Providing accessibility to the “American dream” is the focus of Republican nominee Ed Gillespie’s Senate campaign.
Gillespie, 53, addressed Virginia Commonwealth University students on Monday and highlighted his plans for economic growth.
“Too many hard working Virginians are feeling squeezed between lost jobs, stagnant wages, reduced working hours, and higher prices for healthcare, energy, college, food…the right policies would ease the squeeze,” he said.
The 30-minute long address and question-and-answer session with Gillespie was co-sponsored by VCU’s Robertson School of Media and Culture and The Society of Professional Journalists and organized by Mass Communications professor Jacob Geiger.
Gillespie presented his five-point agenda to provide more opportunities for Virginians. The first item was his plan to replace The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, with a more affordable option that put patients first.
“In the commonwealth of Virginia, 250,000 of us would lose our insurance this year due to restrictions, regulations, and mandates in the Affordable Care Act,” Gillespie said.
When asked, Gillespie gave specifics on his own proposal which included age-based refundable tax credits and provide protections for those with preexisting conditions so they could not be denied insurance. He mentioned that the Affordable Care Act is estimated to cost $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years. Gillespie said his proposal would save tax payers $1 trillion.
He also discussed his second goal, which is to provide tax and regulatory relief. Gillespie mentioned that America had the highest corporate tax rate in the world, which is “driving American jobs and investment in companies oversees.”
The next three points in his agenda included harnessing American energy production, reforming the education system and taking control of federal spending to reduce the deficit.
When asked about raising the minimum wage, Gillespie said that he supported the current wage but offered an alternative work incentive tax credit, which would be like an additional check coming in to support minimum wage earners.
“The Congressional Budget Office says that a federally mandated increase in minimum wage to $10.10 would destroy between half a million and 1 million jobs. There are better ways to help the working poor than to have the working poor become the unemployed poor,” Gillespie said.
In response to a question about how his lobbyist background would affect his legislative approach, Gillespie brought focus to his bipartisan experience in the White House and private sector and his willingness to cross party lines.
“I will a have very simple test for every vote I cast in the United States Senate…will this bill ease the squeeze on hardworking Virginians and if it doesn’t, I won’t vote for it,” he said. “I don’t care whose bill it is.”
Gillespie is running against the Democratic Party incumbent, Mark Warner, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis. Warner took the Senate office in January. 2009.
Gillespie shared that reforming student loan repayments to reflect income to ease the ability for college graduates to repay student loans was a point of agreement between himself and Sen. Mark Warner.
In his opening remarks, Gillespie shared an account about being the descendant of Irish immigrants and the first generation in his family to go to college and working his way through school. One of his first jobs was as Senate parking lot attendant.
“To go from immigrant janitor to west wing of the White House in two generations time is the American dream and I want to make sure that everyone has that kind of opportunity.”