Democrat seeking to unseat Rep. Peter Welch

MIDDLEBURY — Dr. Daniel Freilich believes he can become part of the cure for a Congress he said is paralyzed by partisan gridlock and beholden to big money interests.
Freilich, a Brownsville Democrat, U.S. Navy captain and medical doctor, is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., this fall.
As a member of the military and as a physician, Freilich believes he can lend some valuable insights into the oft-debated issues of health care reform and gun control. And he’s also got some strong opinions on renewable energy, economic equality and getting corporate money out of politics.
“In Congress, we need leaders with moral clarity, outside the influence of money, to give us a fighting chance for good decision-making on behalf of all people,” Freilich proclaims on his new website, drdanforcongress.com. “Our vision for America must be one in which all citizens — regardless of income, race, gender, faith or orientation –— are empowered with the same access and influence over the political process. Then, and only then, we will be able to focus on effectively addressing our most pressing priorities.”
This isn’t his first run against a formidable opponent from his own political party. Freilich ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., back in 2010.
Freilich, during a March 8 interview with the Independent, shared some of the policy priorities he will hammer home during what many would call a quixotic campaign against a very popular and well-financed Welch. Freilich hopes to topple the six-term incumbent in the Democratic Primary, and do it without accepting any special interest or corporate money. So he plans to make it a good, old-fashioned, shoe-leather-and-chicken-suppers odyssey, with a lot of hand shaking and visits with local and statewide media.
He believes Vermonters will find his campaign strategy and views — which are unabashedly left-of-center — refreshing, particularly among the many devotees of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“The long-term thinking is that one will gain the confidence of the electorate, who will find this is the kind of representation they’ve wanted forever,” Freilich said. “I think we’ll have enough money by the time we get to the election to compete. I’m positive the numbers will be competitive, actually.
“Whether we can win, we’ll find out.”
Freilich also believes he can benefit from a “backlash” incumbents are facing during the era of President Donald Trump, who has become an increasingly polarizing political figure.
“I’m positive that as we get out there, we’re going to be very competitive,” Freilich said.
He repeats the mantra of “honorable service,” which he says can’t be accomplished when elected officials receive big contributions from entities that are expecting support for their commercial and political interests.
“The underlying reasons of why we’re unable to constructively and effectively address the key issues of our country, to a large extent, are due to the conflicts of interest from the way our representatives take money from special interests,” Freilich said.
He vowed to “fight endlessly” for campaign finance reform, and said accepting special interest money begets “tainted public service.”
Freilich is also campaigning on a platform of “economic equality.” To level the economic playing field, he is proposing — among other things — to increase income, payroll, capital gains, estate and corporate taxes on what he calls the “ultra-rich and tax-evading corporations.” He said his tax plan would raise $681.6 billion in additional annual revenue from those sources.
“I feel that throughout the 20th century, we had a reasonable distribution of our wealth that created the American middle class, because of fair individual and corporate taxes,” Freilich said. “I think they have been chipped away year by year, decade by decade. And it is shocking to me how the Democratic Party has allowed this to happen, in spite of its being the ‘peoples’ party.’”
Freilich is a staff physician at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, with occasional Navy Reserves medical service at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. So he deals daily with the medical system, and particularly federal health care programs serving veterans.
The country is providing good health care services to its veterans, according to Freilich, who believes all Americans should be afforded quality, accordable medical coverage. And that would be best accomplished through a single-payer universal health care system, he believes.
“I think (single payer) is the only way to do this that is economically affordable, that is high quality and that is morally optimal,” Freilich said.
The lack of a level health care playing field for citizens “is a blemish on American society,” according to Freilich.
A single-payer system, Freilich believes, would substantially reduce health care administration costs and make services more accessible and affordable.
“No patient should ever have to forego a health-saving treatment because they are at the whims of an insurance company,” Freilich states on his website. “Yes, payroll taxes will go up but health insurance premiums paid by employers and employees will go away. Overall, the cost of health care will decrease for employers and employees dramatically. For those who pay their own health insurance, this is automatic money back in your pocket.”
If elected, Freilich vowed to back environmental legislation designed to address climate change. And he believes the economy could benefit from “greener” environmental policies.
“A lot of people say, ‘No crisis should be wasted,’” Freilich said. “It’s an opportunity for a massive investment in a green environment, which means massive investment in renewables and mass transit — kind of like what every other modern democracy, other than us, has figured out.”
He applauded Vermont’s success in creating thousands of new jobs in the solar energy industry, and believes the country should follow the Green Mountain State’s lead.
“The only reason, in my opinion, one would not want to do such massive long-term investment is if you have a conflict of interest — for example, if you take money from fossil fuel companies that have a specific incentive in different programming,” Freilich said. “Among other things, our incumbent does that.”
Recent school shootings have left Americans reeling, and the issue of gun control has again been in the headlines.
As a military officer, Freilich has shot the M16 assault rifle. He’s proud of his marksmanship ribbon. He wants people to be able to own weapons for hunting and self-protection. But he said the country should adopt some new “common sense” rules to ensure prospective gun owners are properly vetted and that assault rifles are confined to the military.
“People need to step up to the plate and say not only ‘what do I want,’ but ‘what’s good for all of us?’” Freilich said. “What is my right to bear arms, but what also is good for the rest of the country?’”
Freilich has a 12-point gun control plan that includes an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, a waiting period, a concealed weapons ban, and setting 21 as the minimum age to buy a firearm.
“This is my starting position to sit at a table and try to negotiate,” he said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

Share this story:

More News
US Probation Office Uncategorized

US Probation Office Request for Proposals

US Probation Office 2×1.5 062024 RFP

Middlebury American Legion Uncategorized

Middlebury American Legion Annual Meeting

Middlebury American Legion 062024 1×1.5 Annual Meeting

Sports Uncategorized

MAV girls’ lax nets two triumphs

The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative girls’ lacrosse team moved over .500 with a pair o … (read more)

Share this story: