Howard Swint is a commercial property broker and part-time
newspaper op ed columnist from Charleston.
This is Swint’s third try at representing the second congressional district. He
lost the Democratic primary in 1996 and 2004.
Swint said his main motivation for running is to make a
“It’s all about ethics, campaign, finance and lobbying
reform, education reform, tax reform, I’ve been extremely outspoken on all of
those issues through my op-ed columns and here was the perfect platform to be
able to advance these issues in the 2012 election cycle,” Swint said.
Campaign finance reform is the centerpiece of Swint’s
campaign. To that end, he’s not accepting any contributions from political
action committees, special interest groups or corporations. Swint said the time
has come for broad, wholesale tax reform.
“The tax code is nothing but an encyclopedia of decades old
special interest hooks into the political process where we have corporations
that have enjoyed loopholes, tax deductions and exemptions over all these
years,” Swint said.
Swint supports many of the recommendations to reform the tax
code made by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission, which put together a
plan for deficit reduction that increases taxes and cuts spending.
“But I’ll take it one step further, I think that the same
principles that Simpson-Bowles applied to the corporate tax code side of the
equation we should apply to the personal income tax side of the equation,”
Swint said. “I think that we could eliminate the vast majority of deductions
and exemptions and loopholes that really quite frankly favor the wealthy in
Swint believes it’s possible to eliminate some very popular
deductions for things like home loan interest or child tax credits without
adversely affecting the middle class if the tax rates are adjusted.
He said the Federal budget should be balanced through broad
tax reform, winding down military operations overseas and cutting waste in
defense spending rather than making cuts to social programs like Medicare and
And he supports a balanced budget amendment to the US
Many political analysts say the jobless rate, which is just
under eight percent, is a major concern to voters this year. Swint favors
passage of a comprehensive jobs bill that targets areas where need is greatest.
“And if you brought the educational system in with the
workforce development needs of this country and applied that to the crumbling
infrastructure that’s occurring in this country you could marry up those and
have a comprehensive jobs act that I believe would kick-start the economy,” he
said. “And you could still pay for that by having the proper amount of revenue
coming in as a result of tax reform.”
A theme that has run through political advertising in both
Democrat and Republican races across West Virginia
is the so-called war on coal and the belief that the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency is overreaching its authority in enforcing regulations,
resulting in layoffs in coal mining sector.
Swint does not agree with this assessment.
“I think when you look at the market forces for natural gas
and the huge supplies that are coming online coupled with the economics of the
coal in the powder basin in Wyoming,
that’s what driving the decline of the coal industry in West
Virginia,” he said. “It’s not the EPA.”
Swint argues that EPA regulations have helped the coal
“The EPA, particularly in the Kanawha
Valley, helped insure jobs and a
future for coal in that part of the state because those scrubbers now are
compliant with the Clean Air Act,” Swint said. “And they will allow that plant
to continue to burn coal as a result so I would suggest that the EPA has
actually benefited the coal industry in West Virginia.”
Swint believes both the natural gas and coal industries have
a promising future but regulation is important to assure mining and drilling
are done with the least amount of impact on the environment as possible.
Swint favors making companies that operate hydraulic
fracturing wells list what chemicals they’re using in the process.
On health care, Swint believes Medicare should have been
expanded to include everyone; however he believes the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, will benefit
Swint also opposes a plan proposed by Republicans that would
change Medicare for anyone under age 55.
“Well this goes back to the Ryan plan that Shelley Moore
Capito voted for,” Swint said. “I don’t believe after two unfunded wars, two
unfunded massive tax cuts, the bailout of the Wall Street banks and the under
funding Medicare Prescription Part D that you balance the budget on the backs
of those who are the least positioned to pay for it.”
“I’m opposed to the voucherization of Medicare,” he said.
Swint said the proposal to alter Medicare is well intended
but he doesn’t believe it’s going to be as good as Obamacare at providing
wellness, screenings and preventive maintenance.
Click on the link to hear the full interview with Howard