THE RACE FOR CONGRESS in the 19th District gives voters a choice between two men with exceptional but quite different backgrounds in public service: incumbent Republican Representative Chris Gibson and Democratic challenger Julian Schreibman. Despite endless, simple-minded commercials aimed at demonizing the other guy–if it’s in black and white, you know it’s bashing one of them–both candidates have positions worthy of consideration.
Mr. Gibson rose through the ranks in the Army to end his career as a colonel, having commanded combat troops in Iraq, among other assignments. His knowledge of military matters lent weight to his decision to oppose some unnecessary military appropriations, bucking the House GOP leadership. He also opposed reauthorization of the Patriot Act on the grounds that parts of it are not constitutional, a refreshing stand against government intrusions in our lives. He’s been an energetic advocate for the region and during the campaign he has emphasized his ability to work in a bipartisan fashion, a welcome sentiment in an era poisoned by partisanship.
Mr. Schreibman served as an attorney for the CIA, and participated in the prosecution of the al Qaeda terrorists who bombed U.S. embassies in Africa. He was also an assistant district attorney in Ulster County and has been in private practice. Like Mr. Gibson, he grew up in this region and knows it firsthand. Both candidates come from modest beginnings and have proved that’s no barrier to success.
All candidates profess their love and support for small business. Mr. Gibson says small business owners tell him that regulations and taxes are killing their enterprises. No doubt that’s true in some cases, but other small business owners can only hope that taxes on their profits would become their biggest problem.
These entrepreneurs worry about a lack of public demand for goods and services. When the federal government rewards the wealthiest taxpayers with an unfairly low tax rate while the rest of the country pays more than its share, it strains the ability of the rest of us to buy goods and services at a pace that makes the economy strong.
Mr. Gibson did step back this year from endorsing for a second time the unworkable budget proposed by Congressman Paul Ryan, the GOP candidate for vice president. But he supports a plan dubbed “Cut, Cap and Balance” that could handcuff the government’s response the next time our economy sours. And though Mr. Gibson has reportedly moderated his calls for repealing Obamacare, its far from clear that the changes he now supports are different from earlier proposals that would gut the program and leave the public to pick up the tab.
You don’t have to accept everything proposed by Mr. Schreibman and the Democratic Party to see that they start from a fairer, more workable place. It’s one that doesn’t make our wealthiest neighbors and enterprises more equal than the rest of us when it comes to taxation. It’s one that sees Obamacare as an investment in public health and the nation’s strength into the future. The programs advocated by Mr. Schreibman also recognize that one of the burdens on small businesses is the inability until now to offer reasonably priced health insurance, which leaves small employers at the mercy of insurance companies and unable to compete with large firms that do make health plans a benefit of employment. Yes it’s government–it’s government that levels the playing field, allowing entrepreneurs a chance to flourish.
One more issue hangs over this campaign: women’s health. During his term Mr. Gibson has twice voted to cut off funding for women’s health services provided by Planned Parenthood. These are services like cancer screenings and primary gynecological care that poorer women might not otherwise be able to afford. Mr. Gibson has said there are other ways to provide these services, but neither he nor the GOP majority in the House proposed a credible replacement.
A public outcry derailed the plan to de-fund these life-saving services, but Mr. Gibson was on the wrong side. Mr. Schreibman has made clear his support for Planned Parenthood and other women’s issues. This is not a minor legislative scuffle. Women are more than half the population.
On the economy and healthcare, on a fairer tax system, issues large and small that will have a lasting impact on the people of the 19th Congressional District, Julian Schreibman can do more for the long-term well being of his constituents and nation. Please vote for him November 6.