|Bob Costello is an attorney and is retired from the 36th District Court, where he served as a magistrate for 22 years. Before being a magistrate, he was a trial attorney in private practice, an employment counselor, a school teacher, and a factory UAW worker. He holds degrees from Detroit College of Law, Wayne State University and the University of Detroit.|
Five candidates — U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, Bob Costello, Brenda Lawrence, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters and Mary Waters — are competing in the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary election for the Democratic nomination for the 14th U.S. Congressional District seat. The winner will take on the Republican nominee in the Nov. 6 general election. U.S. representatives serve two-year terms and are currently paid $174,000 annually.
The following are the questions we posed to Costello, and his responses to those questions.
BUDGET: As a member of Congress, you will help determine the federal government’s budget, which this year is quickly approaching a dubious milestone: The fourth consecutive year in which there are deficits of $1 trillion or more. In addition, the federal debt is nearing the $16 trillion mark. What spending priorities do you have, and where would you cut back the country’s ledgers to get the U.S. on a more sustainable fiscal path?
COSTELLO: The huge deficits of the yearly federal budgets and the massive federal debt is frightening.
Higher tax revenues and lower federal spending in both military and social areas are needed. The budget cuts should protect key defense considerations and the most-at-risk of our citizens, and be balanced by investments that spur economic growth. A growing economy is needed not only for jobs but for increased tax revenue. I agree with many Simpson-Bowles plan ideas, including fundamental tax reform, savings in entitlement programs and comprehensive Social Security reform. If we do not spend less and collect more tax revenue, greater inflation will result, which will hurt all wage earners and especially those on fixed incomes.
ECONOMY: Slowly but surely, signs of economic life are emerging after years of a prolonged recession that devastated the nation’s economy. Yet we still face employment of over 8 percent nationally and 8.3 percent here in Michigan. What more needs to be done to bring the American back to the thriving economy it once enjoyed?
COSTELLO: The Great Recession which has been happening is more similar to the 1930s financial collapse than to any recession the U.S. has had since the 1930s. Banks have made great progress but are still writing off uncollectable bad debts due to mortgage foreclosures and commercial loans. The current unemployment levels of 8.2 percent nationally and 8.3 percent in Michigan are way too high. There must be more job creation, which can only happen if banks extend more credit to credit-worthy businesses and customers. The federal government should legislate to encourage this extension of more credit. Also the feds should do more spending for infrastructure improvement, especially in repairing aging and damaged roads, bridges and sewage systems. This will result in more economic activity, jobs and ultimately tax revenue.
NATIONAL DEFENSE: It’s been over a decade since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and over a year since Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden. Yet the country remains embroiled in a war in Afghanistan and other conflicts in the Middle East to a lesser extent. What, if anything, would you do differently in the realm of national defense and protecting the country from terrorists? What are the threats from abroad that concern you most, and why?
COSTELLO: We must leave Afghanistan. In the past 120 years, both the British and the Russians were not successful there. We will not be successful either. In the Middle East we must support our ally Israel against outside threats, especially from Iran.
In my opinion our greatest foreign threats are from Islamic terrorism and China. The War on Terror should continue through diplomacy with the hosting country, giving and denying foreign aid, and with occasional forays through the use of drones. We must contain China as we were successful in doing with the Soviet Union. In addition, our continued success as an international power is directly related to our continued success in being an economic power.
BIPARTISANSHIP: Rancor between the two major political parties is seemingly at an all-time high when there are serious issues for the country to tackle, leaving hopes dim that major things can be accomplished in a bipartisan, cooperative way. Explain how you would go about working with the other side of the aisle on critical issues facing our nation. Tell us one thing you would be willing to compromise on with the other side of the political aisle. What’s one issue on which your party’s platform should more closely resemble that of the other political party?
COSTELLO: Washington needs integrity and common sense. I am tired of the whipsaw effect — the extremes of both parties have been controlling the legislative agendas. Some legislators seem to like to take extreme positions and then merely argue. This is not helpful for needed legislation. There must be more compromise, especially in economic and immigration matters. As a policy maker, I would be a solutions-based congressman.
HEALTH CARE: What measures would you put in place to insure that Americans get greater access to health care?
COSTELLO: The Affordable Care Act is constitutional, except for some Medicaid provisions. Now administrative rules are being written for the implementation of this law. These laws must ensure medical care for people and prevent financial ripoffs for hospitals, health professionals, pharmaceutical companies and providers of medical technology.
Also several changes must be made in this law, including no federal payment for abortions, conscience protection for religious views of health professionals, and Congress having the same health system as all other Americans. Among other changes the Secretary of Health and Human Services should not have the power to decide what is health care in all cases. If a medical topic or procedure is reasonably to very controversial, then Congress should decide.
TOP ISSUES: What are the three most important issues to the 14th Congressional District at this time and how would you address them?
COSTELLO: No. 1. Washington’s direct attack on religious freedom, a basic First Amendment right. The federal government is forcing Catholics and Catholic institutions (hospitals, schools, homeless shelters, etc.) to violate long standing Catholic teaching or pay huge fines, by ordering the providing of birth control, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization to employees. This is just not a Catholic issue. If Washington targets Catholics, what will happen in the future to people of other religious faiths? Then the door is opened to government incursion upon our other basic First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and of the press.
No. 2, national debt (see answer to budget question).
No. 3, jobs (see answer to economy question).
WHY YOU? Why should voters choose you rather than your opponent?
COSTELLO: I pledge to be honest, to vote as my conscience directs, and to work hard.
I am not a professional politician as are all the other Democratic candidates. I do not owe anybody anything.
I have worked hard as a magistrate of the 36th District Court (retired after 22 years) where I heard over 380,000 cases in my courtroom. I know how to work hard.