Saturday | March 25, 2017
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Crowley eyes return of sovereign Hawaii

Hilo native Kawika Crowley has several big ideas he’d like to see put in place if he’s elected to the U.S. House this fall.

Crowley, 60, now living in Kaneohe, Oahu, is seeking the Republican nomination to run in the 2nd Congressional District, for the seat Mazie Hirono is vacating to run for Senate.

For one, Crowley said he would like to see a return of a sovereign Hawaiian government, with the United States awarding Kahoolawe to that government.

“The Akaka Bill doesn’t go far enough” for Native Hawaiian recognition, Crowley said.

The Hawaiian Kingdom had a monarchy for more than 100 years. It wasn’t a tribe, he said. It had a government, treaties and roads. Crowley also has a five-year plan to reduce the size and cost of the federal government. He proposed every department cut its budget by 5 percent a year, each year for five years.

“By the time the fifth year comes, you’ve taken out 25 percent,” he said. “That’s a big chunk.”

Asking departments to cut a quarter of their budgets in a year isn’t feasible — there are too many employees, too many things already in place, he said. Over a five-year period is more reasonable.

He also favors an incremental approach to overhauling Social Security. He said the retirement age should be pushed back, slowly. But people who have already paid into the system for years and who are now approaching the age to collect Social Security shouldn’t have to accept any changes.

“The people who paid into it have to be taken care of,” he said. Younger generations, “they have to begin to realize this whole Social Security pie may not be available. Once the expectation level is changed, the people will accept it.”

While he’s supportive of increasing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to Hawaii doctors, “that’s like putting a Band-Aid on a cancer sore,” he said.

He advocates a total tort reform. Doctors are paying too much for insurance because lawyers are seeking out the smallest mistakes doctors make and filing large lawsuits.

“Doctors’ insurance rates are crazy,” he said. “That is the root (of doctors’ financial problems).”

Crowley doesn’t support the continuation of the Jones Act, which requires ships sailing between domestic U.S. ports to be American-owned, flagged and crewed. Initially, the act, passed in 1920, was put in place to protect maritime workers, Crowley said.

That’s not how it works now.

“It’s evolved into a vehicle for a monopoly for two or three giant carriers,” he said, adding it should be “taken apart and fine-tuned for the 2012 economy.”

The Jones Act keeps Hawaii from getting liquid natural gas, because no American companies have ships to bring the fuel to Hawaii.

Crowley said he favors eliminating visa regulations for visitors to the United States, as well as getting rid of many immigration regulations.

“It’s really a no-brainer,” he said. “There’s no reason for it.”

He also supports plans to continue expanding military operations in Hawaii, he said.

If elected, he will consider the issues, but said he isn’t likely to vote across party lines.

“To be frank with you, much of the bills and legislation brought forth by the Democrats are just plain pro-big government,” he said. “I’m not going to be blind and vote only Republican.”

He said he would likely vote with the Republican majority 90 percent of the time.

His background — born and raised in Hilo — set him apart from other GOP candidates in Hawaii, he said, and gives him a better shot at election success.

Crowley said he was an early proponent of splitting the Big Island into East Hawaii and West Hawaii counties. To do so would require a more direct Kona-to-Hilo drive, one he said he previously proposed.