Maryland's Second Congressional district is represented by liberal former Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger. The second Republican challenger in the district is Dr. Marcelo Cardarelli. Born in Argentina, according to Cardarelli, "...in 2002...[he] became a proud American citizen." Cardarelli is a highly recognized medical doctor who co-founded the World Society for Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgery. Currently, Cardarelli is a faculty member at the University of Maryland Baltimore and currently is the President of the Faculty Senate. After requesting an interview, Dr. Cardarelli was willing to answer some of my questions:
Matthew Newman: Checking out your website, I found that you have an impressive career in the field of medicine. That said, what made you decide to shift gears and run for Congress?
Marcelo Cardarelli: I was born in Argentina but I spent half of my life in America and I became an American by choice several years ago. After all these years I can tell you that this is a very different America than the one I came to love over 25 years ago. A polarized country, a deeply in-debt country, a country that is slowly but surely turning from the land of opportunity into the land of entitlements.
Those of us who had first hand experiences in similar “Land of Entitlement” countries in Latin America know what happens. I have seen this movie before and the ending is not a happy one.
MRN: How would you rate our incumbent Congressman, Dutch Ruppersberger?
MC: From the point of view of those who voted for him over the last 8 years with the intention to have a Democrat as their representative in Congress, I would have to give him an A+. He has been a true blood Democrat all the way, voted 97% of the time along the wishes of Speaker Pelosi and has never questioned the party positions.
Now, if you are asking how I feel about him as my Representative in Congress, I guess an F is the best I can do for him.
MRN: There is a "Repeal It" movement being led by the Club for Growth and conservatives in Congress. What is your thought on this movement?
MC: Repeal and Replace with a better piece of legislation is key. The current bill does nothing (despite claims on the contrary) to address the bigger problem, which is COSTS. Today, 46% of every dollar spent on healthcare comes from government. After this law, we will pass the 50% mark. Without cost containment there is no sustainable healthcare.
MRN: When talking about the deficit, you mentioned that "We owe it to ourselves, to our children and to their children who will never enjoy the opportunities we had, unless we change course." What legislative proposals would you suggest to help us change course?
MC: When I talk about our children and grandchildren, I am trying to convey how worried I am about the future. I do not want my children to become immigrants looking for a brighter future. I already paid that price. Not only I do believe, but actually know from my past experiences, that without a Balanced Budget Amendment, Fair tax reform, Healthcare cost reform, Social Security and Medicare funding revision and a plan to reduce the size of our Federal Debt ($13T) the future generations will inherit a very different America.
MRN: If elected, what would be the first piece of legislation you would propose and why?
MC: One of my first legislative tasks would be to gather enough support from Representatives of both parties to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment, preventing this or any future government from increasing our debt in order to finance their political agenda.
MRN: What is your opinion on HR 1207, the legislative proposal by Congressman Ron Paul to audit the Federal Reserve?
MC: I support transparency in government at any level. I am not familiar with all the details on this bill, so I will give you my opinion about what I know. The Federal Reserve is already audited 3 times a year by external agencies. My understanding is that this bill proposes that Congress will be doing the auditing. Looking at the current status of the country’s finances and all the bailouts and stimulus packages that they implemented, I would not trust the current Congressmen and Senators to do a good job auditing a 7-Eleven.
MRN: One of your stimulus replacement proposals is to establish "A Year Without Taxes" for individuals / families making $250,000 or less a year. How do you think a year without income taxes would impact the national debt and could it be paid exclusively with existing funds?
MC: What I meant in the campaign website is that instead of this stimulus package (which had a price tag of $787B) paid for with IOUs, for the same price tag Congress could have freed all of us from paying our income tax for 2009. I believe it would have been a better and less regressive way to stimulate the economy. This would allow the forces of market (you and me) to decide where the money flows, instead of having Congress decide based on their political needs and convenience.
MRN: On your website, you mention that we need to simplify our taxes. What specific proposals would you recommend to simplify the tax code?
MC: Presently, our tax code is complicated, unfair and full of loopholes. So complex that even the head of the IRS used a tax consultant to file his taxes this year.
Although the current administration will deny it, I suspect changes to our tax code are coming after November. We need to be alert. There are basically two fair alternatives to the current system. One way to simplify would be the implementation of a VAT combined with a repeal of the 16th Amendment (to abolish income taxes). The alternative would be a Flat Tax rate. Both have advantages and disadvantages and we could debate those. What we need to oppose for sure is the implementation of a VAT on top of the current income tax scheme. That would be catastrophic for the economy.
One last point on tax reform, China, a communist country, doesn’t have taxes on capital gains, but we do. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with that picture?
MRN: How do you feel your experiences help qualify you for this position?
MC: In order to become a pediatric heart surgeon you need to develop several skills. You need to be able to troubleshoot a life/death situation in under a minute knowing that the life of a child depends on it. You need to keep calm under stress. You learn to make your decisions based on facts and information, not emotions. You need to be perseverant and almost develop a taste for delayed gratification. You need to learn to discuss a plan for very sick patients with members of a team with whom you may disagree eventually choosing what is best, not necessarily for you, but for the patient.
When it comes to healthcare in particular, my degree in Public Health helped me understand the very complex intricacies of our healthcare system. The potential solutions to healthcare access and costs are not simple and difficult choices will have to be made. Knowing the facts is fundamental if we truly want to fix the system.
As a surgeon and a public health investigator turned Congressman I believe many of these skills will become handy in trying to save this country from its uncertain future.
But one of the most significant experiences comes from growing up in Argentina, which after 60 years of populist regimes went from being the 4th largest economy in the world to a failed society. I do not want that to happen to America.
MRN: You come into this race as an underdog without the political experience of former County Executive and current incumbent Dutch Ruppersberger. How do you expect to fare in the general election?
MC: I am not only the underdog but also an outsider. I’m not a politician and will never be one. I believe that’s why I will do very well. Congressman Ruppersberger is vulnerable, he knows it and we know it. It all comes down to how the people of the 2nd District feel. If they think, as I do, that Congressman Ruppersberger has helped move the country in the wrong direction, then it is time for them to say it.
MRN: There is currently one other expected Republican candidate in the race, Troy Stouffer. Would you endorse Mr. Stouffer if you do not win in a primary?
MC: I shook hands with Mr. Stouffer at Governor Ehrlich’s announcement. I believe we both understand that the objective is to defeat Congressman Ruppersberger in November. Which one of us will do the job more efficiently is up to the voters in the primary to decide. Of course I will support the outcome.
MRN: What is one thing you want to ensure that potential voters know about you / your candidacy?
MC: I will go to Congress if elected, not as a politician but as a physician and educator and I will vote based on facts and not rhetoric or emotional appeals. I will do my job to the best of my abilities, trying to reduce the size, reach and burden of our government. I will be accessible to the people of the 2nd district and after a maximum of 3 terms I will not seek re-election as a Representative since I believe in term-limits for every elected official.
I thank Dr. Cardarelli for his time and his willingness to participate. His platform and experiences make him a unique candidate this year, especially. If you'd like to learn more about his campaign, check out his official website here.
Cross-posted to Old Line Elephant