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Interview with Patty Weiss, Democratic candidate for Arizona Congressional District 8

By Larry Sakin  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)     Permalink
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In 1985, a Tucsonan named Jim Kolbe claimed a stake in Arizona history, being the first Republican elected to serve Southern Arizona in the US House of Representatives. Kolbe 's incumbency has been challenged a number of times by Democrats since then, but Kolbe 's resiliency prevailed through eleven terms. When Kolbe announced his retirement in December 2005, a number of Democrats announced their intentions to change history in the district again, and take the seat back for the opposition party.

One of those candidates is former local television journalist Patty Weiss, who for thirty years was a trusted news anchor at NBC affiliate KVOA-TV. Through those years, Weiss developed a deep understanding of the issues facing Southern Arizonans and committed herself to a number of service-related projects that offer succor to diverse elements of the community. Weiss ' experiences as journalist and activist focused her on pragmatic solutions and decision making on problems that are affecting Congressional District 8 and the country at large.

One of the vital issues facing America today is healthcare. Premiums have skyrocketed and 43 million citizens have no medical insurance. Millions more have found themselves stuck in the gap between ineligibility for state Medicaid programs and draconian deductibles built in to private insurance. "Americans needs universal healthcare. We 're the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn 't provide some kind of government health assistance for workers " said Weiss. "It would be fairly easy to implement a program that operates in a similar manner as good old Medicare A, which offers an 80/20 plan to the retired with a two percent overhead. A nationalized healthcare system could work extremely well, covering basic and catastrophic patient needs. Payments could be made through paychecks; much like Medicare A is taken out of Social Security. For people who are underemployed or working in the minimum wage range, a sliding scale can be used so those people will have access to health care for themselves and their family. "

Weiss believes that keeping medical care under the rubric of private insurance foolish, as it "damages our ability to be competitive in the global marketplace. " Weiss says even with a nationalized health care system in place, private insurers will still be able to generate revenue. "People will always have a need for supplemental insurance, that 's just common sense. But to allow private insurers complete control of health management is dangerous to our employers, workers and economy. "

Weiss also understands the relationship between the national economy and the immigration debate. "Immigration is a federal responsibility, and the federal government abdicated that responsibility years ago. State legislatures, especially Arizona 's, are frustrated and angry over the fed 's complete lack of policy on immigration. " Weiss wants the US to take charge of immigration again and be realistic about the role undocumented workers play in the American economy. "As long as the fed is too afraid to sanction employers who are hiring the undocumented, more people will cross the border. American business says they needs to hire 400,000 immigrants a year " Weiss says, "and they 'll continue hiring those people until the fed has a policy that truly maintains the border, gives citizenship rights to those workers already here, and cracks down on businesses that continue their hiring practices. "

Weiss is also concerned about the role of Arizona agribusiness. "Agribusinesses are going across the Mexican border selling corn cheaply. This has been going on for years, and it has put thousands of Mexican farmers out of work. Those Mexican farmers are among the thousands who cross into the US every year looking for a way to support their families. " Weiss thinks that if the US really wanted to solve the immigration problem, they 'd prevent American agribusiness from undercutting Mexican trade, a subject neither state or federal lawmakers address. "Once the fed has a realistic immigration policy, the states will back off " she says "and will take care of a lot of the vindictive state bills which call for sanctions on government workers, educational institutions and landlords who are open to providing for immigrant workers. "
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The foreign policy of the US also concerns Weiss. "President Bush as the lone ranger doesn 't work. Its costs too much in blood and money " Weiss said. "We need a multi-lateral approach in dealing with Iran and Iraq. " Weiss thinks the US has blown whatever chance it had in creating a diplomatic solution for the myriad problems in the Middle East. "We need the few Arab and Muslim allies we have left to work in creating accords with both countries. In Iraq, as long as a disparity exists in revenue sharing of oil profits between the Kurds, Shia and Sunni, there is going to be conflict. There 's nothing we can do about the ethnic, tribal and religious differences, and our troops are inflaming the problems there and putting Iraqi lives and the fragile government at risk. The US needs to appeal to our allies in the area to bring about compromises between the factions, regardless of whether Iraq remains one country or federalizes into three. "

Weiss also feels that President Bush 's saber rattling with Iran is causing more problems for both the US and Iran. "Iran depends on oil sales to Russia, China and Japan. Hinting at military action makes Iran 's trading partners nervous and makes the oil markets extremely nervous. This is one of the reasons we 're seeing high prices at the gas pumps. If the markets get an indication that supplies might be further curtailed, they drive the price up. " Again, Weiss believes that the US must find ways to encourage regional allies to subdue Iran 's fear of an imminent US attack. "What Bush doesn 't get is his unilateralist bullying is lining the pockets of every tin horn dictator with cricket pumps in their back yards. In the process, we 're handing them more and more control over foreign oil markets. That 's not a policy Americans can live with. "

Larry Sakin is a former music executive and medical non-profit administrator. He has published a number of articles in both fields and is currently writing a book about coping with loss. More of his work can be found on www.blogcritics.org, www.changeforamerica.com, and Charlotte 's Other Web.
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