In an exclusive interview with The Rouser, U.S. Senate candidate and former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen discussed his opposition to increased government involvement in healthcare at both the state and federal level. He denounced Republican senators who flip-flopped on Obamacare for their hypocrisy, while identifying his potential allies in the Senate, and explaining the liberty conservative view of government.
From beginning to end, Petersen decried the effects of government interference at the national level and promised to oppose both Obamacare and sub-par big government replacement efforts. He suggested that he was uniquely well-suited to withstand pressure from the president or party leadership to accept inadequate legislation, as he owed them nothing and they were unlikely to support his candidacy anyway.
Mr. Petersen added that he has held the same principled stance on Obamacare since it was first passed, unlike Senator Murkowski and others who have repeatedly declined to repeal Obamacare since President Trump has been in office, despite voting for its repeal during Obama’s presidency.
He summed up the attitude of Senate Republicans who were afraid to repeal Obamacare by stating that they were likely bowing to populist pressures. The former presidential candidate said that representatives must use their own best judgement in some cases, while adding that it takes great political courage to tell this to your political base.
Petersen did not believe that his general election opponent possessed this quality, referencing some leaked audio of the senator sacrificing her personal judgement of Neil Gorsuch’s fitness for office to the fears of her base.
At the same time, he addressed government interference in healthcare in his own state, as Governor Greitens of Missouri had recently moved to create a state database for prescription medication, bypassing the uncooperative state legislature. On this issue, Petersen stated, “I think that government is often well-meaning, but we should never judge policies by their intentions, but rather on their results, and I just find it funny that people on the Republican side who claim to say that the government shouldn’t be involved in healthcare think that it should be involved in regulating drugs…there’s a bit of hypocrisy there, and so I’m opposed to this on a civil liberties stance, I’m opposed to this from a consistent conservative stance.”
Mr. Petersen said that he was passionate about the issue and wanted to provide a free market solution. He brought up a deeply personal example of the free market’s ability to address these difficulties without government interference, stating that his mother was cheated by a man named Robert Courtney who made extra money by diluting chemotherapy drugs when Austin was fourteen-years-old.
“What’s interesting is that it wasn’t the government that discovered that Robert Courtney was a bad actor. It was the market because what happened is that the pharmacy company, like any other company, had a profit motive, discovered that he was selling more drugs than he was buying, so he was committing a crime…so the market discovered this crime and reported him to the authorities, and now he’s received a thirty year prison sentence…So the free market is what determines that a rogue pharmacist who is dispensing legal drugs was committing a crime, the government didn’t discover it, the market did, so that just goes to show that more laws are not the answer.”
Mr. Petersen then proceeded to address the roots of government interference into healthcare, mentioning the widespread abuse of the interstate commerce clause and the ludicrous nature of the individual mandate, saying, “that’s actually how Obamacare was able to be legally passed because the idea is that by not buying health insurance you’re affecting interstate commerce, so that’s like walking into a grocery store, not buying a pack of gum, and them saying that will be $1.50…I’d like to restore a more constitutional republic, as our founders envisioned.”
Finally, Mr. Petersen argued that the voters of Missouri had an important choice to make between himself and his opponent Claire McCaskill: a choice between an advocate for liberty, or more big government Republicanism.
“You’d be electing someone who is honest about their intentions, about who they are. You know I’m fully transparent about where I’m coming from and what my beliefs are. You’re also electing someone who has got some guts, some backbone, because having the chutzpah to tell people to their face when you disagree with them on a program is more of what’s needed in Washington. If you are a fan of Rand Paul, Mike Lee, or Ted Cruz and you want to see someone who is going to go up there and fight with them on their issues, someone who stands with the constitution for individual liberty, for Americanism as it was originally intended, and if you really want to make America great again, then that’s what I offer. I offer something very different from any of the other candidates that are slated in the primary and obviously radically different from Claire McCaskill. It’s something new, it’s unique and I hope that my fellow Missourians will see the opportunity that is before them and take it because it probably only happens once in a generation.”