Andy Caldwell is running for election for the Republican Party to the U.S. House to represent California’s 24th Congressional District. “I am running for Congress because America faces not just one, but multiple crises,” Caldwell said in an interview. In 1991, Caldwell began fighting for more opportunities for workers and businesses as a founder of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business. Better (COLAB).
Why are you running?
I am running for Congress because America faces not just one, but multiple crises. We need leaders who will be guided by common sense, citizen representatives, not career politicians, who will serve our common interests rather than promote party politics.
On the broadest level, I want to restore constitutional principles to the government and defend our rights and opportunities as individuals and communities. I want to restore the American Dream. We need a Congressman who will lead, even when leading has political risks, rather than someone like Mr. Carbajal who is content to follow while hiding on politically safe ground.
I grew up poor. My father died when I was just 9 years old and I started working when I was 10 to help out. I never believed that anyone owed me anything – if I wanted a better life, it was up to me and God’s grace. I knew that if I worked hard, studied, lived with integrity, and stood up for what was right, I could build a better life.
That is the American Dream – and I believed in it, in part, because it was the only hope for a better life that I had. I still believe that – and I want that same opportunity for my children. However, more and more government control and spending are limiting these opportunities. I have spent the last 30 years, serving as a government watchdog, fighting for common-sense solutions – opposing regulations and laws that limit economic and personal liberty and supporting/proposing reforms to provide more individual freedom and the opportunity to build a better life.
The federal government has exceeded its constitutional authority and imposed itself on every aspect of people’s lives – at an enormous cost. I want to restore the constitutional balance of power by returning funding and authority to states, communities, and individuals.
I know my opponent, Salud Carbajal, well. He is not a leader and he is not bipartisan. He is nothing less than a party loyalist who follows orders in DC. However, he tells an altogether different story back here in the District. He has allowed self-described socialists in Congress to induce him to support extreme policies, like banning private health insurance and supporting the Green New Deal (which has little to do with the environment but will give federal bureaucrats control of our whole economy.)
Growing government isn’t the solution to every problem, and most people want to earn their success, not merely subsist on government handouts. The list of critical issues facing America and the Central Coast continues to pile up.
What are the main challenges in your district and what are your proposals?
California’s 24th District has some of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in the entire nation. Montecito is one of the wealthiest in the nation and Salud represented this district while he was a county supervisor. Santa Maria, a primarily Latino working-class community, is one of the poorest in the nation. It is a community that Salud has, and continues, to ignore!
We have a housing crisis, a homeless crisis, a water crisis, an infrastructure crisis, an education crisis, and now an economic crisis.
And the current approach – bigger, more expensive federal spending/control – on all these issues have made the problems worse.
Healthcare is a critical issue – it’s too expensive, confusing, and uncertain. But the answer isn’t forcing everyone onto Medicare, which will reduce quality, access to care, and innovation. I will promote more transparency and competition to reduce costs without stifling innovation or healthcare choices.
We collect billions from taxpayers for infrastructure, yet a study by non-partisan transportation research group TRIP shows that almost 70% of CA roads are in disrepair. I support diverting ALL federal funding from the disastrous “high-speed rail” project to make our highways safer and better. We can also do more to eliminate regulatory barriers to road improvements.
Spending on homeless in CA has increased to over $1 Billion per year, yet homelessness has increased every year while little is spent on the root causes. I would eliminate the failed “housing first” policy for homelessness dictated by the Federal government and push for states and communities to start addressing addiction and mental health issues that cause homelessness in the first place.
Primary education spending has increased to a record high, yet scores continue to fall. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed, but rather than deal with costs, Congress just keeps promoting more subsidies, which increases costs further. I support reversing the current policies – send the money and the authority back to the states.
The Central Coast has a severe housing crisis. I have advocated market solutions for years, but instead of dealing with the cost, politicians add MORE fees and regulations. I will use my position and bully pulpit in Congress to speed up approval processes and reduce fees in order to lower costs and allow the market to determine what kind of housing people want. On that note, when Salud Carbajal was a County Supervisor, he actually supported a policy, in Montecito no less, that deemed more housing as a threat to public health!
Agriculture is one of California’s most important economic sectors – even more so for the Central Coast. Farmers need water to grow crops, workers to harvest them, and trucks to get them to market. In all these areas, Federal regulations choke off the water, limit access to workers, and drive up transportation costs. We must change that.
Energy is also a critical sector for our local economy and national security. Energy production provides good-paying jobs that support families. I support efforts that promote clean air and reduce pollution, but the actions to ban fossil fuels is extreme and would ruin the lives of tens of thousands of families.
How do you assess the government – White House and Congress – amidst the Coronavirus crisis?
I think the government as a whole – federal, state, and local – has been making decisions in the grip of panic while ignoring both historic and factual information in a rush to “do something”. They shut down the economy without looking at alternatives. If we can wear masks and social distance at home or the grocery store, there is no reason we cannot do the same at work or at church.
Congress has played political games and used the crisis as a political tool to reward their financial backers and support their radical activist base.
In response to the immediate virus crisis, my priority and promise will be to represent the needs and interests of the Central Coast. In addition, our country needs to consider what we have learned and what we must do to get ourselves out of this crisis.
- Create a long-term plan to sever our dependence and vulnerability to China as we resume our role as leaders of the free world.
- Rebuild our economy in order to bring us out of this man-made, panic-induced recession.
- Form a coalition of leaders who will serve all of America based upon facts, common sense, reason, and a commitment to what is best for America, including reestablishing our constitutional rights as Americans. This will require the abandonment of radical political ideologies that have made us vulnerable to exploitation from within and without.
I want Congress to start following the Constitution and focus on common-sense solutions instead of radical policies; rational debate instead of partisan games; and support for the American People instead of special interests.
What is your position on immigration?
I am the son of an immigrant. I believe that legal immigration makes America great and has fueled our nation’s success. But immigration policies need to be about what is best for our country – not some global idealism.
They have to be sensible, rational, and legal. I share Teddy Roosevelt’s sentiment that we should welcome immigrants who come here to become Americans, who will contribute to the community, and who desire to build a better life instead of government handouts.
We need comprehensive immigration reform that will speed up the legal process, create a guest-worker program, and secure our borders.
Are you satisfied with President Trump’s policies?
I have been very satisfied with his economic policies and judicial appointments, and I applaud his efforts to shrink or eliminate federal regulations, along with his passion for standing up for our rights and religious liberty.
Do you support or oppose the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)? Why?
Yes. I believe in free-trade. Mexico and Canada are our strongest trading partners. China, on the other hand, continues to lie, cheat, and steal. I support trade pacts that will protect American jobs, and products, and gave our partners the chance to succeed with us.
We must bring as many jobs back to America from China as soon as possible.
My second choice is to bring these jobs back to Mexico and Canada!