Earned a BA from Siena College and a MPA and PhD from Cornell University. Served for 24 years in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Colonel. Other key assignments included tours teaching American politics at the United States Military Academy at West Point, serving as a Congressional Fellow with U.S. Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and completing a Hoover National Security Affairs Fellowship at Stanford University. I live in Kinderhook, where I grew up, with my wife, Mary Jo, a licensed clinical social worker, and our three children.
What experience and/or training has prepared you to serve in the position you seek?
I grew up in Columbia County, in the Village of Kinderhook, where my wife, Mary Jo, our three kids, and I returned in 2010 after I retired from the military. I spent 24 years in the United States Army, where I rose to the rank of Colonel and deployed seven times, including four combat tours in Iraq. I also was deployed to Kosovo, the Southwestern U.S. for a counter-drug operation, and to Haiti, where I commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team during the opening month of that humanitarian relief operation. As a family, we decided to lead by example and return my entire military pension to the U.S. Treasury while I am serving in Congress.
Do you support the continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? Would you support repeal? Why or why not?
Since I first ran for Congress in 2010, I have heard time and time again from my constituents across upstate New York that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not the answer to the broadly supported goals of lowering costs and expanding access to quality health care. In fact, as we have seen across upstate New York, costs continue to rise at alarming and unsustainable rates, driving down access.
The ACA includes massive tax increases (including new taxes on working class families), harms our small businesses (jeopardizing jobs), and increases government involvement in health care. For instance, the bill creates a panel of unelected and unaccountable Washington officials who are charged with cutting health care costs. Specifically, the bill pays for the approximately $1.7 trillion price tag over the next decade with more than $1 trillion in new taxes and fees and over $700 billion in cuts to Medicare. For our area, a particular concern is also a tax on medical device manufacturers, which could cost local jobs.
While the President may have had the right goals, we need to work together to enact health care reform that actually lowers costs and increases access to quality care. This can be accomplished through substantive, bipartisan discussions on commonsense reforms.
Numerous plans have been proposed for reforming Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. What changes need to be made/have you made/will you support making to these programs (if any)?
Medicare is a promise made to every American. My mom relies on this promise every day. However, we’ve reached a point when the fulfillment of this commitment is in jeopardy.
As we consider options to save Medicare, I will never support changing the benefits current recipients receive. At the same time, we have an obligation to ensure younger Americans can someday realize this promise. Therefore, I am willing to seriously consider any comprehensive, bipartisan proposal to save Medicare from bankruptcy and strengthen it for future generations.
To date I have supported two concepts as a starting point. Last year, I supported a concept that, beginning no earlier than 2023, future seniors — those now 54 and younger — could choose among a variety of federally guaranteed private plans. To participate, each plan would be required to offer a certain standard of care and coverage to every senior.
The concept protects lower-income seniors and the chronically ill by giving them a higher subsidy. The premium would be paid directly from Medicare to the insurer; it is not a “voucher” program that would hand seniors a check that could be exploited by bad actors offering fraudulent coverage. The recent bipartisan update to this concept allows future seniors to stay on traditional Medicare or pick a private plan, with Medicare paying the full cost of at least two options for every senior.
This year, I voted for a second concept to help save Medicare. The bipartisan budget (called “Cooper-LaTourette” and based on President Obama’s Simpson-Bowles Commission) brought together Republicans and Democrats to support a concept for Medicare that employs an accountable care approach, broader access to discount drugs, and measures to combat fraud, waste and abuse. While the effort fell far short of a majority vote, it is this concept of building a bipartisan consensus that must be utilized moving forward.
In both proposals, more work must be done. We owe current seniors fidelity after all they did for us. Future generations are counting on us, too. After all, they are paying into the program now.
This is a country that has proven we can do hard things. By working together, we will get this done.
Why should voters pick you on election day?
As a Representative, I’ve had the privilege of focusing on local issues that will improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. I have worked to help our communities recover and rebuild after the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. I’ve also worked on issues such as access to broadband internet in our rural communities, raising awareness and improving diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease, helping veterans transition from military duty to civilian life, and hosted a jobs fair to bring together local businesses with job seekers.
I have also been a leader in Congress on advancing bipartisan solutions that address fiscal responsibility. I was one of 38 members in the House (16 Republicans and 22 Democrats) who supported the only bipartisan budget considered in 2012. It is a pro-growth budget that generates new revenues through economic growth and by closing tax loopholes that allow us to lower rates for all Americans–especially small businesses and working families. We also commit to disciplined spending limits that both parties can support. Modeled after the Simpson-Bowles Fiscal Commission established by President Obama, the Cooper-LaTourette bipartisan budget reduces the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years and puts our debt-to-GDP ratio on a downward trajectory.
By working together to reach a bipartisan consensus and making some tough choices, I believe that our best days as a nation are ahead of us.
Gibson may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 845-481-4179 and online at www.chrisgibsonforcongress.com.