Candidate John Lewis Speaks at Annual Meeting
Congressional candidate John Lewis met with MPEA members May 16 at this year’s Annual Meeting in Billings.
Lewis, a fourth generation Montanan, provided those attending with his position on a number of issues important to labor, discussed a number of issues important to Montana and its economy and answered questions from MPEA members.
The Billings native noted that the support of labor has been essential to his campaign. He observed that Montana is surrounded by right-to-work states then said he supported collective bargaining, the proposed increase in the minimum wage and that he would oppose efforts to hurt working families.
Lewis said there was a well-funded effort to privatize social security, to further limit the rights of workers and to eliminate collective bargaining, and, that he was “willing to go the distance for working families.
“Whoever emerges among as the GOP congressional candidate will have access to big resources,” Lewis said. He then asked members to get involved in his campaign by discussing his position with at least 10 friends and family.
He said he believed there was a real divide between rural and urban community priorities then cited the Farm Bill as an example of the real need for a rural needs advocate. It took six years of negotiations for Congress to pass a five year bill. He said he would also work to make college more affordable again because he believes access to quality public education was one of the cornerstones of democracy.
Lewis expressed his concern for Montana’s aging population and said he would oppose any fundamental changes to either social security or Medicare.
In a question and answer session, Lewis was asked about his position on corporate taxation. He explained he was for a simpler code and believed there was a need to eliminate tax havens and also believes in closing tax loopholes that make it easier to ship jobs overseas. A tax haven is a country that offers foreign individuals and businesses little or no tax liability in a politically and economically stable environment. Tax havens also provide little or no financial information to foreign tax authorities. Individuals and businesses that do not reside a tax haven can take advantage of these countries’ tax regimes to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. Tax havens do not require that an individual reside in or a business operate out of that country in order to benefit from its tax policies.
A Yellowstone County public assistance worker queried Lewis on getting people out of poverty. He said he believed raising the minimum wage was a good start and that there were a number of efforts in other states that were proving useful. He then cited Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe efforts to expand Medicaid so a greater number of the poor could receive health care.
Clint Oman, public health and human services, said politicians seem unable to address issues and asked Lewis “how do you get the House off the dime?” Lewis said that “they are in constant campaign mode back there (Washington D.C.) and there needs to be a break in the gridlock.”
Lewis was also asked by a Revenue Department member “what would be the most unpopular thing that you would stand up for.” He responded that “one would be continued military reductions. We have five massive bases in Europe; continued reductions could begin there.
Lewis was born in Billings, reared in Missoula, has been married since 2001 and with his wife, Melissa, has two small children.