Published in the Keene Sentinel on October 21, 2012.
Anyone following the rematch between 2nd Congressional District foes U.S. Rep. Charles Bass, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Ann McLane Kuster knows this is a heated race, in an intensely polarized national political landscape.
At times, this race — which Bass and Kuster previously ran against each other in 2010 — has made headlines more for its squabbles over campaign contributions and borderline-silly attack ads (take the “Dancing Annie” commercials and a Bass fish ad, for example) than the substance of the two candidates’ starkly opposing views on most issues. The personal, and at times petty tone is unfortunate, given that these are two respectable and otherwise serious contenders vying to represent New Hampshire in the halls of Congress.
On most issues, notably the future of Medicare and taxes, voters are faced with two very different choices. Kuster supports reforming the Medicare system by changing the financially inexpedient way care is paid for under the health insurance plan for seniors, while Bass has voiced consideration for a proposal known as “premium support” that could otherwise be described as a voucher system, giving seniors money to shop for health care in the private market. Meanwhile, Bass wants to continue with the failed idea that keeping taxes low for the wealthiest will eventually spur economic recovery, while Kuster supports ending tax cuts for the richest Americans to help restore a thriving middle class. Only a couple issues find Kuster and Bass in similar positions: both support an accelerated timetable to get United States troops out of Afghanistan before the current 2014 deadline, and both favor developing alternative energy.
It is the wide gulf between the policy agendas of the two candidates that most heavily influenced our decision to endorse Ann McLane Kuster for the 2nd District post.
Kuster will stand in Washington as a compassionate force for sensible policies rooted in a deep understanding of the issues facing Americans today. Unlike lawmakers who have focused their agendas on which pieces of legislation they will block, Kuster understands that Congress must act to bring progress and that is best done when both sides can find common ground. An adoption attorney who also runs a consulting business for nonprofit organizations, Kuster has made health care, tax reform and education the pillars of her platform. She’s said she’ll push for changing the health care delivery system to emphasize prevention and provider collaboration, which will make Americans healthier while also reducing the cost of health care. To help families deal with the rising cost of higher education, Kuster supports growing the Pell Grant program that offers assistance to low-income students, keeping for-profit companies out of the federal loan system and increasing programs that help families put aside money for college, tax-free.