Star Tribune: Angie Craig is the pragmatic choice in Second District House race

TOPICS: In the News

Her business and personal background make her a hard-nosed candidate who isn't hardhearted. 

 

In a Second Congressional District rematch, Democrat Angie Craig is the best candidate to represent a changing area, and her strong background in health care and business would make her an invaluable addition to Congress.

Craig, 46, brings a perspective to other vital issues that is both empathetic and pragmatic. That comes from a life experience of both stretching household money to meet bills and holding down expenses to meet a payroll. The result is a candidate who can be hard-nosed without being hardhearted. In her second run at this district, Craig continues to push for what is achievable. Her 20 years working in health care manufacturing, including overseeing employer health plans in multiple countries, have allowed her to see what works and what doesn’t. She knows how to find efficiencies and reforms that can hold down costs without compromising patient care, with a middle-of-the-road approach that emphasizes fixes to the Affordable Care Act and a Medicare buy-in as an option in a private marketplace.

Craig says she’s learned the value of listening in her second run, and it shows. She appears more grounded in the everyday concerns of Minnesotans in a district that continues to tilt more urban and suburban. There are fewer farmers and more workers in manufacturing, retail, health care, food services and finance. They know the need for better education and technical skills to keep pace with shifting markets. Nearly one in five residents there depend on Social Security, either for retirement, disability or survivor benefits, and more are in the pipeline as the state’s population ages.

Republican Rep. Jason Lewis, 63, who narrowly bested Craig in 2016, has done some good bipartisan work on criminal justice, but on too many important issues he remains aligned with the Trump agenda. He voted for the Republican tax bill that has sent the federal deficit soaring. It has had some benefits, but too few in Minnesota, where hundreds of thousands of average taxpayers may pay more in state taxes because of new limits on federal deductions. GOP leaders are using the mounting deficit to push cuts in Social Security and Medicare. Lewis, meanwhile, advocated across-the-board spending cuts both in the 2016 race and now, pledged to protect Social Security and Medicare for those approaching retirement age and supported a second round of House tax cuts that would make permanent the temporary individual cuts in the tax bill. That last is a costly change that could add $2 trillion to the deficit. It remains to be seen how he could follow through on all three.

On health care, Lewis voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with its strong protections for pre-existing conditions, and supported a Republican version that would weaken those protections. He opposes universal background checks and other gun measures that have wide public support. Sadly, he continues to hammer at immigration with rhetoric that does a disservice to the tens of thousands of immigrants and refugees who live in his district.

Craig favors enhanced border security, but rather than a wall would make better use of technology and other, more flexible resources. She’s a gun club member and supports common-sense gun safety measures such as full background checks. Her proposal to provide students with two years of postsecondary education — whether technical, vocational or college — could help Minnesotans gain needed skills without bankrupting themselves in the process.

Most importantly, Craig maintains a reasonableness and a respectful, intelligent, no-drama approach that could help turn the temperature down in a Congress beset by heated rhetoric and gamesmanship.

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