Freidlich announces Senate run against Leahy
MIDDLEBURY — As a physician and a military man, Dr. Daniel Freidlich of Wilmington believes he has the right stuff to deliver remedies for health care reform and the war on terror, among other issues simmering in the nation’s capital.
And Freidlich clearly isn’t shying away from a big battle. The Democrat has decided to force a primary with none other than longtime incumbent U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., next fall. Not only that, it’s Freidlich’s first foray into politics.
Though he realizes he has a steep political hill to climb, Freidlich told the Addison Independent that he believes he can tap into what he believes is a growing disenchantment among voters about the gridlock in Congress over health care and budgetary issues, to name a few. He hopes to appeal to the electorate as a populist committed to shaking things up in Washington, D.C.
Freidlich, 45, was born in New York City. He earned a B.A. in Government from Cornell University in 1984 and an M.D. from the State University of New York Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn in 1989. He completed an internship in internal medicine/pediatrics at Albany Medical Center in 1990. He then volunteered for a commission in the U.S. Navy and served as a general medical officer aboard the USS Coronado AGF-11, and as fleet surgeon for the commander of the Third Fleet based out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and then North Island Naval Air Station in California from 1990 to 1992.
He moved with his family to Westford, Vt., in 1992. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Vermont in 1994, then went into private practice in Jeffersonville until 1998. He has also taught internal medicine at Fletcher Allen Health Care/UVM and at Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans.
Freidlich returned to active duty in the Navy in 1998. This past September he switched to reserve status in order to pursue his U.S. Senate campaign.
“I have felt, and I think many people in America feel, that things have become so ridiculously unfair for ‘average’ Americans,” Freidlich said of his motivation for running. “I don’t see most of our representatives down there in Washington advocating on our behalf.”
Freidlich called Leahy a “good, honorable man,” but believes the senator — and Vermonters, in general — should not be satisfied with what he believes is the glacial pace at which some of the tough issues are being addressed.
“The power within the Democratic party has accepted, in my mind, the status quo, and what they are pursuing for what they refer to as ‘reform’ is miniscule,” Freidlich said. “I think the American people should be sick and tired of these incremental changes — and I think most people are.”
Big changes are needed, Freidlich said, particularly in health care — an arena in which he has direct expertise.
Congress continues to struggle on health care reform legislation, and whether to offer a so-called “public option” to extend insurance to the estimated 46 million Americans who currently aren’t covered. Freidlich believes the answer is to extend the nation’s Medicare program to cover all Americans.
Expanding Medicare for all, Freidlich argued, would result in universal coverage and large reductions in administrative costs, drug costs and costs now passed on by patients who can’t pay their medical bills.
“Medicare for all” would also relieve employers from health care expenses, thereby allowing them to become stronger and pay higher wages, according to Freidlich.
He said patients would still be able to choose their physicians.
“We are talking about socialized insurance, not socialized medicine,” Freidlich said.
It would be a big change, but one that could pay big dividends, he said.
“The current system is not working,” Freidlich said, adding “I think many Democrats agree with what I am saying but are not willing to go out on a political limb.”
Freidlich believes many current legislators agree with, but are unwilling to pursue, economic reforms that he subscribes to, including allowing the tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush to expire; increasing the upper tax brackets on high-income earners (up to 50 percent); establishing “progressive” tax rates for capital gains and payroll taxes; and enacting tax cuts for middle-income earners.
“We now have an income tax that doesn’t have much of a curve in it,” Freidlich said. “Deliberative change in the federal tax system has allowed those who have high incomes to get significantly richer, and those who have low or middle incomes to become stagnant.”
As a military man and as a person who spent part of his childhood in Israel, Freidlich has been keenly following the conflicts in the Middle East. He believes the U.S. — with increased help from its allies — should intensify its efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.
“I think in contrast with Iraq, Afghanistan was an absolute war of necessity,” Freidlich said. “All wars are horrible, but the truth of the matter is, we were attacked by Al Queda with support from the Taliban … There is no question in my mind that a withdrawal would be lead to a strengthening of Al Queda and the Taliban and lead to many more terrorist events.”
And if America’s foes are allowed to take power in Afghanistan, Freidlich believes the citizens — and particularly women of that nation — could face incredible persecution and atrocities.
“In World War II, it would have been nice not to fight Nazism also, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, because it is the right thing to do,” Freidlich said.
“You cannot appease this kind of evil; you have to do what you need to do to win.”
More information on Freidlich can be found at www.danielfreidlich.com.
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