Delaney promotes ‘common sense stuff, not huge change’

John Delaney  |GCNO photo

Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney over the past two years has listened to hundreds of voters at comparatively small campaign events, and he has his own version of what they’re looking for. “They’re looking for a steady set of hands on the economy. They’re not looking for someone who’s going to cause upheaval in the economic policy with some of these extreme ideas, and they’re looking for someone who’s decent,” he said. “People want common sense stuff, not huge change.”

He shared some of his “common sense stuff” with about 20 voters at David and Emily Weaver’s farm northeast of Rippey Tuesday morning.

According to Delaney, America is a magnificent country that has every advantage a country could want in 2019 except for one thing: the government is broken.

“But we can fix that,” he said, “by voting in the right people. That doesn’t always mean a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent… but voting in people who are doing it for the right reason… We don’t always have to agree with them, but if we get enough people doing it for the right reason, it’s all going to work out.”

For Delaney, the “right” reason to run for office is to perform public service. “We need people who are actually serving for the people, who understand they work for the people, who bring good intentions and decency and morality and a commitment to do the work and figure out the best solutions,” he said.

Delaney was elected to the House of Representatives from Maryland’s Sixth District – the Maryland panhandle – in 2012. He describes the district as “America in miniature,” as small dairy farms comprise the western portion and Bethesda, a suburb of Washington D.C. is on the east side.

The district includes very conservative farmers and very progressive urban dwellers. “What I learned was how to find common ground between people who have very different perspectives of what they’re looking for,” he said.

The district was served by a Republican for 20 years before electing Delaney. He was reelected in 2014 and again in 2016.

John Delaney talking about tariffs, trade and agriculture  |  GCNO photo

Delaney, like most candidates, sees healthcare as the #1 issue in the campaign. He doesn’t support Medicare for All. “What we don’t need is upheaval. Healthcare is approaching one-fifth of our economy. It’s the largest part of our economy. The problem I have with Medicare for All is that it’s grounded in something I never think makes sense, which is throwing everything out and starting from scratch.

“What makes sense is to fix what’s broken and keep what’s working and we keep doing it until it’s all working,” he said.

Delaney explained that 20 years ago rural hospital patients were one-third Medicare patients, one-third Medicaid and one-third patients with commercial insurance. The higher payment rates of commercial insurance companies offset the lower payment rates of Medicare and Medicaid..

With the aging and decreasing population in rural America, commercial insurance patients comprise only 15-20 percent of a hospital’s patients. “That’s why they (rural hospitals) are struggling so much. Medicare for All would just accelerate that. It’s pretty obvious to me we have to sustain rural healthcare, which is already in almost a crisis mode,” Delaney said.
Tariffs and a trade war with China is on the mind of voters, and James Holz, Greene County Farm Bureau president, was there Tuesday to ask Delaney his views.

According to Delaney, President Trump is correct that there’s a trade problem with China, but his analysis of the problem is wrong.

Delaney said if he were elected, he would re-enter the U.S. in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That’s still possible until 20 days after the 2021 inauguration. He said being part of the TPP would allow the U.S. to be in “China’s backyard” competing in Asian markets, like the Japanese market.

Kent Scheib, a farmer from Dawson, told Delaney farmers are being hurt by not being in the TPP. “Not only is it our one main source to put pressure on China, but we can’t access the Japanese market like the Australians are and other countries are because they’re in the TPP and we’re not,” Sheib said.

Gun control is also an important issue this campaign cycle. Delaney supports universal background checks, limits on assault and military-grade weapons, and red flag laws.

Retired Des Moines Register columnist Chuck Offenburger asked about the “meanness” Trump expresses with comments like those he made last week about Baltimore, MD. “I’ve always thought the tone at the top matters… You have to model yourself, the way you want people to look at you and set an example. He (Trump) sets a terrible example. None of us want our kids to look at him and think this is the way you should behave in life. … This is not about policies. You can disagree with policies… but a president should lift us up. A president should try to unify us,” Delaney answered.

Delaney also spoke of his plan for every high school graduate to spend a year in national service before continuing to a trade or college. It could be the military, rebuilding infrastructure, working in national parks, building sustainable infrastructure, or other efforts.

“I think it would change how they think about their responsibility to our nation and about our relationships with each other. It would be a transformative approach to how we approach each other,” he said.

It would also give students an opportunity to “earn” a scholarship for college or vocational training. A year of national service would be rewarded with two years of financial aid.
Delaney said he wants to see a national service program grow to be mandatory, but until public sentiment grows, it would be voluntary. He acknowledges it could take decades for that to happen, but he’d like to get the program started.

He thinks campaign issues should be things people are talking about at their kitchen tables. “But positions shouldn’t be too extreme because we’re not an extreme county,” Delaney said. “This is a center right or center left country.”

He counts himself as center left. According to farmer Kent Scheib, he’s the only Democrat who can appeal to enough Independents and Republicans to win the presidency. Delaney said he hopes that’s how other people see it, too.

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