Leckman centers campaign on health and family



    Editor’s Note: This is the second of four stories on candidates for the U.S. Senate.

    Democrat candidate Dr. Scott Leckman has centered his bid for the U.S. Senate around health and family issues.

    The Salt Lake general surgeon decided to run against Republican Sen. Bob Bennett after he disagreed with the senator’s stance on tobacco legislation.

    Leckman said the legislation would have used tobacco money to buy health insurance for poor children.

    “It told me that he (Bennett) was satisfied living in a country where millions of children don’t have access to health care. As a physician and as a citizen on this country, it was not okay with me,” he said.

    Leckman’s plan for tobacco is to limit advertising and marketing to minors through the Food and Drug Administration. He would also push to penalize the tobacco industry if use among minors does not decrease.

    “Tobacco companies know that if they hook our kids, they have clients for life,” he said.

    The plan also calls for an increased cigarette tax that would be devoted to tobacco control efforts and treatment programs.

    Leckman’s focus on children in tobacco has also carried over into the rest of his campaign.

    He said trickle-down economics from the Reagan era has made it harder for families to survive on one income.

    “Two incomes per family can do what one income used to do. Parents are living in an economic crunch, as well as a time crunch,” he said. The results of this crunch are affecting children.

    Leckman said his first priority would be to push for increased tax cuts for parents with young children.

    “A lot of mothers of young children would just as soon not work if they didn’t have to. So if we can enhance the income of those families, we can do a lot for these families,” said Leckman, who supports increasing the child tax credit from $500 to $1,500.

    Leckman also supports increasing family incomes through earned income tax credit.

    “I’m a big proponent of giving a hand-up not a hand-out,” said Leckman who favors giving small loans to low income families starting businesses.

    Childhood intervention is also key to Leckman’s plan to help the family. He said lack of childhood intervention is already showing its effects.

    “We’re talking about building more jails, prosecuting juveniles as adults and capital punishment for kids,” he said.

    He said he would support more programs like the Salt Lake City’s Success by Six, a program which advocates prenatal care and parenting instruction.

    As far as issues already in the Senate, Leckman is in support of a slow transition to a different social security system.

    “I think we’re going to have to come up with some new solution, and that’s going to take some money. That’s why I’m in favor of saving this in quotes surplus,” he said.

    Leckman and Bennett are on opposite sides of the campaign finance debate. Leckman said money plays too much of a role in the outcome of election. He said spending limits might help solve the problem.

    “Reform goes from incremental to radical changes. To tell the truth, I’d be in favor of any change,” he said.

    Leckman said Congress is in the right direction with the Clinton investigation. He supports a continued inquiry as long as it follows the Constitutional process.

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