Rich Eichholz says after the 2016 election he did what many people did – asked if “I was doing everything I can.” Eichholz says he has been concerned for years about growing income disparity, and its impact on economic growth.
A biologist and business executive, Eichholz is one of six Democrats running for Congress in Southwest Michigan’s 6th Congressional district. The winner of the August primary will challenge Republican Congressman Fred Upton in the fall.
Eichholz says the United States had a good balance between profit and the wages in the 1950’s and 60’s. But he says the trend has been going the wrong way. Eichholz says stagnant wages are not good for a consumer-based economy. He says taxes should go back up to where they were during the Obama administration and the cap on income taxed for Social Security should be lifted. Eichholz says the loss of union influence has also kept wages down.
Eichholz says the United States should work towards universal health care. He says the rest of the developed world has better health outcomes that the United States at less cost. But he says there are a variety of systems used in other countries that include a mix of private and public involvement. Eichholz says the first step he would favor is a public option on the federal health care exchanges.
While supporting renewable energy, Eichholz says a green economy isn’t in competition with other forms of manufacturing. He says they are complimentary. Eichholz says the goal should be leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
Eichholz says there should be more support for pre-kindergarten programs, and all public schools should be brought up to standard. Eichholz also supports Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal for a transaction tax on Wall Street trades to help provide relief for people with student loan debt. Eichholz says if enough money could be raised to also pay for tuition, he would support that.
Asked about an immigration policy that emphasizes bringing in skilled workers, Eichholz says the U.S. should ask why it needs people with expert training when the country is supposed to have the best education system in the world. Eichholz says American traditions have been to help the tired, poor, and hungry. He says that approach has been successful. Eichholz says every wave of immigration has helped the United States culturally and economically.
Three of the Democrats running in the 6th district have raised more money than Eichholz. He says it’s hard to raise money, and acknowledges that a couple of other candidates in the race are quite good at bringing in campaign contributions. But Eichholz says he has a wide net of donors, and a lot of people have committed to contribute when the primary is over. Eichholz says the path to victory for a Democrat in the 6th district is very straight forward – turn out all the Democrats and convince some moderate Republicans and independents who have voted for Fred Upton to cast their first vote for a Democrat.
Discussion of other issues can be heard in the extended web version of the interview.
Eichholz says a collective response is needed on gun violence. He says in the end, consensus is needed on a plan that people in different groups can support. Eichholz says believes there is a constitutional right to own guns for hunting and defense of the home. But he says it’s important to figure out how much we want guns in our society. Eichholz says he thinks that gun regulation should mostly be a state issue, but he says a federal background check system is needed.
Asked about the conditions under which military action is warranted, Eichholz says if there is an imminent threat to the homeland. He says Congress should restore its role in authorizing military action.
Based in Union Pier, Eichholz says his campaign is working in all six counties in the 6th Congressional District. He says building a base in Kalamazoo County is crucial for a Democratic Congressional candidate. Eichholz says having a scientist represent the district would be a change. He says Congressman Fred Upton doubled down on climate change denial during his time leading the House Energy and Commerce Committee.