The following was submitted by Congressman Charles Boustany:
Name, party affiliation: Dr. Charles Boustany Jr., Republican, Lafayette
Educational background and experience: University of Southwestern Louisiana – (now the University of Louisiana Lafayette), and Louisiana State University School of Medicine
What do you think has contributed to the nation's current fiscal situation? What kind of solutions do you propose?
There has been a lot of debate during this campaign about what Congress should do in the "lame duck" session, particularly given the rising concern of the quickly approaching tax and fiscal cliff. We have less than two months to prevent the potentially crippling automatic spending cuts and tax increases colliding at the end of this year.
Inaction is irresponsible. By doing nothing, American families will see their tax bills increase, with income and payroll taxes climbing, tax credit and deduction a reduction in earning from investment. A recent report estimated that the average family would see its tax bill go up $3,500 and its after-tax income drop 6.2 percent.
Congress must address budget reforms to reign in spending, cut waste and tackle the growth of key entitlement programs that pose our government's greatest fiscal challenge. We must address the problem in order to prevent catastrophic economic damage.
Reforming our tax code is a necessary first step. The average American is over taxed and the system has grown so complex that most people need an accountant to file even the simplest returns. It shouldn't be that way.
What are your ideas on improving healthcare in America?
My top priority is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common-sense solutions protecting individual liberty. Real health reform must reduce costs, improve quality and protect patients' access to needed care. Unfortunately, Obamacare does the opposite. I supported legislation leading to lower premiums, according to the Congressional Budget Office – without raising taxes, jeopardizing seniors' access to Medicare providers or forcing people to buy expensive Washington-approved coverage.
To lower premiums, Americans need a wider range of choices. We should allow Americans to purchase health coverage across state lines, and let small businesses pool together to negotiate discounts. We should also make it easier for all Americans to use tax-free health savings accounts and have more control over their health care.
As a physician, I've seen many quality improvements lower costs. My proposals would help patients avoid unnecessary re-hospitalizations and allow doctors to work with hospitals to improve patient care. I've also fought to address wasteful spending caused by defensive medicine and worked to help physicians improve performance using clinical data registries.
What about education?
Louisiana students deserve access to a high-quality education so they can lead in today's global economy. I will continue working with local leaders, teachers and parents to improve opportunities for our children. The federal government must reduce regulations on states and local communities and give them more flexibility to innovate.
Congress needs to make it easier for Louisiana schools to attract and reward teachers who motivate and produce results. As a former Member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, I also have been a strong advocate of charter schools and other options for parents to find a school that best meets a child's needs.
What are your ideas on stimulating job growth in Southwest Louisiana?
South Louisiana job creators continue to tell me the biggest issues impeding economic growth are taxes and regulations coming out of Washington. Small business owners anxiously wait for Congress to address the tax impact of the impending tax and fiscal cliff facing our nation. If we fail to act now, almost every tax cut enacted since 2001 will expire at the end of 2012. The fiscal cliff will increase taxes for 95% of all U.S. businesses, impacting thousands of South Louisiana small employers. I voted to stay and work to resolve this impending economic disaster. Jeff Landry voted campaign and leave work unfinished. Real reforms require leaders to stay until the work is complete.
The tax code must fundamentally be rewritten to be simpler, fairer and more competitive for American businesses to create jobs at home. South Louisiana businesses are spending too much time dealing with paperwork and administrative burdens preventing them from doing what they do best – create jobs.
What specific issues would be high priorities for you if you were elected to Congress?