Leading his campaign championing the middle class with the war cry, “Put Nebraska First and Nebraska Always,” Dennis Crawford (D) is challenging Jeff Fortenberry (R) for the incumbent’s First District Seat in the House of Representatives.
Crawford is a lifelong Lincoln resident who earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at Creighton University in 1982 and his Juris Doctor degree at the Catholic University in 1985. After graduation from law school, he returned to his hometown and has been practicing law in personal injury and workers compensation since 1986.
In an interview with The Journal Dec. 18, Crawford shared his opposition to the tax proposal passed by the Senate early Wednesday and pending in the House. Crawford said he was disappointed in Fortenberry for his “yea” vote on an earlier version of the bill.
“This legislation will blow up the deficit and raise taxes on many in the middle class – all to deliver a tax cut to the special interests and the top 1 percent,” Crawford said in a follow-up email to The Journal. “This was a major lost opportunity to achieve real tax reform. Instead, Fortenberry and the GOP chose to go it alone and pass the bill by a narrow margin on a straight party line vote. The next time we get the chance to enact tax reform, there must be hearings, expert testimony and bi-partisanship. Any tax reform must benefit the middle class and not increase the deficit. We deserve better.”
If Crawford unseats Fortenberry in the 2018 election, he promises to support efforts to “tear up this bill.”
“We need to start all over again by holding hearings, soliciting expert testimony and working on a bi-partisan basis. I would support tax cuts for the middle class only that would not increase the deficit.”
The Senate, he said, approved a tax bill that will increase mortgage payments for many Nebraskans.
“Trump made a number of populace promises when he ran for president,” he said. “He said he would raise taxes on the wealthy and would make no cuts on Medicare. He promised tax cuts for the middle class and health care for everybody. He’s broken every last one of them. People are disenchanted with him. That’s what I’m hearing from the voters.”
In addition to tax cuts for the middle class, Crawford said he favors “what’s working” in the Affordable Care Act.
“It has done a lot of good. It has insured 20 million additional Americans and reduced the uninsured rate from 18 percent to 9 percent. That’s an all-time low. It eliminated pre-existing condition clauses and lifetime limits in health insurance policies. We need to keep what’s working in it and fix what’s broken,” he said.
Fortenberry, he said, promised no one would be left behind if the ACA was repealed.
“The Trumpcare bill takes away insurance from 23 million Americans and brings back pre-existing condition clauses, all to fund a one percent tax cut for the wealthy and corporations. Fortenberry has put Trump and special interests first. He is a loyal party soldier who believes the wealth will trickle down.”
Crawford proposes strengthening and expanding Medicare and Medicaid through a “buy-in program” for all.
“Any consumer or business owner could select a Medicare or Medicaid insurance under my plan,” Crawford explained. “This would give Nebraskans more options and allow them access to better and more insurance policies.”
The top problem in healthcare in Nebraska is a lack of competition in the insurance market.
“In Nebraska, only one company is on the exchange that sells insurance – Medica,” he said. “My plan would force private health insurance companies to lower rates and provide better service.”
Legislation for such a plan has been introduced on a state and federal level, he said.
“Medicare is very popular and has been very successful. Senior citizens love it. I would like to make that plan available to more Nebraskans,” he said. “My plan would improve the financial stability of the programs, because you’d have young people who are healthier paying into the pool. I believe health care is a right and not a privilege.”
Crawford believes a pivotal point in helping the middle class is raising the minimum wage. “Unemployment is low and wages are still too low,” he said. “In a 2014 referendum, Nebraska raised the minimum wage to $9 per hour. Opponents said it would increase unemployment, but it didn’t. Unemployment decreased.”
He believes increasing the minimum wage creates jobs. “People have more money to spend on getting goods and service. Inequality in America is much more stratified than in Australia or Canada.”
To enact such plans, Crawford supports campaign reformation.
He supports a Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United, passed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, and which allows Super PAC donations. “We broke away from England because we did not want to live under a monarchy system,” he said.
Crawford is also concerned with Trump’s handling of international situations. “Trump could get us into a war with North Korea with his negative and impulsive personality,” he said. “A war in the Korean Peninsula could cost the lives of thousands of Korean citizens.”
Currently, Gens. John Kelly, Joseph Dunford and H.R. McMaster provide some check-and-balance system on Trump’s actions.
“But we need a Congress check-and-balance system as well,” Crawford said.
Crawford hopes Congress will investigate the recent sexual harassment charges against Trump. “He has admitted sexually assaulting women. That behavior is unacceptable. Unfortunately, Fortenberry has declined to criticize his behavior.”
Another campaign platform dear to Crawford is the expansion of clean energy.
“I believe in increasing our investment in wind and solar power,” he said. “Nebraska has great potential for wind and solar energy, but there is a lack of leadership in this area at both the state and federal area. Once again, the tax bill guts the wind and energy tax credits because of the oil companies lobbying. We should expand not gut the credits.”
Crawford also opposes the Keystone Pipeline going through the state. “The problem is it would only create 35 permanent jobs and it puts our water supply in jeopardy. It also wouldn’t reduce gas prices. Why do it? It makes no sense,” he said. “Why put our water supply at risk to help Trans Canada? I support renewable energy. That’s my plan.”
He predicts citizens will see a wave of Democrats elected in 2018. “If you want different results, you have to vote for different people,” Crawford said.