2012 Candidate Interview: Daniel Bongino (R-MD)

Saturday morning at 8:00 AM I received a call from 2012 US Senate candidate Daniel Bongino. Bongino is 37 year old Republican from Maryland who’s goal is to take on incumbent Ben Cardin in the general election. Bongino has an extensive background in law enforcement, serving four years in the New York City police department and twelve years in the Secret Service, serving under President’s Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Bongino left the Secret Service in early May. He has a Master’s degrees in Psychology and an MBA from Penn State University. Bongino and his wife have founded and run a number of successful small businesses. He was genuine, knowledgeable, and open to any question I was ready to throw his way. When asked about his platform, Bongino said, “I’m not just trying to tote the conservative line, [this is my platform] because these policies work.” I agree. What follows is the transcript of my interview with Bongino and some additional comments.

Matthew Newman: What grade would you give our incumbent Senator?
Daniel Bongino: An unequivocal F. Capital F. Failure in every regard – tax issues, education issues, second amendment issues, economic issues, and social issues. An F across the board. But, I give him an A for politics. In 44 years, he’s become quite the expert.

MN: As a first time candidate, how difficult do you feel it will be to compete in the primary or general election against more seasoned, political veterans?
DB: It is going to be difficult, no doubt about it. Maryland is not an enormous state, but it is difficult to traverse…our message is strong. I feel my message in the primary is the strongest. My ideas on education, health care, and the economy are strong and resonating. In 12 years of research on macroeconomic policy. You know what I found? You spend your money better than other people do. Not surprising.

MN: What characteristics you look for in a potential judicial nominee?
DB: Strict constitutionalist. We need people who read the Constitution for what it says. In my years in law enforcement, I never carried a gun when off-duty. It was a personal choice. I never felt the need to. The fact that this choice is not available to other people, although it clearly stated as such in the Second Amendment, I find offensive. The Constitution is the Constitution, not as its interpreted by a Supreme Court nominee.

MN: What is your opinion of Paul Ryan’s recent budget proposal?
DB: I like Paul Ryan a lot, met him a few times. The basic principles are correct. What he’s trying to do is connect the supplier to the consumer. The problem with costs in entitlements is that there is no connection between supplier and consumer. When you have a third party payer (the government) the user has no reason to monitor cost. On the other side, you have a provider who has no motivation to provide excellent service. They get paid either way. This fundamentally distorts the system.

I don’t agree with every single component, but I like the principles in Ryan’s plan. The way to reform entitlements is to connect the two [supplier and consumer]. Ryan wants to offer the Federal Employee Health Benefits – an excellent program. FEHB is better than Medicare. Medicare gives you insurance, but not health care. If your insurance is not accepted, which is where the program is going, it’s not really health care and our Seniors deserve better.

If a board, such as the proposed IPAB, decides that a procedure is not covered by Medicare, than that’s it your choice was made for you…We need to give people choices and make providers accountable.

At least we’re doing something. I’m not a hard liner on this, I’m open to new ideas. But this is better than the Democrat’s plan which is to do nothing.

[Bongino said that he’s had advisers tell him to not speak about Medicare to Seniors. He found that preposterous and always does. The result? He said that he generally has had positive responses with many seniors saying that they had not heard it framed that way, and appreciated it.]

MN: What would be the first piece of legislation you would consider proposing, if elected?
DB: He [Cardin] voted down the DC Charter