Wednesday, August 25

Diane Tebelius (R WA-8th CD)

Diane Tebelius wants to continue retiring Republican Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn’s legacy, saying that Dunn gave the 8th Congressional District great leadership. The current Washington State Republican Party’s National Committeewoman says the most important undiscussed issue in the race is that a Congressional seat is not a local or state office, but a federal job. She believes that her experience as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as a U.S. Trustee watching for abuse in bankruptcy courts gives her a good background for working in Congress.

Tebelius also points out that she’s the only former teacher running for the seat. The job of teacher is, she says, the most difficult job. She says education is one of the most important issues in her platform, and that succeeding in today’s world requires a good education. But she says that improving education isn’t about money, it’s mostly about good teachers and parental involvement. Tebelius maintains that the No Child Left Behind Act is not only well funded, but has plenty of money, saying that it’s easy to throw the criticism that it’s an unfunded federal mandate.

Tebelius believes that the economy, far from being a problem, is improving. She says statistics show clearly that new jobs are being created every month. In focusing on small businesses as a way to drive the economy, she says it’s important to make sure they can operate. She says that women run many small businesses, and they provide a tremendous opportunity to ensure economic security. She sees excessive regulation of small business as an obstacle, as well as high taxes which she says would go back into further building small enterprises. In her two years as a U.S. Trustee, a position she retired from this year, it was her job to review the financial documents of numerous distressed businesses. She says the experience gives her an understanding of the problems facing today’s business owners.

Tebelius thinks the country needs to ensure that businesses have a reliable, viable energy supply, and that getting there will be complicated. She believes that it’s a multifaceted issue needing study in order to balance the Bonneville Power Administration, dams, salmon needs, and the gas supply. She sees a need for additional oil refineries in the U.S., saying that there aren’t enough to supply the fuel we need. She says that everybody recognizes that alternative energy is important, but also maintains that there is evidence on both sides of the global warming debate. She adds that President Bush has already been working on the issue of alternative energy.

Tebelius suggests that frivolous litigation is another barrier to small business success, saying that businesses shouldn’t be threatened with lawsuits. She says it’s important to do something about class action lawsuits, such as the legislation that recently passed the House of Representatives allowing federal courts to hear class action suits with over 100 plaintiffs from different states and involving sums greater than $5 million.

She sees similar needs in the healthcare field, suggesting that punitive damages in malpractice cases should be capped, and that mediation should be used to reduce the number of lawsuits that make it to court. She does not believe that medical damages such as hospital charges or lifetime care costs should be capped.

When it comes to making healthcare more available, Tebelius believes that small business is the place to start because they’re the source of most uninsured. She suggests allowing them to bundle insurance purchases together to take advantage of bulk buying, and avoiding the high costs of insuring only a handful of people, as many small business owners are now forced to do. She says that people should be allowed to put money away in health savings accounts for catastrophic end-of-life care, which she describes as the largest medical expense that most people will face.

On social issues, Tebelius doesn’t support a Constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage, believing that it’s an inappropriate tool. She believes that the Defense of Marriage laws now in effect are sufficient to define marriage, and that beyond that, the states should decide for themselves. If those laws were successfully challenged under the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause, which would require all states to recognize gay marriages sanctioned in any other state, she says she would have to evaluate what steps to take at that point.

Tebelius would like to reduce the need for abortion by focusing on lowering the teen pregnancy rate, and allowing easy adoption. She also supports the over the counter availability of the morning-after pill, a stand at odds with the FDA who recently decided not to approve it for over the counter sales.

In her view, abortion restrictions should have exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. She supports the 2003 legislation that bans what the bill calls partial birth abortion, and what Tebelius calls late-term abortion. The bill is being challenged in federal court because it does not provide an exception for the health of the mother, and because the medical professionals bringing the suit believe the non-medical term partial birth abortion has been poorly defined. They say the definition as written would outlaw an abortion procedure used in the second trimester of pregnancy, as well.

Tebelius wants to let the courts decide the matter, and says that some experts disagree that the wording of the bill would prohibit any specific procedure. She says “absolutely not” when it comes to health exceptions for abortion in the third term of pregnancy. “I believe in the sanctity of life,” she said.

Tebelius also supports the death penalty as it’s currently implemented, and is confident in the way capital punishment is used. She does not believe that a recent spate of overturned death row convictions represents a systemic problem.

In terms of protecting our borders from terrorism, Tebelius praised the efforts of the Bush administration. She said that Congress and the administration had taken great steps to transfer 180,000 employees in 22 federal agencies under the umbrella of the new Homeland Security Department, a proposal that originated with Senate Democrats.

Looking abroad, Tebelius said the country needed to be focused on Iraq and Afghanistan. She said the country can’t allow troops to be put in harm’s way, and that it’s necessary to find Osama Bin Laden. She believes that the Bush administration is working both diplomatically and appropriately to resolve the hostile situation existing with the North Koreans.

“There are enough people who think they know better than the administration,” said Tebelius. She suggested that it was inappropriate to second-guess the president when it came to decisions like breaking off negotiations with North Korea when he took office in 2001.

Find out more at her website.

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