Georgia 6th: Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel on the issues

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked the candidates in the 6th Congressional District special election how they would approach several issues facing the district and the country today.

Does the federal government have a role in making sure Americans have health insurance? If so, what would you do to replace or improve the Affordable Care Act? 

Karen Handel: It is not the federal government's role to dictate health care choices and decisions to Americans. Americans need a stable, affordable health care system that is market-driven and patient-centered. Congress needs to repeal and replace Obamacare before the entire program collapses, leaving tens of millions of us in jeopardy. The recent bill in Congress, although not perfect, would have been a first step forward for the American people.

Jon Ossoff: It's time to move beyond the 7-year-old partisan debate over the Affordable Care Act. I will work with anyone to promote a health care policy that serves three basic principles: One, no American should suffer or die from preventable or treatable illness. Two, no one should go broke because they get sick. And three, no business should go under or lay off employees because it can't keep up with health insurance premiums. In Congress, I'll work in a bipartisan way so Americans have more choices at better prices with higher quality care. For example, we can increase competition in the insurance market across state lines, offer small business tax credits, and repeal the medical device tax.

Should insurance companies be able to charge people more for health insurance if they have pre-existing conditions? 

Handel: Those with pre-existing conditions should not be priced out of the market. We need an insurance pool to help spread the risk broadly, lower costs and SET some boundaries on the premiums.

Ossoff: No. Responsible leaders of both parties agree that no American should face financial ruin, suffer or die because they have a pre-existing condition

Aside from simplifying the nation’s tax code, what changes to the tax system would you make your top priority? 

Handel: When looking at the tax code, I would want to lower individual rates with fewer brackets, lower the corporate rate, repatriate overseas income, permanently repeal the death (estate) tax, and review the tax breaks and incentives.

Ossoff: A country reveals a lot about its character by the tough choices it makes to balance the books. Any reform to the tax code should include aggressive simplification to ease compliance and improve profitability and competitiveness of American enterprise. The benefits of tax reform should not only flow to the largest organizations that have extraordinary access to congressional committees, but also to small and medium-size businesses and new ventures that have more difficulty raising capital, developing products, and competing with established firms. And in order to lower tax rates, we can eliminate carve-outs and special treatment in the tax code that privilege large organizations at the expense of small businesses.

How would you improve mobility and decrease gridlock in the 6th District? 

Handel: As a former county commission chairman, I understand that state and local elected officials, with their local constituents, drive the specific plans for transportation infrastructure. I will work hand in hand with local leaders and fight to ensure that (the district) receives its fair share of federal transportation funding. I will also work to reduce the red tape and bureaucracy that gets in the way and hinders our local governments from doing their jobs to improve infrastructure in our communities.

Ossoff: Our next congressperson has to be prepared to help grow our high-tech economy here into the Silicon Valley of the South and make metro Atlanta one of the world's great commercial cities. That means we need cutting-edge, efficient, reliable transportation solutions that will power our economy. If the administration introduces a fiscally responsible infrastructure bill, I'll work in a bipartisan way to make sure it delivers transformative solutions to Georgia.