Terence Rosenthal is a subcontractor for the Lesko campaign. He presents his argument below:
On April 24, there will be a special election in Arizona Congressional District 8 to replace Congressman Trent Franks who resigned last December amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Republican candidate, Debbie Lesko, who served in the Arizona State Senate from 2015-2018 will take on Democrat candidate, Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, a physician who has specialized in cancer research for twenty years.
Debbie Lesko, pro-life, is on Susan B. Anthony’s List. In addition, she is pro-Second Amendment, and is a member of the NRA. She has served on the Rules Committee in the Arizona State House. Lesko is a fierce proponent of protecting the Southern border and maintaining a strong national defense. This includes sustaining Luke Airforce Base as well as the F-35. Dr. Hiral Tipirneni MD sits on the Board of Directors of the Maricopa Health Foundation. She wishes to see a new healthcare market where private insurance exists aside a nationalized healthcare plan extending Medicare. Concerned about the well-being of those who immigrate to the U.S., Tipirneni is a first-generation immigrant from India.
Arizona District 8 is a highly Republican district and the odds are heavily stacked in Lesko’s favor. However, lawmakers and candidates running in 2018 will be watching this race because of its two main issues of debate, healthcare and immigration. Arizona, with one of the largest and most porous sections of the Southern border, is perhaps the most appropriate place to discuss immigration, DACA and the construction of a wall. It is also home to one of the largest retiree populations in the U.S. and an apt forum regarding the direction of U.S. healthcare under President Trump.
Themes from this election will echo throughout elections throughout this mid-term year. On healthcare, Incumbents and challengers must consider challenges that will arise as the result of transitioning from Obamacare to Trump Care. Arizona is a microcosm of the challenges much of the rest of the country faces. Like many other states, Arizona Many was offered subsidized plans under the Affordable Care Act. In addition, Medicaid was extended with higher frequency than previous administrations.
Under Obama, approximately 400,000 people in Arizona were offered enrollment in Medicaid. Transitioning these two groups from Obama to Trump policies will be difficult. Hiral Tiperneni’s proposal for a nationalized plan via Medicare expansion is meant to cover these people, while those who wish for a more individualized plan will opt for a private provider. In addition, there is still no clear path regarding how and to what extent those with preexisting will be accommodated for coverage.
Going forward, Washington faces a difficult choice whether to reform Medicare and Medicaid with free market features or ask Americans to pay more in taxes to keep them from going bankrupt. The idea of expanding Medicare to facilitate a nationalized plan is enticing to many citizens and elected officials. However, it must be asked to what will stop the government from establishing rules and regulations that favor a government plan while over burdening private healthcare plans.
Without a doubt, themes regarding border protection and immigration reform from this race will be reiterated throughout 2018. Arizona is the epicenter of illegal immigration at the Southern border. According to FairUS.org, from 2001-2010, approximately 1,300 illegal aliens per day were apprehended at the Arizona border. Nearly half of Arizona’s foreign-born population are in the U.S. illegally. Although Lesko and Tiperneni have opposing views on immigration, both advocate treating those under DACA and the DREAM Act with compassion.
Debbie Lesko proposes greater enforcement of E-Verify and backs the construction of a border wall at Arizona’s southern border. Those who are against a border wall cite that it may cost approximately $50 billion in construction and future maintenance, in addition to posing danger to migrating wildlife. It should be noted that the construction of a wall south of San Diego has reduced illegal immigration to a fraction in that area. In addition, the Trump administration has stated that illegal immigration costs over $100 billion in tax revenue.
The outcome of the Arizona District 8 special election will most likely be a comfortable victory for Debbie Lesko and the Republicans. However, as the 2018 campaign cycle unfolds, it is likely that themes on immigration and healthcare and immigration and healthcare will be crafted to fit tight races in states like Florida, Texas and beyond. Successful narratives on these two themes will garner victories in the House and Senate, and House will shape the most important legislation in Trump’s first term.