Political Profile Jared Golden

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 7:07 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - 1. What are the first three things you would do if you’re re-elected.

Jared Golden:Thank you very much. I think that there’s gonna be a couple of things that I can definitely see myself focusing on Kelly in the next Congress. First, we always have to build a budget that is important for the country as a whole, but also for the state of Maine with the return of earmarks something, you know, they call congressionally directed funding. The delegation both of our senators, myself and whoever is representing CD one. You know, currently, Shelley Pingree worked very closely together on that. So, as an example I got a million dollars for the Northern Maine Community College and the last funding cycle for the funding of the mechanized logging apprenticeship program, which a lot of people up in this area use. But really loggers, potential loggers from all over the state. Right now. We’re also working on an earmark important to Loring. So that is a real focus and something that we’ll get right to work on in January. I expect to be back on the Armed Services Committee. So on that committee I put a lot of time and effort into the annual defense bill with a real eye towards national security in the wellbeing of our service members and their families. But of course, here in Maine, trying to make sure that bath, ironworks gets good funding to protect the ship building jobs there. People from all 16 counties work down there. And of course, speaking of lowering the DFAS facility is very important economically to the county.

But also the job that they do is very significantly important for our military personnel. So we always keep an eye on that as part of that process. You know, I’m also working on several pieces of legislation. One that comes to mind. I’ve passed it through the house twice. I’m trying to get a pathway forward in the US Senate. Would reauthorize the small business development centers. I’m sure some people up in this region have taken advantage of those. There’s 11 of them in Maine’s second congressional district alone, and that’s free services provided by the federal government often staffed by people with business experience. It’s a free service to any business owner or would be business owner. If you know someone wants to get out there and try and start a business, you can go to a small business development center and ask for help with that.

2. I’m going to skip ahead to a question that I had that really goes along with that, and that is how important to you is visiting your constituents in their towns and city in person, while in office.

Jared Golden: That’s very in important. It can be difficult to do. We have the largest congressional district, east of the Mississippi River which is something that is unique about Maine and something I really love about representing the district. Of course it covers about 80% of the land mass of the state. It is such a blessing to do this as a job and be out there traveling around. I love sitting down with folks face to face and with covid, zoom meetings and all those things became very popular. And while I’m willing to do that if it’s the best option or the only way to make it work I really prefer face to face.

It’s just what I like to do. So we do town halls. But those can be very difficult too. I think people are busy and so I’m more than happy to connect with folks through any means that they really prefer that we can make work. We will do coffee hours in our office up here in the county or in Bangor or Lewiston.

And people come in and meet with me in my office. They come down to Washington and do it. And of course, we get a lot of invitations to come out and visit people where they are at. So, as an example, we’ll be visiting with the folks in Houlton, at Smith and Wesson in the weeks ahead. And that’s something we’ve been trying to set up for some time now.

Kelly: 3. And if reelected, what committees would you plan to serve on and why?

Golden: I’ll continue to try and be a member of the armed services committee. I already spoke to the importance of bath ironworks to state. Over 7,000 jobs right there, great career opportunity for people. But it’s very important to the country too, from the perspective of having a strong navy and meeting the national security needs of the country.

I also like bringing the perspective of an infantry marine enlisted side into that committee. Many of the members have served in the military, but most frequently they were in the officer core, which is great. But I do think having the enlisted perspective is a different perspective and important one to have in the policy making committee.

Particularly when we’re just thinking about the actual livelihoods and wellbeing of our service members. Most people are serving enlisted, of course. I don’t know what the other one would be. I’ve really been, I think, lucky to be on the small business committee. Very important for every state, their economy’s really driven by small businesses.

At times. I’ve thought about trying to move on to the Veterans Affairs Committee or even asking for a waiver to serve on three committees. Generally you can only serve on two in the house. But we’ll have to see what opportunities are there after the election. Some of that has to do with who’s coming back and who’s not.

4. So you mentioned what your first three things would be that you want to do, but what are the priorities that you have going back?

Golden: Actually all those things that I just spoke about really are top priorities. The national security angle I think really matters for the country and I would just because of my background, well suited to be a part of that conversation. I think we all support our military service members and appreciate their service and want to see them living the best that they can while they’re serving the country. And of course the focus on taking care of our military members after they leave service and become veterans is something that we, I think here in Maine take a lot of pride in caring about. So those have been top priorities for me so far through four years. You know, these little things like getting money for apprenticeship training programs, workforce development. I’ve worked a lot on the earmarks on trying to fund things like wastewater treatment upgrades. Doesn’t sound exciting, but property taxpayers have to pay for it. And getting a little bit of federal relief can help keep property taxes low. And that is really critical infrastructure for any community and across the state. A lot of our wastewater treatment facilities are getting very old and need to be replaced. So I mentioned that we’re working with several towns on that earlier. If I didn’t, I can tell you for instance, we did this for Jay Livermore Falls recently, a safe property taxpayers about $200 on their annual property tax bill right there. We’re working with Ellsworth in the town of DicksField, Loring and almost every year we get applications from dozens and dozens of towns that are looking at doing this. So we’ll keep that kind of a focus and priority as well.

5. And kind of going off of that, you mentioning, people are already there. How willing are you to compromise and work with everyone regardless of political affiliation to get the work that needs to be done, done?

Jared Golden: That’s something I take a lot of pride in being one of the best at. In this Congress in 2021 and 2022, there’s a group out there called the Bipartisan Lugar Center, he’s a former senator, who is very committed to working together in a bipartisan way. I’ve been ranked number seven out of the entire House of Representatives.

So there’s 435 members of the house and to be ranked the seventh most bipartisan is something I’m really proud of. My office and staff are proud of and I hope that’s what our constituents want, I suspect it is. And the delegation, I think has a long track record of that type of leadership with folks like Senator Collins, Senator Olympia Snow in the past, always known as a very bipartisan individual. So, I’m very willing to do it and pleased to do it.

6. So moving on to energy and heating questions. How concerned are you about people living in Aroostook County heading into the cold winter months?

Jared Golden:I’m very concerned about people in Aroostook County about the cost of energy and heating their homes filling up their gas tanks. But I share that concern across the state. It is a critically important issue. And here in Maine in New England, different than other parts of the country, like in the south, in the winter months. This is a top of mind issue. So, it’s a big concern. Just a couple weeks ago when we passed a continuing resolution to keep government funded and open through mid December. Senator Collins and I worked together on legislation to secure an additional billion dollars for the LIHEAP program so that if folks are struggling to, fill up their tanks and keep the home appropriately heated, they can apply to that program for assistance.

That’s going to bring you know, several million more dollars into the state on top of what was already there. And I think we’re going to continue to push for even more when we get a deal in in December.

7. So you kind of started answering this one a little bit, but as energy and heating oil prices continue to sky rocket. What can you do to try and fix this for county folks who could freeze this winter?

Golden: One thing that I have done to try and be proactive early on in 2022, I led a group of lawmakers in pushing the Biden administration to release millions of barrels from the strategic oil reserves that we have here in this country. Those reserves are for times like this. There’s been estimates by CEOs of oil producers that those releases have helped keep prices down about 15 cents or somewhere right around there. Of course, we’ve seen prices go up significantly. A lot of that somewhat out of our control with the conflict in Ukraine and the Russian invasion, of course, contributing, decisions of other countries like OPEC being a problem. But those releases from the strategic reserves are set to end this month, and I’m once again calling on the president to commit to releasing even more to try and keep prices down as much as possible, but, a key part of that policy is to then commit to buy domestic American oil to refill those reserves rather than buying foreign imports. And that sends a signal to American producers that they’ve got a buyer in the American government using the taxpayers dollar to refill those reserves will also encourage greater production, which in turn should help bring prices down.

8. With so much need in the state that you mentioned and that it may not be able to fund that itself. Do you agree with the amount of aid being sent over seas? Especially as part of that bill that was just going through the House and Senate.

Golden: I think it’s very important that we help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression. I think that invasion could set the tone globally for decades to come about the security of democratic nations. And it’s important that the United States, I think, play a positive role in sending a message to world leaders like Putin or others like China. You know, other authoritarian nations that we’re going to stick up for democratic nations and for people’s freedom. So yeah, I think we’re doing the right thing. As a member of The Armed Services committee, I’ve been supportive of getting the arms and supplies into the hands of the Ukrainian military so they can fight for their own freedom. I think that’s the key point. I don’t want to see the US get drawn in there, you know, personally with our own troops on the ground. But if the Ukrainian people are willing to fight for that freedom, then I think that they need good allies and that the US should be there for them.

9. So moving into economy and inflation, how concerned are you about inflation and the possibility of a recession?

Golden: I’m very concerned about inflation. If you look back in early 2021, I was the only Democrat in Congress to vote against the American Rescue Plan. And in talking about why I opposed it, it wasn’t that I, you know, don’t support trying to, at that time do more to bring covid to, I don’t want to say an end because, you know, nature really controls that. But, you know, getting money out there to get vaccines, Important. Yes. But, that was done just several months after Congress had in a very bipartisan way, working with President Trump passed $900 billion, in December of 2020. In my statements against AARP, I said, This is too much money, too fast. In the wake of what we just did working together. And it could be inflationary. So I started warning about inflation early on in 2021. I opposed President Biden’s build back better proposal, largely for the same reasons when my track record in this Congress has been. When there was stimulus spending, I opposed it because I thought that the work that we had done together as a Congress in 2020 in response to Covid was important, but had spent a lot of money. It was time to pump the brakes, the things that I have voted for. Infrastructure, investments for our roads and bridges, important investments in our manufacturing base, looking at Chips, That’s called the Chips and Science Act. Very important to bring semiconductor manufacturing capacity back home to America. And, the ira, which I voted for, which is going to make a big investment not only in increasing oil and gas production, but also trying to make sure that in the future renewable energy is more reliable. These are long term investments that money is not flowing into the economy and making inflation worse now, but it will help address some of the supply side concerns that will help us fight inflation as time goes on. But I’ve been concerned about this, warned about it, and tried to take the right votes to not only stop inflation from getting worse, but hopefully to make it better. But at the same time, I think I’ve also had a real focus on the long term needs of the country. Again, making those investments and things like our roads, bridges, broadband expansion here in rural Maine. Very important.

10. Do you think continuing to raise the interest rate to the potentially more than 4% that it’s been estimated it could be, or is the answer or part of the answer.

Golden: So, of course that’s a Fed’s decision. Congress doesn’t get involved or take votes relevant to that. But, looking back again at my votes in opposition to parts of the Biden agenda in 21, in 22, talked about the danger of inflation for working middle class people. It is a big concern. And as a result, I do think that the Fed has to do what it can to keep inflation. Well, first of all, to blunt it, bring it hopefully, at least to a grinding hall and then back down. So, if that means bringing interest rates up, then I think that’s something that we’ve got to do. But it’s a delicate balance, obviously, for the folks at the Fed and we don’t want to see them go any further than necessary. And hopefully we can find that right balance where we can bring inflation down and do it without causing a recession. But rising inflation getting out of control will cause a recession in and of itself.

11. So in addition to that interest rate, short term goal, what should be done to help Mainers today as we face the winter with inflation, and then businesses as well?

Golden: So, again, opposing additional stimulus spending, which is something that I’ve done, in this Congress. Then looking beyond that, what are some of the long term fundamentals that we can put in place that will help. And that’s the infrastructure bills that I voted for the manufacturing you know, bills that I have voted for. When you look at the ira, which I voted for in August, that’s going to help, I think make things more affordable for people in the here and now and also in the year ahead. How’s it going to do that? For starters, people who buy their healthcare premiums under the Affordable Care Act, about 45,000 families here in Maine we’re set to see rather large premium increases. This very month, that bill has actually blunted that, and it’s going to hold healthcare premiums steady, right where they’re at. We’re also going to be lowering prescription drug prices for thousands of Maine seniors right here in the state of Maine by capping out of pocket costs at $2,000 a year, and allowing seniors to opt to pay that over 12 monthly payments rather than getting like a lump sum bill that they might struggle to pay particularly those who are living on social security with a fixed income. That bill is also going to offer people some rebates, up to $14,000 to help get control over their energy bill. So you can get up to $8,000. That program should be opening up fairly soon to install a heat pump in your home. You can get $2,000 in a rebate to install, high efficiency, like pellet stoves, in your home or just to make simple insulation type improvements like more energy efficient windows or doors, siding, et cetera. And then if you have an older home, which many people in Maine do, and your wiring isn’t really ready for something like a heat pump. Well, you can get a rebate of up to $4,000 all in, that’s $14,000 that can be put into reducing your energy footprint in your own home. And on average that’s going to save families that do take advantage of those programs over a hundred dollars a year on their energy costs.

12. Do you support student loan forgiveness?

Golden: I actually don’t support student loan forgiveness in the way that President Biden has done it. You know, I think that programs that reward service to your community or to the country by helping you to fund your tuition is appropriate and actually is a really good thing. So I served in the military. I had an education benefit after that four years of service. There are other programs out there, not everyone wants to serve in the military. AmeriCorps being a good example, I support all those programs and I’d like us to see them be a little bit more robust as the cost of education has gone up. I think we have to take a look at if you joined AmeriCorps, are you getting enough in return given that rising cost in education. But I just don’t think it’s fair to the over half of people living in our community who don’t have college debt, who didn’t necessarily see going to college as the best path or had other great opportunities to have a career, whether it be, you know, running a logging business taking over the family farm, working at a place like the mill in Madawaska and the many mills all over the district, just didn’t seem fair to them to have their taxes going towards paying off student debt. And one of the things I really didn’t like about that proposal was that it didn’t really take into account people’s financial situations. So even those who are, you know, fortunate and most affluent would have their student loans forgiven even if they could afford to pay them back. It’s just the wrong approach, in my opinion.

13. And what solutions do you have, I mean Aroostook County is joining much of the state in a housing crisis, affordable housing crisis and homelessness crisis, what solutions are there out there for that?

Golden: I think the approach that I’ve taken in the last year has focused more on trying to develop good policies that we can also pay for and we’ve had to make tough tradeoffs. So you know, there were some housing policies and build back better. At the end of the day, I didn’t support that bill because it was about $2 trillion, almost all deficit spending and you know, not even fully paid for over the course of the 10 years of that bill. So unfortunately, I think sometimes you just have to pay attention to the fundamentals of trying to pass, you know, good government funding bills that send money out to the states and to local communities and let them best determine how to use that money to address local issues like housing and hopefully have an economy that’s going to be supportive of the market such that the housing will be a little bit more affordable.

14. And Aroostook County people are known for, you know, being kind, kindhearted people. So what’s one policy that you agree with that Bruce Poliquin has done, that Tiffany Bond would like to see?

Golden: You know, Tiffany and I in back in 2018 often talked about trying to address healthcare costs. For me that meant keeping the Affordable Care Act in place and of course supporting legislation that would then also make it more affordable.

I’ve done that. I talked earlier about the premium stabilization legislation that we have passed in this Congress, and I supported it once again, most recently in August. I think that’s a point of agreement. Tiffany might come at it a little bit differently. I think she used to talk about Medicaid expansion rather than thinking about it through the lens of the ACA, but the basic value is that healthcare costs and access to healthcare for Maine families should be a priority, right?

You know, for Bruce, I guess I would look back and say that while I don’t agree with every policy choice that he made as it relates to veterans, I do think that he put a lot of effort into trying to help veterans, here in the state and around the country. So voting for something like the Mission Act, which created flexibility for veterans if they were caught up in long wait times to get into see a doctor.

That’s a good thing. There have been other aspects, you know, of some of the legislation that he supported, that I didn’t think was the right move for our veterans population. But, that being said, there’s no doubt that there is, I think a shared value amongst all of us here in Maine that we want to, try and do what’s best for the veterans.

15. So, finally, why should the voters of Aroostook County vote for you?

Golden: Well, I hope that what they see is someone who cares about our community, cares about public service, is not a partisan, you know, loyalist, but rather someone who’s very committed to representing the state in representing our congressional district. I think that’s what the job is. I’m proud of some of these things I’ve spoken about earlier. Keeping a very local focus rather than a national politics focus, I’m just not interested in the national stuff. You know, I’m not there for the fight. Being the seventh most bipartisan member of the House of Representatives, I think it matches with the values of the people of the county and the state as a whole. I’ve been willing to stand up to my own party when necessary. When I do vote for legislation put forth by the Democrats, I’ve been unafraid to talk to you about it, to do lengthy interviews or put out very long statements explaining our positions and I hope that’s what people are looking for, and that’s, what I’ve offered, the type of leadership that they want, for the state and the nation as a whole. And so if that’s the case, then I would be honored to do another two years of service for the community. And obviously I’m here once again asking for your vote in November.