GLENS FALLS — Patrick Nelson is intimately familiar with the 21st Congressional District after having spent the last two election cycles working on campaigns for the House seat.
Nelson worked as an intern for Aaron Wolf in 2014 and as a staffer for Mike Derrick in 2016, and he said he probably has spent the most time of all the candidates in the race knocking on doors in the district.
“It’s kind of like being a walking poll to a certain extent or having a four-year degree in the 21st District. It makes you in touch with the people you are looking to represent,” he said during a meeting Tuesday with The Post-Star editorial board.
Nelson said Democrats can win the seat of U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, if they stop listening to those consultants who say they should not mention single-payer health insurance or Medicare for all in their campaigns.
Nelson said the party leaders do not want them to talk about Medicare for all because it would end the cozy relationship the Democrats have with the health insurance industry. Voters have had it with politicians beholden to corporate interests, according to Nelson.
“They are sick and tired of the political establishment in Washington, D.C., and the financial establishment on Wall Street,” he said.
Nelson said the American health care system is being mismanaged because it spends $4,800 per person, which is among the highest in the world, and it is not getting the same quality of care for what it is paying.
The Post-Star's editorial board has invited each Democratic candidate in the 21st Congressional District to the office for a sit down intervie…
Nelson said a Medicare-for-all system would help lower costs for businesses and government, which would allow municipalities to cut some of the highest property taxes in the nation.
While some people rail against inefficiency in government, Nelson said Medicare has a 2 percent overhead compared with 20 percent in private health insurance.
To fund the program, he proposed a payroll tax, a stock transfer tax and a tax on the wealthy. Nelson would also prohibit direct-to-consumer advertising by the pharmaceutical companies. Also, Medicare needs to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and allow reimportation of drugs from Canada.
Nelson also proposes a system in which drug companies would have to come before a regulatory agency to get approval to increase price.
Nelson said Stefanik cannot stand up to the health-care establishment because she has taken over $200,000 from health care political action committees. Nelson said he will not accept any corporate PAC money.
Nelson said he would shore up Social Security by lifting the income cap after which people are not required to contribute. Also, he would support creating an independent fiscal officer, similar to the comptroller at the state level, who would be responsible for managing the pension and entitlement funds.
“I think we need to take Social Security out of the hands of Congress and the president,” he said.
Nelson said he sees an opportunity for the North Country as climate change makes farm land unusable in other parts of the country. This district has to improve its sewer, water and communications infrastructure to be ready for this.
The United States should invest some of the money it is spending on defense in infrastructure such as improving rail, fixing roads and replacing decaying bridges, he said.
He said he would close foreign military bases before looking at any domestic base closures.
“You can’t just close the base and pull the rug out economically from someplace like Watertown,” he said.
Nelson also suggested that the federal government build out the next generation of internet connectivity if the private sector is unwilling to bring it to rural areas. The internet is a publicly funded utility.
“It doesn’t belong to the companies. Public tax dollars created every major innovation,” he said.
Nelson said it is not good enough that Stefanik puts her votes on Facebook after the fact. If elected, he would hold town hall meetings before he votes on major pieces of legislation to get input from the public.
“A member of Congress has a duty to come to the district and inform the people of legislation that’s going to affect their lives,” he said.
Nelson is one of five Democrats vying in the June 26 primary. The others are Tedra Cobb of Canton; Emily Martz of Saranac Lake; Dylan Ratigan of Lake Placid; and Katie Wilson of Keene.