Issues - Russ Fulcher for Congress

THE ISSUES

Healthcare and healthcare insurance costs too much, and Idahoans need better access at a lower price. That will come from more choice and competition, greater transparency, and fewer federal mandates. Choice is enabled by making consumer information available, then letting people choose 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.

Specifically, this includes short-term health plans that help Idahoans access competitively priced, robust health plans if they’re in between jobs, lost their job because of COVID-19, got a new job that doesn’t offer health insurance, or simply can’t afford a full health plan. While the Democrats tried to kill these affordable options, I voted to keep them for Idahoans on the Education & Labor Committee and on the House floor. I also supported the Trump Administration’s backing of these low-cost alternatives. When Democrats wrote to the Department of Health & Human Services, trying to undermine Idaho’s effort to make these options available, I led communications on behalf of the Idaho delegation, informing HHS why Idaho’s Enhanced Short-term Plans (ESTPs) are needed and helpful. Despite Democrats seeking to kill these low-cost options, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Idaho’s ESTPs, seeing them as affordable coverage options.

I also 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. I co-sponsored bills allowing people to purchase health care sharing ministry plans, applying Medicare Part D rebates for premium reductions and deductions, using HSA funds to pay for over-the-counter medications, and returning funds back to Americans taxpayers from “price-fixing” foreign governments. Alternatives also means allowing people to buy in large groups (“association buying”) in the individual health insurance market. This can help because the high premiums that characterize the individual health insurance market hurt low- income, working Idahoans.

Affordable access includes removing federal healthcare mandates, while at the same time allowing people to increase their resources to pay for healthcare and healthcare insurance – tax free. Last year I supported the successful repeal of the Obama administration’s 40% “Cadillac Tax” health plans.

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. In Congress, I have sought alternatives to Medicaid, helping people get the care they need while finding self-sufficiency. That’s why I am pleased the Trump Administration relaxed federal rules, allowing various types of short-term health plans. These plans are renewable for up to three years, provide many of the same or better coverage – such as with “enhanced” short-term plans – and at a competitive price.

Local and personal control must be in place to ensure Idahoans get the sense of ownership and obligation that comes with personal responsibility. People must be incentivized to exercise better healthcare options tied to specific outcome goals. 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 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.

Since getting to Congress, I sponsored legislation to get mines up and running more quickly and safely to rely on domestic sources of minerals by streamlining the permitting process; to help local stakeholders access and manage better our diseased, dying forests more quickly through an arbitration process that can be an alternative to traditional litigation; and to allow tribes and counties to obtain proceeds from the sale of timber under Good Neighbor Authority. These bills will not only bring high-paying jobs to our rural areas, they leverage one of the key strengths of Idaho – our natural resources. Add to that our ability to earn an education or skill in fields like technology, agriculture, building, manufacturing, health care, and all kinds of specialized services, and you have an economic powerhouse called the Gem State!

I have also sponsored legislation to streamline the permitting process in mining and geothermal energy to boost Idaho as a source, to help local stakeholders access and manage our diseased, dying forests, and to allow counties and tribes to obtain proceeds from the sale of timber.

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.

Our veterans sacrificed a lot. They wore the uniform, served our country, and kept us free. Today, they volunteer, joining the military out of a sense of patriotism and duty, and to find opportunity with a purpose. I am grateful to each and every one of them. My office works closely with the rest of Idaho’s delegation, with the state’s veteran’s offices, and with the many veterans service organizations that represent our heroes. Whether it’s getting veterans needed funding, providing access to health care, or individual cases, my office does all it can to help those who wore the uniform.

Congress and the Trump Administration passed and implemented laws that allow veterans to access private health care when VA care is not readily available. To help, I co-sponsored the bipartisan ACT for Veterans Act, streamlining the benefits submission process when a veteran gets emergency care at a non-VA facility. I co-led two bipartisan initiatives: One to move $5 Mi of existing VA funds to pay for inpatient mental health care for veterans, helping them stay at facilities closer to home so they could be near their family and community. The other, the “Bring Our Heroes Home Act”, gives families access to service-members’ records for those veterans listed as POW or MIA.

I also co-sponsored bills to streamline health and safety inspections of state veterans’ homes, help military families with Military Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for their child’s education, and assist homeless veterans dealing with the costs of caring for minor dependents. I am also supporting bills to raise private money to pay for national monuments that honor service-members who fought in our nation’s wars by having the Treasury Department mint and sell commemorative coins. The money goes toward repair and maintenance of the monuments, along with education programs. This is a great way to engage Americans on the valiant efforts of our armed forces. These programs do not add to the deficit because the cost of minting the coins is built into the price. At a time when so many people want to tear down historical monuments, I want to ensure future generations know about the sacrifices of our veterans.

Other bills we passed in Congress identify and address veterans’ health care outcomes under a Department of Energy program that coordinates the efforts of federal agencies, national laboratories, higher education institutions, and non-profit organizations. We also provided Veteran Treatment Courts as an alternative to traditional courts for veterans involved in substance abuse and/or non-violent crimes related to trauma and/or stress they suffered in the military, including sexual trauma. Veteran Treatment Courts have reduced incarceration by 8% and lead to a recidivism rate of 14%. This compares to a recidivism rate of 43% for civilians that go through the traditional court system and get sent to prison. We also ensured women veterans have a program to address their particular physical and mental health issues.

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.

As a father of three young adults, I have always been ardently pro-life. I believe life begins at conception, and that every unborn child has the inherent right to life. In Congress, I have taken many actions to promote life. This includes co-sponsoring bills that block the use of taxpayer funds for abortions, requiring the CDC to report abortions performed, requiring doctors to care for a baby born alive due to a failed abortion, and reaffirming that life begins at conception.

I signed onto an amicus brief arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court that government cannot force churches or other religious organizations to include health plans that offer abortion-inducing drugs if it violates their religious beliefs. We won in a 7-2 decision (Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania). I also signed onto an amicus brief to support the Trump Administration’s proposed rule that prohibits referrals for abortions and requires any provider of abortion services that receives Title X funds to maintain a physical separation from its financial dealings. This was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Additionally, I have co-signed letters requiring Planned Parenthood to return PPP loan money it wrongly obtained, that people with disabilities should not be discriminated against when determining who to treat first for COVID-19, and for the Justice Department to step up its investigation on the charges that Planned Parenthood Federation of America was willing to sell body parts of aborted babies. I have co-signed other letters that address Obamacare plans that impose surcharges for abortion services, forcing health plan owners to have to pay the surcharges, whether they have a policy that allows abortion services or not, and called on HHS and the FDA to limit use of abortion-inducing drugs due to women’s health and safety concerns.

For my long standing efforts to protect the unborn, I have been acknowledged by many pro-life organizations. These include an endorsement by Right to Life, and being a recipient of the “Friend for Life” award from Idaho Chooses Life, and the “Legacy of Life” award from Stanton Healthcare.

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.

Effective border security of the United States is foundational to any good immigration policy. In my time in Congress, I have lobbied for and voted to fund building a border wall, and aggressively supported President Trump’s efforts accordingly. I have personally toured the border with congressional colleagues, and witnessed first-hand the security, human, and moral concerns enabled by illegal border crossings. I am working to put in place resources to make sure laws are enforced and we have an orderly, thorough, and controlled vetting process for anyone entering the United States. I’m also working to make sure Americans have the first opportunity at jobs before they are made available to non-citizens. For those who want to come to America to start a business, get a job, obey American law, assimilate, and do so legally… welcome! Those unwilling to do so are not welcome.

I believe in a merit-based immigration system, and oppose decriminalizing illegal immigration (which would utilize American taxpayer dollars to pay for the consequences). I also oppose issuance of driver’s licenses and provisional voting ballots to illegal aliens.

Most Idahoans believe in the full exercise of our 2 nd Amendment rights, and I am one of them. I support the Idaho 2nd Amendment Alliance and have received an A+ rating from the NRA for my work in protecting and promoting our right to bear arms.

Since becoming a member of Congress, I introduced the Second Amendment for Everyone (SAFE) Act of 2020. This act tells state and local leadership that if they defund or decrease their law enforcement, they should also eliminate barriers hindering residents from legally purchasing a firearm. This would help citizens fill the void in protecting their families and property.

I am also co-sponsoring legislation that allows concealed carry reciprocity between states, permits service-members to renew their conceal carry permits if they are stationed out of state, and eliminates the special “transfer tax” on gun suppressors. Additionally, I and several of my colleagues co-signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure members of a gun club could transport their firearms from inside New York City to outside the City to gun ranges where they could use them (the city had banned the transport of guns, which we argued violated the 2 nd Amendment). Interestingly, the city later reversed its ban.

Additionally, I voted against legislation that could among other things, prevent the transfer of firearms between family members and friends if there was any value in the “transaction” or likely deny law-abiding citizens from obtaining a firearm legally through obstacles in the NICS background check process.

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