WSW: Matt Longjohn Says He Wants To Be Part Of "New Generation" In Congress

Sep 23, 2018

Matt Longjohn
Credit Gordon Evans / WMUK

Matt Longjohn says as a doctor who has worked on public health policy he became convinced that you can’t live your healthiest life with Representative Fred Upton in Congress.


Longjohn defeated three candidates to win the August Democratic primary in the 6th Congressional District. He is challenging Upton of the district that includes the Southwest corner of Michigan.

Health Care

Longjohn says his work has focused on health care innovation. He says that means improving the quality of care, reducing disease and saving money. Longjohn says one of those projects focused on preventing diabetes. He says that helped prevent new cases and saved money for Medicare. Asked about translating that into public policy, Longjohn says people can’t lose insurance for essential health programs. He says the Republican health care bill that Upton voted for last year would have cut preventive services. Longjohn says those programs help prevent costly diseases up front.

Economy

Longjohn says the economy “might be doing well for folks who have always done well,” but he says the tax bill that became law last year gives more and more advantage to “fewer and fewer people.” Longjohn says others are struggling to make ends meet, and he says many jobs don’t cover the basic necessities of life. Longjohn says the minimum wage should be $15 an hour, and he says benefits need to keep up to meet basic daily needs.

On taxes, Longjohn says there is a legitimate argument for reducing the corporate tax rate, but he says it should have been combined with closing tax loopholes and subsidies. Longjohn says the corporate tax rate should be lower, but should be an “effective tax rate” that doesn’t allow companies to use deductions to pay a much lower percentage.

Immigration

Longjohn says Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE has to be shut down and reconstituted. He says something like ICE is a requirement for the federal government, but he says the agency needs major changes. Longjohn says legislation that passed the Senate in 2013 was a good approach to immigration. He says it dealt with national security, people who came to the nation as young children and refugees. Longjohn says it also recognized that the economy needs more workers. He says something like that bill combined with some way of ensuring that zero tolerance policies are not implemented by federal agencies would represent sound immigration reform.

Bipartisanship

Longjohn says there is an opportunity for a bi-partisan coalition in the House to put people first and put a check on President Trump’s agenda when it’s “not rooted in law.” Longjohn says he’s encouraged by what he is seeing in Southwest Michigan and across country in mid-term elections. He says that includes more women, more minorities and more people from outside the sytem, like himself, running for Congress. Longjohn says a new generation of leaders is needed in both parties. He says 32 years is too long for Upton. Longjohn also says he won’t support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker if Democrats take control of the House in the November elections.

Discussion of other issues can be heard in the web version of the interview. 

PFAS’s

Longjohn says the federal government has to guarantee health and safe drinking water. He says science is evolving on the levels of PFAS’s that are dangerous. Longjohn says without the best data, the government needs to err on the side of safety.

Climate Change

Longjohn says science is clear that the climate is changing, and it’s caused by human activity. He says air and water quality standards need to be strengthened. Longjohn says Upton’s position changed on climate change when he became Chairman of House and Energy and Commerce committee.

Education

Longjohn there should be more funding for the public education system. He says that should include an investment in early childhood education. Longjohn also says federal education money shouldn’t be diverted to for-profit entities.

Military Force

17 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Longjohn says it’s time for Congress to reevaluate the powers its granted to fight terrorism. He says Congress and the American people need to know where military people are being sent and that the mission is clear.

Campaign

A poll conducted by Global Strategies Group was released by Longjohn’s campaign in August. It showed Longjohn within five points of Upton. The Democratic candidate says that poll and two others show a close race even though Upton has much higher name identification. Longjohn says it’s why his campaign was identified as a “red to blue race” by national Democrats.