Steve Obsitnik, Republican challenger for the 4th congressional district seat now held by Jim Himes made that request of Westport Sunrise Rotary members on October 19.
He described himself as a “right of center Republican in the tradition of Lowell Weicker, John McKinney and Chris Shays.” He went on, criticizing Congressman Himes who voted with his party 94% of the time while the former congressman supported his party only 64% of the time when he represented this left of center district.
He is a Westport resident and CEO of Quintel, a technology company that produces cell towers whose antennas “reduce the number of sites needed to carry existing traffic by 50%.”
Obsitnik grew up in Stamford, graduated from the United States Naval Academy, then served aboard a nuclear submarine. Following his service he earned an MBA from the Wharton School – where he also met his wife, Westporter Susan Tager.
His theme was “we deserve better than what we had for the past two years,” and highlighted three strengths he offers district residents: “courageous leadership, the skills to create jobs and the skills to tackle our fiscal mess.”
He called the government “fiscally constrained,” while offering lukewarm support for Simpson-Bowles as the start of a way to put it on a stronger footing. One flaw he noted is that it will create only one million jobs, not the 2.5 million he believes necessary.
He stated that the Simpson-Bowles Medicare cuts were insufficient. During a follow on Q&A session he identified some $50 billion to $100 billion of fraud that he said can be eliminated by issuing charge cards to Medicare clients. This solution seems to place the blame on individual clients rather than on providers gaming the system, the more frequent explanation.
Obsitnik called the Stimulus program “ineffective,” something this writer takes issue with, given the inconveniences I suffered for the better part of two years while $70 million of federal funding was used to rehabilitate and modernize the Merritt Parkway.
As an entrepreneur, he believes job creation is a significant problem. He is a proponent of the Small Business Administration. Unfortunately, he said, it has become “the Large Business Administration, that a company with 500 employees has an easier time securing finding than one with a dozen or two.” Whether this reflects personal experience arising out of his company's successful pursuit of government funding was not part of his presentation.
He said he will work to encourage entrepreneurship by seeking to reform corporate and individual tax codes, reduce regulation and provide greater access to government funding. He also added a personal note, that he will seek to reduce the cost of doing business in Connecticut.
He will seek to broaden the tax base by lowering rates, a change he said would keep more businesses in the U.S. He also favors eliminating tax code carve outs including cutting the mortgage deduction on second homes. Changes such as these are needed “to make the math work.”
On the other side of the ledger, and during a later Q&A period – one that elicited more focused answers to issues of greatest interest of club members – Obsitnik said he is not averse to a plan with a four to one ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases.
About signing Grover Norquist’s pledge to never raise any tax at any time, he said he has made only two pledges, to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to love, honor and cherish his wife,” and he wasn’t about to change that.
On education, he said his “single best decision was picking my parents.” He did not address what to do for those whose choices were not so advantageous. He added that it is important for every student to read at grade level by the third grade, but did not talk to the how and the cost.
His talk included numerous rhetorical flourishes, from slamming Congressman Himes for “supporting” the military mission in Afghanistan, as he asked “what is the mission?” to “who do you want negotiating for you?” and “what example do you want to set?”
He closed, saying “I know we can do better.”
Obsitnik is an articulate and accomplished entrepreneur and a job creator making his first run for public office. He offered the group a necessarily brief overview of his talking points.
If you're interested in learning more about Obsitnik's candidacy you can visit: http://www.obsitnik.com/.