Monday, October 16, 2006

Raj's Interview with the Evening Bulletin

Below is Raj’s interview with the Evening Bulletin. The interview was published on Monday.

I must confess that I did not believe Raj Bhakta was a serious candidate for Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District. I thought the only reason he was the Republican candidate was for much the same reason Arianna Huffington was a candidate for governor of California - publicity.

However, after speaking with him, I learned my preconceived notions were incorrect.

Bhakta impressed me as genuine, intelligent, articulate, with an infectious enthusiasm, and very creative. This last characteristic is important, as creativity is something that certainly has been lacking in Congress - from both parties - for years.

There were three issues I asked Bhakta to address - matters that I felt would help contrast him with the incumbent, Allyson Schwartz. These issues were medical malpractice reform, immigration and the Iraq war. His answers provide a precise demarcation between him and Schwartz. They will help voters better decide for whom to vote.

EB: What do you think should be done about medical malpractice and tort reform?

Bhakta: There is no question - it is irrefutable - that litigation costs drive up the cost of medical care and are driving doctors out of practice. In Pennsylvania, doctors are leaving because it is becoming too expensive to practice because of frivolous lawsuits.

Trial lawyers are profiting not because they are correcting an injustice, they are fleecing the system. Something has to be done to limit these unwarranted awards.

It is no secret that Congresswoman Schwartz will not do it because she is indebted to the trial lawyers. Last year, she received $700,000 in contributions from them. This is a tremendous amount of money from a special interest group.

I think there has to be a cap on what the lawyers receive. There cannot be incentives to bring fraudulent lawsuits as there are now. I would vote to eliminate junk lawsuits that cause skyrocketing health care costs and force doctors to leave the Commonwealth. I also want to introduce meaningful market-based reform.

EB: You are the son of legal immigrants. You have your own personal experiences to bring to the table when speaking about immigration. What would you do about illegal immigration?

Bhakta: First, I would secure the borders; that is the number one priority. These people have broken the law. There are people who are waiting 10 years to become citizens. People who waited like my parents did. Why should other people cut in line in front of them?

Second, I would present a program to illegal immigrants that offers them permanent worker visas. But they cannot become citizens and get the full benefit of social services that citizens get.

EB: The courts have ruled that illegal immigrants can get social services now. How can you prevent that?

Bhakta: I'm not talking about emergency room care or something like that. I'm talking specifically about Medicare and Social Security.

EB: Many politicians like the idea that illegal immigrants contribute to the social security system with bogus numbers. This way, the government keeps the money without paying it out.

Bhakta: Exempt them from social security taxes and payments. This is where I am different than anybody else on this issue. I do not want the American taxpayer to have to pay social services for them. If illegal aliens, who are being given a chance to get legal permanent worker visas, think this is unjust, they can always leave and go back where they came from.

EB: What incentive is there for illegal immigrants to follow your proposed law or any law for that matter? We've already said that we cannot deport them. Just recently, NYC Mayor Bloomberg said many businesses survive only by illegal immigrants doing jobs that Americans will not do for the wages they are paid.

Bhakta: That's true. Many businesses would close. Many illegal immigrants are hardworking people who only want to make a better life for themselves and their families. There is no sense deporting them.

EB: Aren't you contradicting yourself then? If these businesses would close, then you can't deport them. If you can't deport them, then they don't have to follow the law. So I repeat, what incentive is there for illegal aliens to follow the law?

Bhakta: Well, here is the thing. They can be deported and we can bring in other workers, say from India for example - who will pay for the chance - to come here and work. This way, not only do we solve the problem of illegal immigrants who refuse to follow the law, we can bring in legal immigrants and earn revenue for the government besides.

This way, businesses will continue to function. The loss of workers that they got from illegal immigrants won't matter. The illegal immigrants now have an incentive to follow the law because there will be consequences if they don't, the government can bring in legal workers on worker visas so we don't have to worry about terrorists streaming across our borders, and the government can earn revenue to pay for the costs.

EB: What about the war in Iraq? What should we do?

Bhakta: I am very familiar with that part of the world. Promoting democracy is a noble goal. However, I do not think that the American people have the will to make the sacrifices necessary to do accomplish that.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You did a hack of a job on the Glenn Beck show this evening! ;-)

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