Bost talks Trump tariffs, potential for trade war with China
Name: Mike Bost
Office seeking: U.S. Representative – 12th District
City of residence: Murphysboro
Campaign website: bostforcongress.com
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I’m running for U.S. Congress because I want a better, brighter and more secure future for my children and grandchildren. I have and will continue to bring Southern Illinois values to Washington, not the other way around. Southern Illinois is full of hardworking, principled folks who want to see results. That’s why I’ve remained true to Southern Illinois values, but also found common ground with members from across the political spectrum to get things done. From keeping our schools safe to ensuring our veterans have the best care possible, every single bill I’ve introduced has had bipartisan support. A Democrat co-sponsor on every single one. Several of those bills are now law. Southern Illinoisans should vote for me because I get results.
Were the steel tariffs the right approach in fighting foreign steel dumping? Why or why not? If not,what should have been done? I believe in free trade, but it must be fair trade. The return of 800 union steelmaking jobs at Granite City demonstrates the good that can happen when we act against foreign countries that cheat the rules. To better fight unfair trade, I introduced legislation now signed into law that improves our nation’s anti-dumping and countervailing laws. Steelworkers and companies have been fighting to achieve these remedies for years and they are now leading to substantial tariffs on illegally-traded steel, including steel produced in Granite City. As Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Steel Caucus, I took the plight of Granite City workers directly to President Trump at a White Housemeeting and urged him to use tariffs to protect our nation’s steelmaking industrial base. Shortly after, the President issued the tariffs and U. S.Steel announced it would restart its idled furnaces as a result. For me, this has never been a partisan issue; it has been about the workers and helping them fight against cheating competitors overseas. I am proud to have played my part in bringing these 800 jobs back to Southern Illinois.
What should be put in place or done to ensure fair trade agreements and long-term stability for everyone in your district? I believe one of the greatest failures in our nation’s approach to international trade has been our unwillingness to stand up to rampant and abusive cheating by nations like China. When China agreed to enter the World Trade Organization, it made commitments to end support for state-owned companies, respect foreign intellectual property and allow fair access to its market. It has failed to meet these commitments. I am pleased that the president has made a more balanced treatment of American exports a centerpiece of his trade agenda.Contrary to the politically-charged rhetoric about trade wars, the administration has opened new trade talks with Japan and expressed a desire to pursue other trade deals. It has also updated and renegotiated NAFTA, something the previous administration promised but didn’t deliver. Congress can help the process by establishing clear negotiating objectives for the administration –such as lowering tariffs on American manufacturing exports and non-tariff barriers on American agriculture exports – as a condition of ratifying any agreement. It can also ensure that agencies responsible for enforcing our trade remedy laws are adequately funded, something I have spearheaded for the last three years. Building a fairer and more balanced system for American workers,agriculture producers and businesses will take time. If it leaves us better off than we are now, that’s a win for America.
Would you term limit yourself? If so, how many terms? I believe that the best term limits are ballots in the hands of voters. If a constituent believes their representative has failed to represent their interests in Congress, they have the power to vote that individual out of office. That’s why I’ve worked so hard to keep connected to the values of Southern Illinois. Unlike many members, I come home every weekend, spend every work week in the district meeting with constituents, and host telephone town halls, roundtables, public forums, and small group meetings to keep a pulse on what matters to you. It makes me a more effective representative in Congress; and it ensures your views are heard and valued, even if we may disagree on the policy.
The issues surrounding public housing in East St. Louis continue, even though the federal government returned it to local control. Was the federal government giving up control the right move? What needs to be done in order to help East St. Louis public housing? The return of the EastSt. Louis Public Housing Authority to local control after more than 30 years of federal receivership is an opportunity, but it also presents many challenges.Senator Dick Durbin and I supported Mayor Jackson-Hicks’ petition to return local control as part of a broader plan for reform and economic development.However, while day-to-day management of East St. Louis public housing is in the hands of the local housing authority, HUD must continue its oversight and enforcement functions. The outcome of the public housing crisis in Alexander County – where outright fraud and gross mismanagement led to our own citizens living in unsanitary conditions -- offers a cautionary lesson of what happens when federal agencies, and for that matter Congress, fail in their oversight functions. Recently, I testified before a congressional hearing on the housing crisis. At that hearing, I pressed my colleagues, and pledged to work with them, to institute reforms to HUD’s oversight of public housing agencies so that something like this never happens again – in Cairo, East St. Louis, or anywhere else in America.
Has enough been done to address the ongoing opioid epidemic? If not, what else should be done? Our families and communities are on the frontlines of addressing this crisis. To gain a better understanding of what isneeded to address this crisis, I organized an opioid task force, comprised oflaw enforcement, medical professionals, and families impacted personally byopioid addiction. I also welcomed the United States Surgeon General to the metro-east to visit treatment facilities and see what more can be done. In Congress, I have cosponsored more than a dozen bills that combat the opioid crisis by advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, improving prevention programs, and bolstering efforts to combat illicit synthetic drugs like Fentanyl. I recently voted to provide more than $10 billion in funding to carryout activities authorized in these bills.
Was eliminating a fine for not having health insurance as required in the Affordable Care Act the right thing to do? Why or why not? What parts of the ACA should be changed? The architects of Obamacare made a bunch of promises. They promised that it would reduce health insurance costs by $2,500per family and allow those who like their current insurance plans to keep it.The reality in Southern Illinois is quite different. Today, there is only one health insurance exchange plan for all of St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties. Premiums for this plan have more than doubled, rising by more than 70 percent in one year alone well before the mandate was repealed. Oh, and don’t forget that Nancy Pelosi and her D.C. allies cut $700 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare. The so-called “individual mandate” forcing people to pay for a service they don’t need or want was always constitutionally questionable.Furthermore, many do not qualify for Obamacare’s income-rated subsidies and others found it cheaper to pay the tax than enroll in a plan with high premiums. The unstable risk pools have become so problematic that people in some states faced the prospect of there being no insurance provider at all. We cannot allow this to happen in Southern Illinois.
Gun violence is a problem. What can and should be done to stop it? There are a great many laws on the books addressing the criminal use or illegal possession of fire arms. The first step to reducing gun violence is to start enforcing them. I also introduced legislation creating a federal grant program for schools to make their classrooms safer by installing panic buttons and other alert systems to notify law enforcement immediately to incidents of classroom or campus violence. I am happy to report that, in the first year, 91 jurisdictions nationwide were awarded grants through the program – including 7 in Illinois. I was pleased to visit school administrators in Union County where we highlighted their school safety grant this summer. Furthermore, I voted for the Fix NICs Act to stop those who are not legally allowed to purchase firearms. This legislation addresses shortcomings and loopholes in the background check system to prevent those who are criminally or mentally prohibited from purchasing firearms. I have also supported efforts to ban bump stocks, which were used in the Las Vegas attacks and other mass shootings. The Second Amendment protects the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms, and the vast majority of gun owners exercise this right responsibly. I believe we can make our communities safer without infringing on this constitutional right.