KILMER TOWN HALL
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
North Kitsap High School Auditorium
Intro by Robert Gelder, District 1 Commissioner, North Kitsap
We should strengthen our nation’s ethics laws
We should protect our democracy from foreign intervention
We should empower the American Voter
Fix broken campaign finance system
We need to end budget gimmicks
Many feel they are losing ground
Variety of things we need to do to grow economy
Working on bills:
QUESTION AND ANSWER
Q: (Brandy) Thanks for supporting the ACA. Do you support medicare for all? Buy in for 55+?
A: Repeal and replace has proved to be a sham. Review of GOP bills and their drastic proposed cuts. Worst day in career: the day the healthcare bill passed the House. His offices have received more calls on this issue than any other during his 4 years in office.
Goals when it comes to healthcare:
ACA has meant progress on several fronts (pre-existing conditions, medicaid expansion, no lifetime caps, ability to stay on parents’ insurance, etc.).
ACA has started to bend the medical cost curve downward. (Costs are increasing at a rate slower than pre-ACA.)
Congress should fix parts of ACA
(He thinks we have a shot at Democrats and Republicans coming together on the first three points above.)
In regards to HB 676 (medicare for all)
Recommends reading Paul Krugman’s recent column about other models that provide universal healthcare (such as the Dutch model): https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/07/opinion/healthcare-single-payer-children.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
Q: Thanks for joining the bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus. What do you think Congress can do around what many would call the biggest public health concern of this century?
A: First of all, wants to make clear: climate change is real, is strongly opposed to pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord.
Climate change is already visibly affecting our district:
This is an economic opportunity, not an economic threat. We need to invest in renewables, smart grid, market-based solutions to carbon emissions.
Of note: The Climate Solutions Caucus is also nicknamed the “Noah’s Ark Caucus” because Representatives can only join in pairs--one Democrat and one Republican. This is a bi-partisan effort to address climate change. Rep. Kilmer was excited to find a Republican who agreed to join with him.
Q: There are currently 7 million Americans unemployed. It is predicted that ⅓ - ½ of jobs will be replaced by robots and automation in the next decade. How can we justify admitting 1 million immigrants per year to compete with American workers?
A: Acknowledged challenges. Is part of the Future of Work Task Force. Have faced these types of “industrial revolutions” before with similar predictions. We need to plan to make sure economic change is not something we are victims of, but something we shape. Cited examples of businesses now gone (Kit’s Cameras, Tower Records, Borders Books) because of massive technological change and economic change.
Government does an inadequate job of helping those displaced. Current scope of “trade adjustment assistance” is inadequate.
Co-sponsor of bi-partisan comprehensive immigration reform bill
Q: Works at ICU at Harborview. Works with opioid and heroin addicts (amazing people with a terrible disease). Where do you stand in treating these diseases? (Supporting addicts instead of marginalizing.) Also, patient satisfaction scores impact how hospitals get paid. Scores are lower at hospitals with more difficult clientele. Stance?
A: We need to address substance abuse and mental health issues (often co-occurring).
We have failed to address these issues. We see them manifested in:
Changes to be made
Introduced bi-partisan bill to expand treatment for substance abuse and mental health.
In regards to satisfaction scores being tied to money: reform should be done with providers, not to them. It is also hard to ask what patients’ satisfaction with a product is when they have so little choice in what they are buying, how much they are paying.
Q: Kilmer recently voted in favor of sanctions on Russia. “Sanctions are a form of warfare. Do you really want us to go to war with Russia?”
A: Believer in what Obama admin called “smart power”. We have other tools in our foreign policy toolbox than force:
Q: Grocery worker with UCFW, which also represents healthcare workers currently working under an expired contract: advocating for safe staffing, concerned by monopoly by CHI. Anything being done at the federal level to regulate monopolies on healthcare?
A: Would love to hear suggestions on how to do that.
Q: “Concerned about the escalating war of words being lobbed across the Pacific Ocean.” Today is the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. We are currently breathing smoke from forest fires hundreds of miles away. Doesn’t think current administration understands the very real consequences of nuclear arms. Would like to see situation de-escalated. Particularly as the representative of Trident submarine base, what are you doing to speak up against the dangerous rhetoric of the Trump administration?
A: Recently had classified briefing on N Korea. Trump’s rhetoric is irresponsible and unscripted. Those at Naval Base Kitsap have less zeal for using those weapons than any.
Solution is to drive to a phased denuclearization of N Korea.
Q: How do we get Trump under control though?
A: Wishes we could take away his twitter (seriously). Had hoped chief of staff would do that.
Q: What is Congress going to do about it?
A: Lincoln said, “Public sentiment is everything.” Make your voices heard.
Q: Thanks for great, responsive staff. Has been doing counseling, analysis of unemployment situation. Very difficult to realistically get gainful employment in part-time world (especially when dealing with price of commuting, childcare).
A: The nature of work is changing. People are often working multiple part-time jobs. Historically, system of benefits has been tied to employment. Can we set up some sort of system where people can have benefits like childcare, family leave?
Has introduced bills to advocate for these and to raise the minimum wage (“how do we make work pay?”) Unfortunately, not confident these bills will move in Republican Congress.
There is also a geographic element to inequality. In many areas of the state, the top export is young people. We need to provide economic opportunity regardless of where you live.
Q: Concerned with implementation of Sound to Olympic Trail on Bainbridge (a project funded by a federal grant, which the city of Bainbridge Island applied for). Many are concerned: if they cut every tree as they’ve been doing, we will lose that green corridor and animals who call it home. There should be some sort of regulations to hold projects accountable.
A: Agrees local projects should follow federal laws. Will get more info on that specific project.
Q: We “live in an era of politicized intelligence.” Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity claims hack of DNC server could not have been a hack, but had to be an internal leak. Why is there not a more robust debate on whether or not Russian hacking occurred?
A: Introduced Protecting Our Democracy Act to look at exactly what happened, who did what, and how to prevent it from happening again.
There is unanimity among intelligence agencies with regard to Russian involvement (in classified and unclassified settings).
Q: Are you able to have a positive feeling about the future of our country?
A: I couldn’t do this work if I didn’t.
Issues in Congress too often feel like games to be won. There are human beings attached to these issues. (Example: his daughter has had health issues, probably had 52 doctor appointments in first year of life.)
Was very upset after healthcare vote, but it’s not a good use of time to stay dejected. Motto in office: “We don’t agonize; we organize.”
“The American people are so much better than politics right now.”
Q: Concerned that they want to cut education 14% across the board. What can we do to fight against that?
A: We need to more educational opportunities for more people.
We need to:
Dead set against cuts to K-12 programs:
Education is the greatest investment we make. Will continue to fight against cuts on the Appropriations Committee.