A partisan divide has the United States in gridlock, nonpartisan candidate Heath Beasley said.
“We can’t balance the budget because of partisan division,” said Beasley, who is running for the open U.S. Senate seat. “Republicans don’t want to pass the budget because we have a Democratic president. We need someone that’s going to go and vote strictly on the issues at hand. … It’s getting us nowhere right now.”
Beasley, who served in the U.S. Navy and came to Hawaii in 1997 while stationed on the USS Cimarron, said the price of oil is the biggest issue facing the state this year.
“We see (the impact of oil’s price) at the store,” he said. “It happens with the shipping. It also affects our energy bills.”
Honolulu’s status as a domestic, not international, port hurts the islands’ economy.
“There’s kind of a monopoly with how goods come,” he said. “We don’t get a bargain price.”
To that end, he would like to see changes to the Jones Act, which requires that ships coming to domestic American ports be American-owned, flagged and crewed. He’d like the same exemptions for Hawaii as already granted to U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
He doesn’t support a complete overturning of the Jones Act.
“It provides a level of security” for the country, Beasley said. “I wouldn’t want to take it away.”
Beasley said he was not familiar with a provision, passed by Congress, that gave a 35 percent increase in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to Alaska’s physicians, and couldn’t comment on whether he would support such a measure for Hawaii’s doctors. But he said he does want to see health care become more affordable for all Americans.
“I want something more like universal health care for all citizens, but still have a private sector” option available for people with the financial means to pay out of pocket to see a private doctor, he said.
Hawaii does have a doctor shortage, something Beasley traced back to the education system. Hawaii needs to do a better job with education, and that may help inspire more children to enter the medical field, he said.
He called on his personal experiences in the Navy in citing the Department of Defense budget as one area that could be cut. The country has roughly 900 bases in foreign countries, some in places where the host nation doesn’t want the base there.
“It’s important a country have its sovereignty,” Beasley said. “You don’t (want to) have another country within your borders.”
He’s also seen wasteful spending, firsthand, on those bases. At one base, which he declined to name, he saw the military spend more money on renting cars, trucks, vans and buses than would have been spent if the military outright purchased the vehicles.
“That’s just a little piece of the whole budget for defense,” he said.
He has concerns about American businesses getting tax breaks by using loopholes in the tax code.
“The companies have been getting away with robbery,” he said.
He proposed a different system to ensure those companies pay their fair share of taxes.
“If you do 70 percent of business in the U.S., that 70 percent is taxed,” he said. “We have to change the tax code. We all know the tax code is broken.”
Americans should pay the same tax rate across the board, he added.
Beasley described himself as a concerned citizen who is running for office to “make a change for good.”