U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton says he will focus on issues important to his district and not the fireworks emerging from the White House if re-elected for a fifth term.
Staying away from the political drama unfolding in the White House is a pre-Donald Trump practice, Tipton said in a meeting with The Durango Herald editorial board Monday.
“I didn’t comment on everything (President Barack) Obama did, much to the dismay of people in my own party,” said Tipton, who represents the 3rd Congressional District.
Speaking of Trump, Tipton says he disagrees with some of his policy on tariffs, and he wishes the president would drop his Twitter account.
“He needs to be thoughtful,” Tipton said. “But we elected a very unconventional president. He’s not a politician.”
Tariffs have pinched EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel in Pueblo, and Trump said he has spoken with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross about accelerating exemptions to tariffs that would benefit Russian-owned EVRAZ.
He described his effort as “a matter of incremental policy adjustments.”
But on the whole, the Cortez Republican is pleased with the tax cuts and deregulatory efforts coming from the Trump administration.
“Why would you vote against empowering people with their own money?” he said of opponents of the Republican- and Trump-backed tax cuts passed earlier this year.
He credits the tax cuts for pushing the latest quarter’s gross-domestic product growth to 4.2 percent and with increasing the number of people re-entering the labor market because of the brightening employment picture.
Instead of focusing on the daily controversy in Washington, Tipton said his energy is focused on legislative efforts he sees as beneficial to his district.
Gaining House passage of the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017, which allows the U.S. Forest Service to enact management plans to include grazing and commercial forest thinning, is more important than dealing with daily tweet storms, Tipton said.
While environmentalists are often opposed to his efforts, Tipton said he views policies he backs as beneficial to the environment.
“I will always contend some of the best custodians of our land are our farmers and ranchers. They’ve cleared land of noxious weeds,” he said. “Come out with me and visit ranchers. They are the last ones who want to overgraze.”
Simply introducing his Water Rights Protection Act of 2017, he said, has led the Forest Service to back off a proposed policy that would have required permit holders on Forest Service land to sign over water rights to the agency.
It is behind-the-scenes efforts, Tipton said, where he thinks his efforts will produce the best results for the Western Slope.
Health care insurance and its increasing cost is a national issue that also hits the 3rd Congressional District.
Tipton said the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, failed to deliver on the promises Democrats made when it was passed and has proved financially unworkable.
“We were promised it would lower premiums $2,500 a year. We were promised you could keep your doctors. We were promised you could keep your insurance. None of that was true,” he said.
Tipton said ACA requirements have made insurance so pricey that many people, especially young adults, can’t afford policies.
“Under the ACA, every plan must include everything. But people should have a choice for a policy that works for them,” he said.
Creating a single-payer system, similar to what his opponent Diane Mitsch Bush supports, he said, would cost the country $32 trillion over 10 years and crowd out funding for virtually everything else from roads and public safety to the military.
Mitsch Bush said she supports the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act introduced by John Conyers, D-Mich., but with an amendment to support better health care in rural areas.
She also would support efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, and she would provide more funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“Scott Tipton voted 56 times to replace the ACA with no replacement plan,” Mitsch Bush said. “His record on this really hurts the people of this district.”
Ultimately, Mitsch Bush said, improved health insurance will require Democrats to gain control of the White House and the U.S. House of Representatives, and that is what is driving her run to unseat Tipton.