Jared Golden Visits Washington County

Speaking with members of the local Steelworkers Union – all of whom are employees at the Baileyville mill – is Jared Golden (center), candidate for the United States House of Representatives. Golden came to Washington County on October 18th to meet with constituents and discuss legislative priorities. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

In his quest to represent Maine’s 2nd Congressional District for the United States House of Representatives, Democrat Jared Golden visited the constituents of Washington County to hear their concerns and share his vision of what the biggest priorities would be in the upcoming legislative season. While visiting with the workers of Woodland Pulp, Golden took a moment to answer questions about his campaign.

Asked what he sees as the biggest priority for rural Maine, Golden said it was the same as it was for most areas at the moment, healthcare and the economy – both of which he sees as going together in Washington County. “I don’t just mean in terms of high costs for people that are already struggling to make ends meet, but also the largest growing jobs sector that we have is healthcare-related, and so the two actually go hand in hand in this instance here in Maine,” Golden said.

 

While Golden emphasized that it is his goal to continue in the tradition of legislators from Maine that actively seek to “work hard to meet with [constituents], to be fully accessible to them, and to prioritize the work that they want done, rather than some kind of national, corporate, or special interest-driven agenda,” Golden said that one of his broader goals will be working toward health care for all Americans. “I believe we should move in the direction of universal coverage. I am also pragmatic, and I understand that we’re not going to get there overnight. So I’m going to search for solutions that are good for rural communities.”

With the current proposed budget for the 2019 House of Representatives including cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, Golden said that he would utilize a different approach. “As a Labor Democrat, my commitment to Medicare and Social Security is rock solid. That’s kind of the remnants of the middle-class security that we have left. We just can’t give up on that.”

Rather than raising the age to receive Medicare and to retire – both of which have been discussed by Golden’s incumbent opponent, Bruce Poliquin, Golden said he would aim to lower the age required to receive Medicare to 55. Doing so would enable those who continue to work to pay their premiums to Medicare rather than to private insurers, he explained. “It would help drive down premiums for everyone and give more competition to private insurers to offer more competitive premium rates.”

Along with making changes to Medicare and Social Security that would serve to protect older Americans, Golden is in favor of reworking the ACA, which he described as “far from perfect,” adding, “it was never allowed to work the way that Congress envisioned it, to begin with.” Golden said that Medicaid expansion should have been required in all states rather than being vulnerable to executive veto as it has been in Maine, despite repeated voter support.

Aside from addressing critical health care and Social Security issues, Golden aims to improve Maine’s infrastructure, which he defines as networks of transportation, energy and broadband internet. “I really want to find a way for Congress to invest big in infrastructure,” Golden said. “I think it’s sad that we used to have the best infrastructure, and now, looking at many of our competitors in the world, that’s just not the case anymore. We’ve got to fix that.”

Speaking on transportation infrastructure, Golden described his past work in the freight forwarding industry – a role he played after serving in the Marines and attending college – as being helpful in recognizing opportunities for the state. “I understand the logistics side of our economy. We’re not making the investments necessary to capitalize on it. I think it’s a great example of why Maine is falling behind.”

The state’s energy infrastructure would benefit from an overhaul, Golden said. “It was government that brought electricity to rural areas and it will be government that fixes our utility grid as well, so we can do things like solar and wind, which isn’t viable right now for a replacement for very expensive oil.”

 

Golden has made some waves in his breaks from the National Democratic Party on specific issues, earning him the description of being an ‘old-school Labor Democrat’ from pundits. “On trade issues, I break with the party as it is today rather than as it used to be,” Golden said. “In a lot of ways, I agree with the president, like on softwood lumber tariffs, tariffs and trade deals. But, I think it’s based just on what’s going on here in Maine. I think the party needs to have that kind of open approach. Isn’t it the job of the representative to represent the local community?”