SUNBURY — Advocating for a single-payer healthcare system, sensible changes in gun laws, and a minimum wage of $15 an hour, Democratic hopeful Marc Friedenberg, vying to be his party’s Congressional District 12 nominee, made a case for “government as a force for good,” in a Monday Daily Item editorial board meeting.
Friedenberg, who teaches at Penn State University and lives in State College, said he got into the race because “we have a system of government that has been broken for a while. It’s not something that has just happened in 2016, it has been going on for three or four decades.” Friedenberg hadn’t intended to run for Congress, he said, but after the Muslim ban, after the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, he decided to jump into the newly redrawn 12th Congressional District — he had been in CD 5.
“I had announced for the Fifth District, but the changes were good for Pennsylvanians and made the districts more competitive,” he said.
Friedenberg believes in Medicare for all. “It would replace the Affordable Care Act. It was a step in the right direction and helped millions of people, but the ACA was too complicated and vilified from early on to the point where it is pretty much a toxic brand now for a lot of people. I’m proposing medicare the coverage for every American.”
He believes it would free up the economy because people wouldn’t be tied to their jobs “because of the healthcare situation. And be free to move around to a job that best suits them. As the single payer Medicare would have the power to negotiate costs.”
The system would be paid through federal revenues, income and corporate taxes. He thinks income taxes would not have to be raised.
About the opioid problem, Friedenberg said he would approach it first by putting out the message that opioid addiction is not a moral failing. People who have the problem shouldn’t’ be ashamed to seek out help. It is a public health epidemic.”
One solution would be medically assisted treatment, he said, as is long-term counseling. “Those treatments would require significant federal investment.”
He is against arming teachers with guns, and believes the tighter gun laws would help keep guns away from those with mental illness.
Friedenberg believes that a minimum wage of $15 would be a vast improvement on the current federal wage of $7.25 an hour, “which can’t sustain a family. You can’t live on that.”
Bringing broadband to the district is imperative, he said and would help bring businesses to the area. He also advocates for anti-trust enforcement, making sure there is competition if you are wired up already.
Should Friedenberg win next week’s Democratic primary — would be either incumbent Tom Marino or Doug McLinko, both conservative Republicans.