State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, officially kicked off her campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, on Thursday (Jan. 16). The Democratic Congressional challenger tells Talk Business & Politics she wants to improve current health care models, applauds recent trade deals despite the negotiating tactics, and thinks the case for impeachment should move forward.
Elliott said that she’s not for wiping out the Affordable Care Act, but wants to find ways to improve it.
“I think the approach I would take is to try to find a way to get to universal coverage. But universal coverage, to me, starts with where we are and improving what we have already,” she said. “We’ve got what we have now with the Affordable Healthcare Act. That’s a platform to move to the next step and the next step. But there’s no way we can do it all of a sudden.”
Elliott said there’s “no need to dismantle” the ACA, but she supports experimenting with other ways to provide health care coverage for those still left out.
“I think if we start out with a thoughtful universal plan, no matter how people are getting health insurance, I think down the road somewhere we might morph into something that we’ll all be happy with. But in the meantime, it’s about just getting coverage for people who are not there and improving what we’ve got. That’s a crucial thing,” she said.
Elliott sees potential good benefits from the recently passed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the Phase 1 China deal. While she credits President Trump for the achievements, she’s also concerned with the toll the negotiations have taken on American workers and farmers.
“One of the things that I really appreciate about it, when NAFTA was passed, there was a lot of concern from factory workers, people who were union workers, that this was really going to put a squeeze on them. And with the folks who had many issues with it last time around, I think we’re perhaps a lot happier with it from what I understand about it,” said Elliott, who says she would have voted for the USMCA measure.
On China, Elliott said the tough tariff talks brought the Far East superpower to the table, but she did not like the financial hardships it placed on farmers and consumers.
“I do want to praise the President for that (China) because I’m not just anti- ‘anything President Trump does’ if it’s a good thing to do. But I think we have to be more thoughtful though about how we bring people to the table because in the process of doing that, we are now having to pay farmers billions of dollars because we upset something that was already working for them,” she said.
“I don’t think we should get into the thing of ‘no matter the means.’ The means of getting to something do matter. And while the outcome is something that I think can move us to a higher platform and perhaps have a better agreement, I’m not sure that we couldn’t have done that had we been more thoughtful about it in the first place and saved billions of dollars, and farmers in this case would not see their corn, their soybeans, and everybody else, seeing Brazil getting that market. And so, we lost a market that we’re actually paying for to get to this point,” she added.
On the subject of impeachment, Elliott is supportive of the House action to bring articles against President Trump related to the Ukraine matter. She contends Trump did break the law in delaying financial aid to Ukraine and she thinks the legislative branch ought to hold the executive branch accountable for actions.
“I think it does rise to the level of impeachment because what I think we need to be careful about is people tend to think impeachment means we have removed him from office. And what the impeachment actually is an investigation to see if whatever has happened merits further inquiry,” she said. “And when you inquire, if you see issues that are strong enough that you think, ‘This should actually go to trial,’ so to speak, just like an indictment, it doesn’t say the president is wrong to the point that we are going to remove him from office. This should go further and let’s have a trial.”
Elliott cited a recent GAO (Government Accountability Organization) report that claims Trump did break the law in withholding aid.
“We can’t have presidents going rogue like that,” she said.
Watch Elliott’s full interview below.