If elected to the new Queens congressional district centered around Flushing, Bayside allergist Dr. Robert Mittman wants to fight to change the health care system he said is in dire need of help.?
Mittman sat down with TimesLedger Newspapers last week to talk about his platform in the race for the newly drawn district, which extends from western neighborhoods like Elmhurst, Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village eastward through Forest Hills, Rego Park and Flushing to encompass Bayside and Hollis Hills.
Mittman is running his grassroots campaign for the June 26 Democratic primary against three currently sitting lawmakers — City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and state Assembly members Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Grace Meng (D-Flushing).
Mittman often portrays his opponents as career politicians, though the others in the race have served as lawmakers for five years or less.
“All we need is the average person to spend a few years in Congress and vote on common-sense ideas,” said Mittman, who recently signed a pledge indicating he would only serve four two-year terms if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He also believes U.S. senators should only serve for two six-year terms.
On the issues, health care reform is on top of the doctor’s list.
The Medicare donut hole, which refers to a lapse in coverage that requires some seniors to pay full price for medications, should be eliminated, he said.
And waste and fraud could be eliminated by cutting down on people who Mittman said take advantage of entitlement programs, like food stamps.
While the intention was good, Obama’s health care mandate would put so much pressure on small business owners that it will create a disincentive to add employees, Mittman said.
“What happens when you own a little shop that has two or three people and you want to add another person?” Mittman asked. “You now have another mandated health care program.”
Mittman has some solid numbers to augment his campaign: He would cut foreign aid, which constitutes 1 percent of the federal budget, by half. He would also like to cut the military budget, which constitutes about 20 percent of the budget, by one-third.
Troops should come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the allergist, and the government should focus resources on building up infrastructure here and not there.
Israel has also come up often in the race, and like the other hopefuls Mittman is a staunch supporter of the country. He not only blasted the United States for not recognizing people born in Jerusalem as Israeli on their passports — a thorny issue stemming from both Israel and Palestine claiming rights to the city —but Mittman thinks the United States should butt out of negotiations altogether.
“If they want to have a two-state solution, let them decide,” he said.
The issue of foreign trade also ruffled the doctor’s feathers.
Mittman detailed a grand plan to entice pharmaceutical companies to move their manufacturing operations back to the United States from abroad, where drugs are produced more cheaply. He said subsidies and tax breaks could help make the move financially feasible, and closer regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would prevent price spikes.
The move would also bring manufacturing jobs back from countries like China, which Mittman repeatedly referred to as “red” or “communist” China during the interview.
On American soil, Mittman is supportive of the NYPD and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“I trust him to protect us. I trust the Police Department and I think 99 percent of police are honest,” he said.
Mittman backs the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy and said whether or not it violates the rights of New Yorkers is a matter for the courts.
He defended many of his positions with anecdotes told to him by his patients. When he talked of a common sense economy, he brought up the Solyndra scandal, which refers to the solar power company that received $535 million in loan guarantees from the federal government before going belly up.
Mittman contends the money would have been better spent by putting solar panels on top of schools and letting the free market decide the best manufacturer.
The federal government has given out nearly $35 billion in loans for clean energy projects. The Solyndra loan represented 1.3 percent of that money.
Mittman was born and raised in Bayside and went through public schools before graduating from Queens College. After earning his medical degree, he set up his practice on Bell Boulevard.