Voters across Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District face a familiar choice in the Nov. 3 election.
Tricia Zunker is again challenging U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua. The Democrat unsuccessfully ran against Tiffany in May to replace former congressman Sean Duffy.
Since the May election, the nation has remained in the grips of a pandemic, people are protesting in the streets for racial justice and the economy remains uncertain for many after pandemic-related shutdowns.
Small businesses, family farmers and individuals who have lost jobs as a result of the pandemic all need support, Zunker said.
“I support funding to help them stay afloat, because I don’t think anyone should go bankrupt or lose their home because of this completely avoidable pandemic,” she said.
Tiffany acknowledged he didn’t support a Democratic house bill that would have earmarked $2.2 trillion to help people struggling as a result of the pandemic.
“I’m very concerned about it because it would provide stimulus checks for illegals and it would reinstate tax breaks for millionaires in California and New York,” Tiffany said.
However, he said, he would support reauthorizing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. About $138 billion from the CARES Act is available, but can’t be expended because the legislation expired in August.
“I’d like to see it reauthorized so it can be used … especially for the hospitality industry,” Tiffany said. “Restaurants and hotels are really hurting, generally speaking.”
Liability protections for businesses, schools and hospitals are also essential so they can perform their functions without the fear of being sued, Tiffany said. Information has changed over the course of the pandemic and being held liable for making decisions based on the best information available at the time is wrong, he said.
Affordable Care Act
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the future of the Affordable Care Act a week after the election.
Tiffany said he’d be willing to codify protections from surprise medical bills and protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
One way to make health care more affordable for people is to reinstate high-risk pools, like the one Wisconsin had before the Affordable Care Act, he said.
“It was a very good program; 80,000 Wisconsinites got their health insurance that way,” Tiffany said. “And we were able to take those high-risk people out of the pool. That way it lowered the insurance cost for everyone else in Wisconsin.”
Tiffany said he would favor directing federal money to states to develop their own high-risk insurance pools.
Zunker said she hopes the ACA is not struck down.
“We need to ensure that affordable health care is accessible to everybody," she said.
It’s essential to protect people with pre-existing conditions, she added, especially when becoming infected with the coronavirus could be deemed a pre-existing condition.
She said if the Affordable Care Act is struck down, she would do whatever is necessary to ensure people are protected.
Protests for racial justice
People have also been taking to the streets to protest police violence against people of color.
“I first and foremost want to say that I support law enforcement and the critical work that they do,” Zunker said.
However, she said, there are some who abuse their authority.
“We need to ensure better training and requirements for law enforcement,” Zunker said. “We should always be striving to do better.”
Tiffany said while protesting is a “time-honored tradition,” funding and supporting the majority of good police officers is essential to stop the rioting and looting that is taking place in some parts of the country.
House Republicans have a proposal to add $2 billion in federal funding for law enforcement agencies, including funding 500,000 body cameras so the public knows what is happening during police interactions, Tiffany said.
“I would like to see funding for rural police departments, so they have the necessary funding so they can do their jobs,” Tiffany said.
He said that’s vital to combating human trafficking and drugs that are tearing communities apart.