Interview With Jim Parker

At Tuesday night’s meeting, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Jim Parker and discussed his campaign for Congress in Ohio’s 2nd District.

DL: What is your favorite drink?
JP: “I guess I will have to say Heineken, it’s a favorite of the Kennedy White House.”

DL: You have spent the majority of your life working in healthcare. What can be done to make sure that every American has access to affordable healthcare?
JP: “We have very serious problems with the American healthcare system right now. First of all, the President of the United States has put forth a plan that amounts to no more than medical savings accounts. All that is, is a high deductible, extremely high out of pocket plan for every middle class American. The only people I know who have those plans who can actually afford them are doctors and lawyers. It’s a problem because what’s going to happen is when people have this high amount that they owe, especially senior citizens, the first thing they’re going to do is if your parents call you or your grandparents would call and need money for their medicine or their doctor or for their hospital bill, you’re going to give it to them. So what’s going to happen is as Medicare deteriorates under the Bush Administration, which it is because they are giving it away to private insurance companies, every middle class family in America is going to be burdened with out of pocket healthcare costs to take care of the elderly in addition to themselves and in addition to their children. It’s a reckless plan. One of the things that is happening in America right now is that you can walk into a Wal-Mart and sit down at an insurance company’s booth and if you’re a Medicare patient and you sign on the dotted line, you sign your way right out of traditional Medicare into a commercial insurance product. Now, what’s disturbing about this is a lot of patients who do that don’t realize that they gave up Medicare and go into what is know as the Medicare Advantage Plan. The thing that is real troubling about the Medicare Advantage Plan is that the Federal Government pays health insurance companies between $900 and $2,000 for every Medicare recipient they can get to sign out of Medicare and into the Medicare Advantage Plan.” “They’re charging record high prices, increase their rates 15 to 30 percent for every business in America year after year after year and they give you less. They raise the deductibles, they take the medications out of the formulary, they create a whole bureaucratic set of rules.” “The problem with the President of the United States is that in a State of the Union address earlier this year, he put forth a commission to look into how we are going to save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.” “The problem is that he waited 5 years to do it, 5 years into his term. If I was elected, within 5 minutes I would have put that committee together. That’s the most important economic decision in this century.” “We need to take a look at our children. Not only do we have 46 million people in this country without health insurance, that number was 31 million 5 years ago. That has gone up by 5 million people in 5 years, that’s 1 out of every 6 people and we also have 8 million children who don’t have health insurance. When Howard Dean was the Governor of Vermont, he managed to be able to provide health insurance for every child in the state of Vermont. If Howard Dean can do that as Governor of Vermont, there’s no reason we can’t do that for every child in the United States of America. We can create a network of schools, health departments, community action committees, and all kinds of local healthcare facilities to try to create a network where we get children where they are at school and provide some basic, preventive, primary level of care.” “I asked Jean Schmidt about health insurance for every child in the United States and I asked her do you favor that and she said no. Frankly, I don’t think that I will ever stop running against her until we get this problem solved.”

DL: What are your ideas for fixing our broken economy?
JP: “One of the first things I want to say, and this is important because this is one of the issues that really hurt Paul Hackett in the last election, I’m the only Democrat who will not raise taxes. I was the only one in the last election who wouldn’t raise taxes and I’m the only one in this one that has economic proposals to not raise taxes. Let me explain that. They ran a commercial against Paul where they showed that he has a plan to raise taxes on Medicare and Social Security, and they ran that commercial in Hamilton, Clermont, and Warren Counties and those were the 3 counties that he lost. I put forth a plan to stimulate economic growth and help every business in America with the cost of healthcare. That is to expand the Medicare program, and the Bush administration right now is trying to take the Medicare program and give it to the insurance companies. My idea is let’s expand the Medicare program to cover 20 million baby boomers. Let’s expand Medicare from age 65 down to age 55 without raising taxes. Let’s allow every business in America to offer their health insurance for their employees directly from Medicare without creating an additional program, without raising taxes, and they can buy it cheaper than they can from any promotional health insurance company. We just took the profit out of healthcare and took the insurance companies out of the middle.” “If we can get a handle on that issue and solve those problems, we just helped the middle class, the baby boomers, the young generation, every small business in America.” “I shook hands with a man about 8:30 one night when I was knocking on doors and he looked me right in the eye and he told me two things – one thing he told me was that he lives in a barn, and the second thing he told me was that he never got a paycheck from a poor man. So, we have to be able to have somebody, without raising taxes, put together a good economic stimulus ideas to be able to stimulate the economy. What China is doing to the American economy with its 200 billion dollar trade deficit, it’s a crime. The average wage in China is $2,000 a year. That’s a serious problem that we have to contend with. We have to have a candidate who will stand up not only for organized labor, but for small family businesses.” “What do you do if you want to help businesses create jobs? You have to look at what’s causing them the most difficulty and really the answer is the cost of healthcare is causing them more difficulty than anything.”

DL: What are your thoughts about bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan?
JP: “Osama bin Laden was in Afghanistan, he was not in Iraq. Iraq is George Bush’s war, he created this war and it’s become a $440 billion war that will triple in costs when you factor in the costs of what it’s going to take to care for wounded American soldiers who come home and have to spend the rest of their lives incapacitated just like the families of doors that I knock on in Clermont county and I come across the neighbor of an American soldier who might never walk again, who is injured for life, or I’m walking through a parking lot and introducing myself to people and a guy hands me a pin and he says, “Do you know who this is?” and I say, “Yea, that’s Matt Maupin” and it was Matt Maupin’s dad and I met him in a parking lot of a grocery store in Batavia. It was the saddest moment in this entire campaign because I was looking right in the eyes of a man who’s lost his son in this war and wants to believe he’s alive and nobody knows. You hope that he is. It’s been two years. On the day Jack Murtha announced his exit strategy for Iraq to the perimeter, he claimed that the American forces have become the target of the insurgency, that our troops have done their work, they need to withdraw to the perimeter because most of the violence that is occurring is occurring because we’re there. On the day that he made that announcement, this is the day before Jean Schmidt had her meltdown on the United States House of Representatives floor. On the day that he made that announcement I sent a press release to every newspaper in Southern Ohio stating that I am Jim Parker and I support Jack Murtha’s plan. I took a stance on the war in the very beginning before Jean Schmidt ever went out on the floor and embarrassed all of Southern Ohio.” “I’ll tell you about Afghanistan, we went there to free the Afghan people and to hunt down the Taliban. Afghanistan back in August, maybe September had the first parliamentary elections and the people of Afghanistan elected to the Parliament former warlords and former members of the Taliban. So my question is what is it that our American troops are dying for if the very people that we went there to fight are now becoming part of the government that has been established? Everybody should be angry about this.” “And now we have the President of the United States talking about nuclear weapons. If that doesn’t scare the living daylights out of everybody, what does?”

DL: What can be done to curb the record profits from oil companies?
JP: “It’s not only oil companies, it’s the prescription drug companies, health insurance companies, and even worse yet, Halliburton had a record high $1.1 billion dollar profit last year the highest in it’s 86 year history. When World War II was over, when they invaded Hitler’s bunker, World War II was over. We fish Saddam Hussein out of a hole and it should have become the end of this war. The President of the United States doesn’t have any interest whatsoever in lowering the cost of oil. He is an oil executive, so is Dick Cheney.” “One year ago when I ran in the special election, I sent a letter to the President of the United States of America and I said I want you to offer a $1 million prize to any man, woman, or child in the United States of America who can develop any type of engine that gets 100 miles to a gallon. We can put a man on the moon but we can’t a car that gets 100 miles to a gallon? That was before the price of gas was ever $3.00. After I lost the primary and I supported Paul Hackett, Paul Hackett was running against Jean Schmidt in the general election. I sent an email out to the Hackett campaign and the Schmidt campaign at the same time and I wanted to know what they were going to do.” “Paul Hackett that very morning held a press conference at a Shell station to protest the fact that Jean Schmidt voted for a six-cent increase in the gas tax when she was in the state house of representatives. Jean Schmidt waited about a month and when she finally sent me an email back, it was that she supported the President’s energy bill.” “I wonder if anybody in this campaign has received a $1,000 donation from Exxon before they were elected? Maybe you should check it out for yourself on the FEC website. One of the very first things she did was vote for the President’s energy bill which was nothing more than the single greatest tax break for the oil companies since the invention of the automobile.” “We need to get together a coalition of representatives in the United States House of Representatives, people who represent the middle class, the baby boom generation, people who come from districts where people are struggling, and we need to write a bill that will require the oil companies to give some of those profits back and put it into funding for alternative energy research. We need to free ourselves from the dependence on foreign oil and do more than pay lip service to it like the President does and we need to get the job done.”

DL: Final thoughts?
JP: “I think I pretty much said it all. I don’t write speeches, I speak from the heart. This has been a very emotional and exhausting seven and a half months. There are days that I can hardly stay awake, I have driven so many miles, and I sleep at rest stops.” “Even tonight, I am not going to be able to make it home all the way. I have already driven 200 miles today and I’m 100 miles from home.” “We have to present the Republicans in Southern Ohio with a Democrat that can walk up to Republican households and ask them to vote for them and get them to do that. The reason is there are 3 Republicans for every 1 Democrat in this district and if we don’t give them somebody that they can look at that they understand the economy and he understands healthcare and I’m having problems with healthcare and so is my family. Those are the things that are going through their minds.” “I work about 10 hours a day at my office and then I go out and ask people to believe in me.”

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