Did you know Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democrat representing Wisconsin’s fourth Congressional district, has a Democratic challenger for the seat she holds? If you didn’t, you’re not alone; until very recently, I wasn’t aware Rep. Moore had a Democratic challenger either.
Paul Morel is that challenger, and I recently had a chance to sit down with Morel and chat with him to not only find out his background, but more importantly to find out why he’s chosen to run as a Democrat against a sitting Democratic incumbent in Rep. Gwen Moore. My conversation with Morel started with him noting that reaction to his campaign has been “pretty positive” so far, but he added a lot of people are asking him why he’s running as a Democrat against Rep. Moore.
When I asked Morel to explain his decision to challenge a sitting incumbent from his own party, Morel noted he decided to run because he doesn’t think Rep. Moore has taken the fourth district in the right direction. “People know something’s wrong,” he added, and he noted and that’s not exclusive to Democrats or Republicans, because both parties have failed to deliver on the issues that matter to citizens. Morel noted he thinks the Rep. Moore needs a change of priorities, because her priorities don’t seem to be aligned with the priorities of the citizens living in the fourth Congressional district. As an example, Morel cited Rep. Moore’s belief in simply throwing more money into education, instead of trying something different. Morel noted Rep. Moore is fond of saying, “no child left a dime” when referring to how to best address the issue of education, and he added that when it comes to education there are proven ideas on how to fix what ails under-performing school districts – such as Milwaukee Public Schools – there are ideas that have worked elsewhere, but instead of using those ideas, money is being thrown at new ideas in hopes of finding a silver bullet.
As our conversation continued, Morel noted that another reason he decided to run against Rep. Moore had to do with his belief that our elected officials need a serious fiscal plan – not just more talk without a lot of action – and in his opinion Rep. Moore has no take on fiscal issues. Morel was quick to note Rep. Moore has been a good advocate on social issues, but social issues simply aren’t a priority right now; people in the fourth Congressional district are asking about jobs and the economy, and Rep. Moore simply doesn’t have a good plan.
After discussing why he decided to run for office, my conversation with Morel turned to his positions on specific issues, with the first of those issues being taxes. Prior to meeting Morel, I had an opportunity to visit his campaign website, where I couldn’t help but notice he was proposing a rather untraditional tax reform plan that focused on taxing consumption rather than income. Asked about his tax plan, Morel was quick to note “our tax plan is too complex.” He added that we think we have a progressive tax plan, but because of all the loopholes in our current tax system, the richest among us don’t really pay their fair share of taxes. Instead what we end up with is a curve that results in the middle class paying more in taxes (as a percentage of their income) than those in the lower and upper classes. What Morel’s proposing as his tax plan is a flat tax on consumption, exempting only essential consumption such as housing, food, medical expenses, etc. Morel added his plan is based on the idea that the more you make, the more you spend, and therefore individuals in lower income brackets won’t pay a disproportionate share of taxes as a percentage of their income.
Our conversation next turned to earmarks, with Morel noting he objects to earmarks. Despite his objection to but given that’s the system Congress operates under, he’d be crazy not to use that system for the benefit of the taxpayers he’d be representing, noting that money that’s paid out by taxpayers in the district should be brought back to the district. However, Morel was quick to note he supported changing the current system of earmarks, adding he’d vote in favor of earmark reform.
In talking about the stimulus enacted by Congress and President Obama, Morel noted some are advocating for more money for another stimulus, but where’s the money going to go? Big businesses have been getting the bulk of stimulus money, but small businesses deserve their fair share as well, as small businesses are the engine that drives our economy. He also added that if elected, he’d want to see more money go directly to small businesses, and he’d also work to make it easier and cheaper for small businesses to hire new workers, both through lower taxes and through reduced regulation and red tape.
As our conversation turned to the issue of health care reform, Morel made it clear he would have done health care reform differently, taking more of a free market approach. He noted that health care reform as passed by Congress will create too much bureaucracy while failing to reduce the cost of health care, as legislators cobbled together a bunch of ideas that are unsustainable, so the bill that passed will require “tweaking” in the future to make it more sustainable. He added it will be the duty of the next Congress to make health care reform more sustainable and affordable so that it doesn’t disappear when the money runs out, and he added he’d like to be a part of that process.