on investment for every dollar spent.

I stand with the majority of Idahoans who reject our state being near the bottom of many social and economic measures. About 12% of Idaho’s population receives food stamps and Medicaid continues to grow, threatening spending on education and state functions.  Despite some job creation, Idaho ranks fifth highest in the nation in the country for minimum wage jobs.  And, like four years ago, the Tax Foundation found Idaho has one of the worst business tax climates in the West.

Meanwhile, the costs of healthcare, groceries, and other items keep rising with Idaho not adopting patient-centric healthcare alternatives, eliminating the tax on groceries, cutting regulations, or controlling government spending.

I spent my professional career as a businessman traveling the world promoting Idaho’s economy.  I know what it will take to get this economy moving again.  We will get the federal government out of the way so Idaho businesses can grow.  We will build on educating and training our workforce for jobs in growth industry sectors throughout our state, removing excessive federal mandates that act as an obstacle to ensuring Idaho has the most competitive workforce in the world.  And, we will unleash responsibly our natural resources to create business and job opportunities in every part of our state.

I pledge to do all I can to make Idaho the best place in the world to start a business, locate a business, and run a business.  It will have a highly skilled and educated workforce – both today and in the future.  And it will be a state that becomes unshackled from federal burdens that limit its growth.  I will not let excessive federal intrusions and fiscal irresponsibility from making Idaho, once again, that “sparkling gem” to guide our people and this nation to economic prosperity.

Underemployment in Idaho sits at nearly 20%.  This means we aren’t as prosperous as we could be.  Added to that, Idaho has the fifth highest percentage of minimum wage workers in the country.  While the unemployment rate is less than 4%, some of our counties remain stuck at 6% or 7%.  I want high-wage job opportunities in every part of our state.  Idaho has the most hardworking and productive people in the world.  And our young people have shown tremendous promise.  They all deserve better.  I believe we can do better because I saw it… I lived it… working for a startup known as Micron Technology.  Through ingenuity, hard work, and applying Idaho values, we grew from that startup to a Fortune 500 company with sales in excess of $1 billion per year.

If the federal government helps Idaho focus on our strengths – human resources, natural resources, technology, agriculture, healthcare, competitive business tax climate, and a highly skilled and educated workforce – by getting out of the way, we could create high-wage jobs that will bring prosperity to families and entrepreneurs, as well as ensure state and local governments throughout our state get the funds they need to meet their constitutional requirements.  Together, we can do this!

The federal government controls about 63% of Idaho’s land.  I believe Idahoans can more effectively manage our lands here than federal officials can from Washington, D.C. In Idaho, we are proud of our natural resource industries and the jobs that they create.  I will not sit idle while federal bureaucrats who don’t live here (and don’t know us tell us) tell what to do with our land, forcing us to rely on reduced PILT payments (payment in lieu of taxes) and making us deal with larger and more damaging wildfires because the federal government doesn’t invest in properly thinning and managing our lands.

I will do all I can to shift responsibility for Idaho’s natural resources from the federal government to the people State of Idaho; thus reducing Idaho’s dependence on a broke and broken federal government.  I will do all I can to ensure those resources are accessible, protected, and managed in a way that benefits the people of Idaho.  We need to protect against the government selloff of natural resources.  We can use our natural resources more wisely: to create higher paying jobs, protecting the environment, and managing lands more responsibly than the federal government.

High taxes and too much regulation stifle economic growth.  Much of this comes from the federal government.  At a time when so many Idaho families and businesses struggle to pay their bills, they should not have to forfeit so much of their hard-earned money to a federal government that cannot manage its spending.  I support funding the federal government to help them meet their constitutional requirements: Defense, Foreign Affairs, Immigration, and the like.  Those are big responsibilities that come with substantial financial burdens.

However, the Constitution also gives state and local governments responsibilities.  That means eliminating wasteful federal tax and regulatory burdens that force Idaho and local governments throughout our state to have to spend money to comply with government regulations.  If we got rid of redundant and wasteful federal rules, governments throughout our state could save money and meet their regulatory obligations.  I will do all I can to cut taxes the way I got a grocery tax credit, returning more than $600 million per year to Idaho’s hardworking families.

If we eliminated redundant and wasteful federal regulations and reformed the federal tax code, we could make it easier to start a business and create jobs, retrain and educate oneself for success, and give families more opportunities to save and invest for their and their children’s future.  I will work closely with my colleagues in the Idaho State Legislature to focus on those most damaging federal taxes and mandates to our state and our people.

In 2017, our national debt sits at nearly $20 trillion, about $61,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.  Debt-to-GDP (the value of what we produce) is about 100%.  That means to pay this debt off, we would have to stop every federal government operation, paycheck, and any other spending for a full year.  Imagine a household trying to do that!  And yet, we’re borrowing another $600 billion just to keep the government running.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) by 2027 the U.S. will be borrowing an estimated $1.5 trillion per year to keep the government running.  This is not sustainable; and it is unfair to our children and grandchildren to pass along this debt.

I support policies that reduce federal spending and borrowing.  I will use my legislative and business experience to build coalitions in the Congress and my business executive experience to negotiate with the White House to lower federal debt so that we don’t saddle our children and grandchildren with this financial burden.  I will remove redundant and wasteful federal programs, agencies, and departments, working closely with my colleagues in the Idaho State Legislature on the targeting, prioritization, and reduction of these federal burdens.

Currently, about 36% of Idaho’s state budget is funded with federal dollars.  We have become a subsidiary of the federal government, a funding source that is both broke and broken given its unsustainable borrowing.  Our state’s dependence on a Washington, D.C. must be reduced.  That means reducing costly federal mandates and taxes that soak up scarce state resources in compliance.  That is the first step we can take to empower Idahoans to provide them with more opportunities to thrive and prosper.

Idaho’s adoption and implementation of Common Core can be seen by the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test: It is costly, time-consuming, expensive to administer, and intrusive on our schools.  The federal government has been imposing education requirements on states since the 1970s.  From initiatives in the 1990s such as “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top”, the federal government has given us everything except for one thing: a good education.  A good education comes from involved parents, good teachers, top-quality learning materials, the latest technology, and a supportive community.  All of that exists here in Idaho and is best administered here… not in Washington, D.C.

Idaho must have the opportunity to build an education system that provides high-quality training to ensure a competitive workforce.  That includes opportunities for re-training to get people back to work in emerging industries.  Rather than imposing federal regulations on our state, I believe the federal government should limit its role in education.  It should promote choice and quality, with an eye to getting the best education outcome for every dollar spent.  Whether it’s public, private, charter, digital or home school, the success of the student must come first.  That’s why Idahoans, not the federal government, should control our own education system.

One of the core roles the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government is to protect and defend the people and territory of the United States.  Defense is also critical to ensure our liberties, freedoms, commerce, and way of life are preserved.

I will do all I can to ensure our military remains strong: Well-trained; fully equipped; and ready to protect and defend our country.  I will also push to end the budgetary gridlock that so often entangles our military.  We need a steady spending stream in our defense to ensure the military can plan around procurement, construction, and training that are the backbone of readiness should a crisis occur or should we need to deploy for a longer period of time to protect our interests abroad.

This is important in part, because our constitution gives Congress – specifically, the House of Representatives – with the power over “war and peace.”  I oppose nation-building and excessively long engagements that lack a definition and strategy to win.  The job of the military is to fight and win wars, defending our homeland and our interests only.  I also oppose any military operation that is not approved and supported by a proper act of the Congress and led by the U.S. military.

Foreign policy is also an area the U.S. Constitution bestows a responsibility onto the federal government.  Diplomacy, trade and economic relations, and various foreign support programs, can help to advance American interests and deter conflict.  However, any action or program must be approved and supported by a proper act of the Congress, and led by American government entities.  I believe the United States must act within its own interests and that this must be the guidepost of any actions we take abroad.

I believe that terrorism is an existential threat to the United States and our people.  My goal is the prevention of terrorist incidents on American soil, along with helping our allies prevent its spread throughout the world – per American interests.  I also believe we should fight terrorism overseas, so as to prevent it from having to be fought on American soil.

Cyberattacks and the threat to us from them are a new, but highly important phenomenon.  I will do all I can to address the issue of cyber-security and the threat of cyberattacks on our people, private businesses, and government institutions.

I will do all I can to ensure there is order and security on the border of the United States.  If a person wants to come here to start a business, get a job, obey American law, and assimilate to our way of life, I welcome that person.  If that person does not want to do those things, I do not welcome them.  If that person wants to harm Americans, I will support bringing them to justice.

I have always been a staunch defender of the 2nd Amendment. I stand against any efforts to erode every Idahoan’s constitutional right to bear arms.  I received an A+ rating from the NRA for my tireless efforts to protect the 2nd Amendment, including carrying legislation that advances 2nd Amendment rights for law-abiding Idahoans.

As a father of three young adults, I have always been ardently pro-life.  I believe that life begins at conception, and that every unborn child has the inherent right to life.  For my longstanding efforts to protect the unborn in the Idaho Legislature, I received the “Friend for Life” award from Idaho Chooses Life in 2013 and the “Legacy of Life” award from Stanton Healthcare in 2014.

I opposed the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho in the 1990’s, and I oppose it today.  I have always held the position that an excessive population of wolves is detrimental to Idaho’s economy and natural resources.  It is also another example of distant federal bureaucrats imposing their views on local Idahoans.  We must drastically reduce wolf populations in Idaho and ensure that the damage they cause is fully compensated.  I will deal with the Department of Interior and those in the Congress to address this issue.

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Paid for by Russ Fulcher for Idaho. Julie Johnson Treasurer.

Russ Fulcher For Idaho
PO Box 1375
Meridian, ID 83680