After more than 40 years in congress, Republican Representative Don Young, the Dean of the House, has a neatly tailored act he brings back home every so often to update constituents while taking a few questions. He was in Kenai for a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce Tuesday.
Young hit on a variety of topics during his roughly 40 minute address and Q and A session, leading off with a few thoughts on the most recently-elected congress, now dominated by Democrats who are younger and more diverse than ever.
“This is the strangest group I’ve ever seen elected. I have to remind you, and myself, that the people elected them. So I’ll respect that. I just really don’t know where they’re coming from and it concerns me as far as this nation goes.”
Without mentioning it specifically, Young played up the idea that some of the fundamental economic changes proposed in New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal would lead to a doomed brand of socialism.
“There are people talking about free education, free medical care. Oh, by the way if you don’t want to work, we’ll pay you. I can go on down the line. That is not progress. That is regression...I tell you how far it’s gone, though; Nancy Pelosi is considered a moderate."
On health care, Young offered no vision for getting affordable access and coverage to more Alaskans. Instead he pointed to people who come to the U.S. for medical care from of countries like Canada and U.K., which have extensive public health programs, as evidence that a more socialized approach won’t work here.
“We have some problems in health care, there’s no doubt about that. I just don’t think what she or anybody else is advocating will be better health. You’ll have a piece of paper, but it doesn’t mean anything. You’ll stand in line for six months to get treated when you should get treated in three weeks...If you don’t believe me, travel to those other countries. (It) sounds good, looks good. But in reality it’s bad health care.”
Young noted that he’s served alongside nine presidents and he says even though Trump wasn’t his candidate in 2016, he’s been impressed with what Trump’s presidency has meant for resource development in Alaska. And while calls for Trump’s impeachment grow steadily louder, they’re still not coming from Young.
“But this has become a political vendetta. You know, until the report came down, (Special Council Robert) Mueller was the Democrats’ friend. He was a hero. He was doing the right thing. Then the report came down and it didn’t say what you want it to say, now he’s a villain. Bullshavings...I do believe they’re making a mistake. And you notice, Nancy Pelosi, bless her heart, says we’ve got other things to do. This nation has other problems we should be solving together. It’s not right for the country. It’s not going to happen.”
The president, his campaign and associates remain under more than a dozen state and federal investigations. Young says the better method is to let the elections in 2020 play out. Young will be seeking his own reelection next year, extending a number of records for service in the House.
“I made a comment many years ago when I first started that I’ll serve as long as Alaskans want me to serve. I never quit anything in my life. And if I’m good at what I’m doing, I’m going to continue to do if I’m physically and mentally capable of doing it. And you’ll decide when there’s a young person to come up, you better vote on somebody who comes up and wants to do this job and not run for senate or the governor. You better have somebody who’s willing to serve 25 years and no less than that, because when you have one member of Congress, the only real strength you have is your longevity and your capability to understand other people.”
Young will be 86 as he runs for a 25th term.