By MICHAEL C. BAILEY
Fall River native Daniel S. Botelho is banking on his mix of “Wall Street meets Main Street” experience to propel his campaign for the Ninth Congressional District.
“I feel that there isn’t anyone else with my brand of common sense that is running,” Mr. Botelho said, “and I don’t think the other candidates really have a clear idea of their decisions and how they impact people.”
Mr. Botelho is running as a non-party candidate against two party-backed opponents, Congressman William R. Keating (D) and Plymouth Republican Christopher Sheldon, and while he admits he’s at a financial disadvantage, he’s hoping his grass-roots approach will level the playing field come November.
“I’m going old-school, and what that means is doing a lot of footwork,” he said, “and to be honest, I wouldn’t want all that (campaign) money. This shouldn’t be about how much money you can raise…advocating for people means you need to meet them, you need to be out there.”
“It’s worked pretty well thus far. We’re beginning to gain some traction,” Mr. Botelho said, “but we have a lot of work to still do.”
A political newcomer, Mr. Botelho is highlighting in his campaign his first-hand experience helping his parents run a small business in the Fall River garment industry and, as an adult, his background in the financial industry. Mr. Botelho currently works at Bank of America as an officer senior operations analyst in the bank’s Global Financial Operations (GFO) group.
In his younger days “I saw what regulation can do to a relative small business,” when trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the 1992 trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, “killed our business” and cost about 350 people their jobs.
That is why Mr. Botelho listed cracking down on the United States’ trade partners and making them honor the provisions of such agreements as on his “top 10 list” of priorities should he be elected. “If we’re importing from you, you need to abide by our trade agreements, otherwise we’re not going to follow it because you’re not,” he said.
Domestically, on matters of the economy and job growth, Mr. Botelho said he would take a balanced approach to dealing with all sizes of business, recognizing that businesses large and small contribute in their own ways to the nation’s economic health.
“We can’t demonize completely Wall Street. They have some of the blame” in the nation’s current economic crisis, he said, “but we do need markets where people can own shares and you can go out and build capital.”
When it comes to federal finances, Mr. Botelho said he would apply basic business principles to how the government operates. “I really would like these guys to sit down and, before they start their spending plan, they look at and project their revenue, just like a company would,” he said, “and then budget their expenses to that. You’d eliminate the deficit if you only did that.”
Spending cuts should be across all government departments and programs to avoid the battles that often result in Congress as elected officials fight to save their pet programs, he said, and departments would have to determine “employment to appropriate levels” necessary to accomplish their jobs.
Mr. Botelho said he would support deficit spending only in the case of emergency situations such as providing aid to disaster-stricken areas. “I’ll put myself in hock to help the American people, any day of the week,” he said.
He added that “you can’t talk budgets without talking taxation,” and advocated for a national consumption tax, a direct tax on goods and services, and ending “the 100-year experiment of the (federal) income tax system.”
“Everyone always talks about how we need to streamline the tax code, how we need to get rid of loopholes,” and a flat consumption tax would accomplish just that and create a complete fair tax system, Mr. Botelho said.
Mr. Botelho faulted the current Congress for “kicking the can” on taking permanent and decisive action on the Bush tax cuts, and said he would advocate extending them for anyone earning less than $500,000 to boost revenue without adversely impacting businesses looking to re-invest their profits.
The third piece of his economic plan is addressing government regulation by “working with industry instead of against it,” meaning that the government would work with particular industries to craft reasonable, balanced regulations. He cited as an example the stringent commercial fishing regulations that have adversely impacted the industry in the Ninth District.
Addressing taxation and regulation would be key elements of stimulating job growth in the district, Mr. Botelho said. He would not resort to tax incentives or government-subsidized loans, especially those that favored specific industries. He referred to the debacles with Solyndra and, more locally, Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios as examples of failed attempts by the government to boost growth in specific business sectors.
“Businesses need to be able to function on their own,” he said, and the best support they could receive is an educated, well-trained workforce. To facilitate that, Mr. Botelho advocated for partnerships between the business and higher education sectors to create “skills-based training” for the workforce.
Mr. Botelho envisioned the business sector as a partner in a new model of health care for the US, based on Canada’s two-payer system. The government would provide a basic insurance plan to American citizens with well-defined basic coverage benefits, including basic wellness visits, certain routine screenings, and birth control.
“If you need more than that,” he said, “you can buy across state lines, your employer can provide it — you have an open market for that third-party insurer.”
He added that basic coverage would be defined with input from the medical community rather than bureaucrats. He did not state whether this would be accomplished by amending or repealing the Affordable Care Act, which he faulted for its taxpayer penalty provision, which he said does not accomplish the ACA’s overall goal and provide an uninsured citizen with health insurance.
For more information about the candidate, visit his official campaign website at www.danielbotelhoforcongress.com.
Other Issues At A Glance
Mr. Botelho said foreign aid budgets should be scrutinized and, if it is determined the money is not being used for its prescribed purpose, pulled.
A child of immigrants from the Azores, Mr. Botelho called for comprehensive immigration reform to streamline the process for those seeking to enter the country legally; preferred an “invisible fence” of cameras and drones to secure the border with Mexico over a physical fence.
The Middle East
The candidate believed the US should not get involved with other nation’s internal conflicts; he called for a short-term troop increase for the specific purpose of quickly and safely conducting “a complete withdrawal” of all Americans, including military forces and US ambassadors.
Mr. Botelho warned that the current generation of workers might have to make due with reduced Social Security benefits unless it is returned to its original purpose and did away with any programs that benefit residents who have not paid into the system.
Women’s Reproductive Rights
Pro-choice, but would keep legal abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s health is at risk; otherwise “I would not try to dictate a woman’s reproductive rights by any means”; he added that “the GOP does not wage war against women.”