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Queens Chronicle

Queens Republican seeks his turn in DC

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Posted: Thursday, October 28, 2010 12:00 am

Forget the pundits predicting that Republicans will win a small majority in the House of Representatives next week — Queens GOP candidate Bob Turner says it will be a “tsunami” for his party, and he intends to ride the wave right into the seat now held by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn).

Turner, a semi-retired TV executive from Richmond Hill who now lives in the Rockaways’ Breezy Point, is running on a platform of reforming Washington by reforming how Congress itself operates.

He said he would only serve two terms at the most if elected.

“I’m 69 years old, and this isn’t a career thing for me,” Turner said. “This is to me a call to duty. I’m going to do a job that needs to be done, and the things I want to do I think can be done mostly in the first term.”

He predicted the GOP will win between 70 and 80 seats next week, giving it a majority strong enough to pass meaningful reforms, though not enough to override any vetoes issued by President Obama.

Turner claimed the key to reforming the federal government is reforming how the House operates. He said changes need to be made in how bills are put on the table and how appropriations are made, but did not offer specific proposals in those areas.

Though he shies away from some of the most conservative positions proffered by Tea Party-backed candidates elsewhere in the country, like the partial privatization of Social Security and the sharp reduction of some programs that assist the poor, Turner supports much of what the political right is proposing this year.

He would eliminate the federal Department of Education, created during the Carter administration, contending that school matters can best be handled by the states alone.

He would preserve all the tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush, both those for the wealthy and the middle class, all of which will expire at the end of the year without congressional action.

And he would repeal the new healthcare law, which he described as a “deceit” and “manipulation” of the American people. Republicans may not have enough votes to repeal it outright and withstand a presidential veto, he said, but they will have enough to defund what he sees as the most noxious provisions, including the establishment of 245 new bureaucratic bodies and the individual mandate requiring all citizens to be insured.

“I would favor greater freedom for individuals to pick their plan,” he said, adding that those who really need assistance, like children with terrible diseases, could go into high-risk insurance pools. He acknowledged that those would be similar to the insurance exchanges that are part of the new law.

But, he added, he would also support tort reform to lower the malpractice insurance costs doctors face and then must pass on to their patients.

On another hot-button issue, Turner said he would do whatever he could to prevent the Islamic center proposed for downtown Manhattan from being built. In an interview this week with the Queens Chronicle editorial board, Turner said the center, commonly called the “Ground Zero mosque” though it would be two blocks north of the old World Trade Center, is planned where it is to be a symbol of radical Muslims’ victory over the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It’s being done with malice to put us in a no-win situation,” he said, adding that he will consider “all legal options” to block it. Pressed on whether that would constitute a violation of either the letter or spirit of the First Amendment, he declined to answer directly but said the plan is “hardly a bridge” between Islam and the majority of Americans, as its backers say.

Turner expressed confidence that he can defeat Weiner, the incumbent who criticizes his opponent as a radical. Weiner himself says it’s a competitive race between the two, noting that President Obama only took 55 percent of the vote in the district in 2008, far less than in many other parts of the city.

To reduce federal spending, Turner said he would eliminate agricultural subsidies and make other reductions elsewhere that he did not specify. And, he said, the income tax cuts he backs would stimulate economic growth to close the federal deficit, noting that President John F. Kennedy made the same argument when he pushed for reductions in 1963. Those were passed after he was slain.

Both then and in the early 1980s, when President Reagan got tax cuts through Congress, the economy responded by growing rapidly, increasing revenue, he added.

Welcome to the discussion.