LUZERNE COUNTY, PA — As a councilman for Luzerne County, Harry Haas has received his fair share of federal and state mandates which he says politicians often impose on county governments …
LUZERNE COUNTY, PA — As a councilman for Luzerne County, Harry Haas has received his fair share of federal and state mandates which he says politicians often impose on county governments without any accompanying funding. Changing that system is one of the main reasons why Haas has decided to run for a chance to face Rep. Matt Cartwright in this year’s general election.
“I’m running to restore federalism,” he said, “So that federal, state and local governments are working together, not at odds with each other.”
Serving as councilman since 2011, Haas lists cutting the county’s budget by $280 million as his greatest achievement. The Luzerne County Council goes through the budget, line-by-line, with a fine-tooth comb, and makes every department justify each expenditure. He refers to the process as “closing the gaps,” and said he could replicate the same process in Washington.
Haas is sharply critical of the “horrible management” of money in the capital, specifically of Congress enacting legislation known as “continuing resolutions,” which allow federal agencies and programs to continue operating into a new fiscal year to give Congress more time to draft appropriation legislation. Haas said his desire to rein in congressional spending may not be “politically popular,” but calls it necessary, nonetheless.
At a local level, Haas is focusing on three main issues: opposing a stormwater runoff fee known as the rainwater tax, supporting property rights of residents and improving infrastructure. On region-specific topics, such as fracking and rural broadband, Haas tends to favor strategies that minimize government involvement. For broadband, Haas wants to see private enterprise present solutions, comparing it to when private companies first delivered cable and electricity to rural areas. On fracking, Haas said it’s important to be cognizant of the potential environmental impacts, but that it ultimately comes down to the rights of citizens to do what they want with their private property.
“I’m tired of people in this area getting taken advantage of,” he said in reference to the moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. People should be allowed to do what they want with their property, he said, “Just like everybody else.”
Haas, in general, disfavors “liberal regulation,” and instead advocates for what he calls “pro-growth policies.” He said he signs onto President Trump’s executive order to cut two federal regulations for every new one that gets introduced.
“Let’s allow Americans to do what they do best: work hard and reinvest,” he said.
The councilman’s anti-big government attitude carries into his philosophy on healthcare as well. Haas is calling for the dismantling of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) and replacing it with something else. He also advocates for tort reform—which would set limits on how much money a physician must pay in punitive damages in a malpractice case—as well as allowing the sale of medication over state and federal lines.
“If the same product is available for much cheaper in Canada, but we’re not allowed to buy it, that smells like lobbying to me,” he said.
The pro-Trump, anti-regulation platform is a common one among the six Republicans in this primary. What Haas said sets him apart from the others is his experience serving on the Luzerne County Council and lifelong connection to the area.
“Nobody else has the experience,” he said. “A few candidates have just come out of the blue.”
Haas is facing Republicans Teddy Daniels, Jim Bognet, Mike Marsicano, Mikel Cammisa and Earl Granville in the Republican primary on June 2.