This week, the Summit Daily profiles the second congressional candidate for Congressional District 2 in the 2018 general election, Peter Yu, the Republican candidate running against the Democratic candidate, Joe Neguse, who was profiled last week.
Yu, 46, is the son of Chinese immigrants who arrived in the U.S. in 1969. Yu was born in Denver, where his family ran a small kitchen before moving on to running their own restaurant in Loveland for nearly 20 years. Yu, his parents and six siblings ran the small family business, doing everything from bussing, cleaning, cooking and running day-to-day finances.
Yu received a scholarship to play football at Colorado State and then transferred to Fort Lewis College where he received his Bachelor’s degree in business. Yu has been working ever since — doing jobs ranging from cleaning outhouses at Boyd Lake State Park to managing marketing and tourism in the Western region for Wyndham Worldwide.
Yu says his campaign lies in the value of hard work and letting people forge their own path forward while promoting conservative values of smaller government and encouraging private innovation.
Summit Daily News: Thank you for speaking to us, Peter. One of the main concerns in Summit County and other mountain communities is access and cost of health care. What do you propose to bring our premiums down and increasing provider coverage?
Yu: Health care has been the no. 1 issue in Colorado since 2011, since the Affordable Care Act took effect. The problem we have in this part of the state is a lack of health and insurance providers. We need to remove all ACA mandates and invite multiple companies to provide care in the mountains. I also believe every health plan should have a Health Savings plan, so people can pay for small medical issues from a savings account. I also want more transparency on cost of care so consumers can make informed decisions. I also believe we should allow local businesses and employers to band together and create medical co-ops, where companies can make their own plans with doctors and insurance providers. But if we don’t have total reform and control, we will never get the cost of health care down.
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Summit Daily News: What is your view on proposed Medicare-for-All plans?
Yu: I’m against a Medicare-for-All plan. I want constituents to go ask legislators pushing a Medicare-for-All plan to tell you how they’re going to pay for it without raising taxes by 30 percent or more, like they do in the UK and Canada. The cost for a Medicare-for-All plan would be $32 trillion over 10 years, at least. It would also have to be a rationed health care plan where bureaucrat tells people what treatment they can and can’t receive. I believe in maintaining high quality healthcare, but we do need to reduce costs. One way to reduce costs is to ease medical malpractice regulations, as doctors I’ve spoken to say that 5 to 10 percent of their budget goes to malpractice insurance, and that cost gets passed on to patients. To cover themselves and avoid lawsuits, doctors prescribe multiple tests and that also drives costs up for everyone. I also think that people should be able to choose what coverage they want in a medical plan and not to have to pay for things they don’t need.
Summit Daily News: Summit County’s economy runs on the environment around here. What is your environmental platform, and how do you intend to address the impact climate change will have on the economy here?
Yu: I’m a big believer of taking care of our state. I was born and raised in Colorado and I love the state so much that I’ve given up opportunities elsewhere to stay here. It’s where I want to be for the rest of my life. Skiing, hiking, fishing and the outdoors is what Colorado, especially Summit, is known for. I’m a big supporter of bringing in the Bureau of Land Management to come in and manage the forests here, and I support the Restore our Parks Act that seeks to keep places like this pristine. While I’m not a fan of just throwing public money on something to solve a problem, I am in favor of a safety net to take care of economies that might see down seasons.
As far as climate change, it’s not a black or white issue and I don’t believe government can solve the problem. I worked in the solar energy industry, and I saw how affordability of renewables like solar is a big barrier to shifting from fossil fuels, and until we get the technology to the point where it’s affordable to the average resident, we need to shift to cleaner fuels in the interim. Switching to natural gas as a main source of energy has done more to help the environment than wind and solar combined. It is abundant and affordable, and we should use it until renewable tech becomes affordable to average consumers.
Summit Daily News: What immigration policy do you want to enact?
Yu: It is no secret that the USA needs immigration reform. And regardless of whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we all care about people in other countries. My parents came to this country in 1969, but it took a long time to immigrate because we came here legally. I want to make sure that everyone in this country has the opportunities I had growing up, but we are still a nation of laws. We need to secure our border. It’s become a political football, which is a sad thing. I believe, and Democrats like Clinton and Obama believed, that people who hire people here illegally are a threat to our country. But because it’s become political instead of an issue of immigration and security, politicians are afraid to do anything. People who are working here illegally are also depressing wages for the bottom percentage of tax filers. They are taking jobs away from law-abiding American citizens and it’s unfair competition. I also believe identity politics have gotten in the way of progress on this issue. People say that I grew up in poverty and a minority, so I should be a Democrat. They think Republicans don’t care about minorities or the poor. When people mention how minorities like me are disadvantaged by racial inequality, they are not helping me — they are crippling me. You’re making excuses for why we’re not successful. I don’t focus on identity politics, but on the things that really affect everyday Americans, like the debt.
Summit Daily News: As a Republican, you’re a bit of a political minority in this district. What message as a conservative do you think will resonate with voters in this district, regardless of party affiliation?
Yu: I want to challenge the voters to ask candidates, “How are you going to actually do the things you promise or fund the programs you’re proposing?” Most can’t, but I’ll tell you exactly what my plans are. I want voters to make an educated decision, and not to vote for someone just because they have a D or R next to their name. I believe that it doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican; we all want the same things. We want everyone to get health care, get a good job, get a good living, buy a house, put food on our table… we all want to do that. We just have different philosophies of how to do that. One party believes government can do that for us, one party doesn’t. But the bottom line is that our national debt is $21.3 trillion and I blame both parties for it. That is unconscionable. We have a moral obligation to take care of our future generation. It is an absolute cruel act to mortgage our future and put all this debt on our children and our children’s children. I know how lucky I am in this country, and I want our future generation to have the same opportunities. But with the ballooning deficit, the CBO said that the debt might reach $100 to 130 trillion in 30 years. In 30 years we’re going to have to pay more in interest on the debt than our entire debt is now. This country will have 400 million people by 2050 and 500 million by the end of the century. Our demands are going to get bigger and bigger. These reckless Medicare-for-All plans and free education plans are going to magnify the debt and we’re going to come back to a situation where people will demand free markets again. Instead of getting to that point, I believe in letting people keep their money and decide how to spend it.
Summit Daily News: What is one thing you really want voters to know about you, as a person and as a candidate?
Yu: I want people to know that I hold true to my beliefs. I have worked full-time since I was 10 years old, having 4 jobs at one point. I know the value of hard work. I haven’t asked for a single donation that hasn’t come from a private donor. No corporations, no big spenders, only from my constituents. I think it’s sad when campaigns can be bought. But I haven’t been bought. I know I will work for you. I am not running to be Congressman, I’m running to be your servant. Regardless if you’re a Dem or Republican, you’ll get my personal attention. I ask voters, when you have two options, you can vote for the same guy who wins every election without doing anything, or you can vote for the candidate who is already down 9 points for the next election. I have to talk to every single person every single day to help move the needle. I won’t make empty promises, but I will do everything to help you out.