For the first installment of our series of conversations with the 6th Congressional District candidates WRKF's Ashley Westerman spoke with independent candidate Richard P. Torregano.
Torregano is an electrical technician here in Baton Rouge. And a unique aspect of Torregano's run for office is a portion of his platform he calls "50+1".
Torregano told me it means he wants to see more religiously affiliated people elected to congress. Not just to address social issues but to help tackle the economic and healthcare policy issues dominating debate in Washington.
TORREGANO: What I'm suggesting is that I know no better group of people that I can trust, I can look in the eye, shake in the hand and ask them if they can support these principles, these platforms and that being, the clergy: brothers from Holy Cross Dominican, Catholic priests and sisters, Protestant ministers and Jewish rabbis.
WESTERMAN: You're not running this race with a party affiliation.
TORREGANO: That's correct. I don't consider myself a real conservative; I'm not a real liberal. I just believe there are certain policies you have to enact that make sense and sometimes when you're Democrat or a Republican, you're playing as politics and it doesn't make sense.
WESTERMAN: You want to see our nation's tax code rewritten and you think we should have a flat tax.
TORREGANO: That's correct.
WESTERMAN: Why do you think that's the way to go?
TORREGANO: Well, it's more than just a flat tax, because anybody below the poverty level would pay no federal income tax. They still have to file, but they pay no income tax. And it'll be a flat tax up to, now this is not a strict number, but, like, $2 million. Anybody making more than $2 million would be tied into the corporate rate. So, that's my flat rate tax. It's a little bit more difficult than just pure flat rate.
WESTERMAN: On The Jim Engster Show, you said you would repeal President Obama's health care reform law. What do you think is a better approach, then, to health care for Louisianans?
TORREGANO: Well, I think, from a business standpoint, it's a single payer system. Everybody pays their own health insurance as an individual. It would be based on age and income. You'd probably be paying from the time you're 19 until you die. Under my plan, Medicaid would go off immediately. Medicare would actually be phased out.
Now it also, it would be administered by third party administrators. You'd probably have, like, one tier would be somebody like accountants and bookkeepers who are actually paying the bills for the hospitals, the doctors, medicine, special care, all the things that are necessary. You'd have a second tier actually determining what kind of coverage would be allowed and what coverage won't. So and then you'd have a top tier who's making the policies, separate from Washington. They're making the, basically the policy and act as a clearing house for people who wanted to appeal, maybe some care that won't be or will be denied at some point. Now how do we...
WESTERMAN: So you're wanting to get rid of the...
TORREGANO: Now well I don't , wait, I don't...
WESTERMAN: ...insurance part of it.
TORREGANO: I don't say I want to get rid of it, but it would be, I mean, if people who had the money, they may want private insurance. That's still an option. I wouldn't deny them that.
WESTERMAN: Let's move on to a topic that is very dear to lots of Louisianans' hearts. You are the only candidate in this race that states specifically that restoring Louisiana's coastline is one of your main issues. What is your plan to do that?
TORREGANO: What I'm suggesting is to use the money that's obtained from gasoline excise tax. We pay 18.6 cents on a gallon of gasoline. So what I'm suggesting is that we raise it to 20 cents and instead of individuals paying it, the oil companies would pay it. And using that money - at least 50-percent of it, which is 10 cents, and use it to repair our coast, coastal restoration. We burn, or we currently use about 9.1 million gallons of oil a day. That $9 million dollars a day would probably produce $14.4 billion a year for Louisiana. So what I'm proposing is that $14 billion be set for the electrical grid, the bridges and coastal restoration.
WESTERMAN: Finally, what do you bring to the table that makes you a better candidate for Louisiana's 6th Congressional district seat than your opponents?
TORREGANO: Well, I think it's basically my platform. I believe the proposals I have listed and outlined on my website, RPT50+1, will greatly enhance the middle class economically. So I know of no better reason to vote for an Independent than for these reasons. And besides, at some point in your life, you need to take a stance and stand up for something, so that's also what I'm doing.
WESTERMAN: Richard Torregano, thank you so much for coming in and speaking with me today.
TORREGANO: You're quite welcome. Thank you for having me on your program.