Moving past the election

Moolenaar shares thoughts on national policies

BIG RAPIDS — On a swing through Mecosta County on Friday, U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, took a small break from campaigning to sit down and discuss non-election related issues with the Pioneer.

Moolenaar spoke on efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, federal regulation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The first-term Congressman said he would like to see the repeal of the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare.

“Since I have been there, we have actually put the repeal of Obamacare on the president’s desk, and of course, he did not support that,” Moolenaar said. “I believe Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight. Premiums are going through the roof and the deductibles are skyrocketing. People were promised they could choose what insurance plan they wanted, keep the doctor they wanted, and that has not been the case.”

Moolenaar also noted, employees losing hours and employers seeing their taxes going UP is an indication the law should be repealed.

“It’s not been working well,” he said. “More and more insurers are leaving the exchange ... rather than building on a foundation that is cracked and faulty and collapsing, we’ve got to start fresh and learn from the last few years of this experiment. We need to build a system that is patient-centered, that brings costs of health care down by encouraging competition across state lines, and allows patients to choose the health care they need rather than the cookie-cutter approach and allows flexibility in letting them choose their doctor.”

Moolenaar said The Better Way Agenda, currently being worked on by members of the House GOP, includes a replacement for the health care law.

“No matter who is president in the next term we will have an agenda that reforms health care, has tax reforms that brings dollars back to businesses by not penalizing them for investing and fights back against regulatory overreach.”

That overreach, Moolenaar explained, also has an adverse affect on agriculture in the state of Michigan.

“I’ve supported legislation to repeal the Waters of the U.S. overreach by the EPA that would regulate the mud puddles on farmers’ property,” he said. “I find it disconcerting. At the same time they’re working on this new expanding role of the EPA, they’re not actively addressing some of the other problems there. They dropped the ball in Flint, and Asian Carp is getting closer and closer. There’s plenty of work for them to do rather than worrying about standing water.”

Regarding another agricultural issue, the regulation of pesticides and GMOs, Moolenaar said it is important to have more advancement in biotechnology and science to support and benefit farmers.

“I want to make sure our policy is based on good science,” said the former chemist with Dow Chemical. “Some regulators are concerned about EPA overstepping, and whether they are basing decisions on a good science.”

Once crops and livestock are harvested, providing a place to sell also is important.

“Agriculture in Michigan needs access to markets, both here in this country and overseas,” he said. “Going forward, it will be important to see how can we continue to expand opportunities for farmers, manufacturers and people who sell into a global economy to make sure that the countries we are trading with are treating us fairly and our products fairly. There’s work to be done in that area.”

Moolenar still hasn’t come to a decision on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. The 12-nation agreement creates rules for global trade among member countries, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Included in the agreement are measures to lower non-tariff and tariff barriers to trade, while establishing an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.

“I have been wanting to see the final version of the TPP, because I, in general, support free and fair trade,” he said. “I have several concerns with the TPP as it has been negotiated.”

There is continuing work being done on the multi-national trade deal, Moolenaar said, but he won’t make a decision until there is an orderly and fair process for Michigan products to compete in markets abroad, and he’s assured the U.S. has some authority in creating the guidelines.

“We have to make sure that we get a good final product for TPP, but at the same time, we realize we don’t want to be in No Man’s Land where China is setting the rules,” he said.

Moolenaar is in no rush to approve a deal that is not in the best interests of his constituents.

“I have taken a lot of time to look at this,” he said. “We have had hearings, but I have not gotten to the point where I would support it.”