Bradenton Herald recommends Vern Buchanan for U.S. House District 16

As a conservative Republican in Congress, Rep. Vern Buchanan sometimes bucks his party's position in favor of bipartisan solutions to the nation's challenges. One such vote came in October 2013.

He joined 86 other Republicans and House Democrats in the passage of a bill re-opening the government after a shutdown in a weeks-long congressional stalemate. That pragmatic vote prevented a debt default by the United States.

The incumbent's competitors in the Nov. 4 election to represent U.S. House District 16 are Democrat Henry Lawrence and write-in candidate Joe Newman. The district includes most of Manatee County and all of Sarasota County.

As a member of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, Buchanan sits in a prime position to advance one of his key policy goals: reform of an overly complicated and lengthy tax code. A fairer, simpler and flatter code that promotes job growth continues to be a work in progress.

With special interests coveting their tax breaks and advantages and fighting any setbacks, Buchanan faces strong headwinds in achieving his goal. Big oil alone protects its tax subsidies, but Buchanan is on point by targeting this unwarranted and excessive expenditure and other special interest honey pots. We encourage a stronger push to achieve reform.

Lawrence and Newman also advocate tax reform, though Buchanan is well positioned on this issue with his Ways and Means post.

Buchanan's positions on other major issues mirror his stands in previous congressional campaigns.

The Longboat Key resident deservedly touts his success in business and job creation as a car dealership owner who previously built a small-time printing outfit into national prominence. Raised in a blue-collar family, he worked his way through college and built his fortune through his own entrepreneurship. Today, he ranks among the wealthiest members of Congress.

As he reiterated during the Bradenton Herald-METV candidate forum last week, he has lived the American dream. But he sees the idea of that dream of self-made success slipping away as opportunities vanish. He views economic growth and job creation as the biggest challenge facing the nation.

As such, he champions pro-growth, free-market policies to stimulate business development and also make American companies more competitive globally.

Buchanan also advocates regulation reform to abolish burdensome rules that restrict job growth. He maintains government does not create jobs but the nation's small businesses are the primary growth mechanism. Government should encourage innovation and entrepreneurship to rebuild the American dream, he believes. In pursuit of that, he has introduced the "Buchanan Jobs Plan" in Congress to boost the economy and hiring.

His pro-business agenda, lengthy experience as an employer and sound platform stand out in this contest.

On the Affordable Care Act, Buchanan decries the high cost as tough on business. Government subsidies don't offset insurance policies that carry "huge deductibles," he stated at the forum. "We'll need significant changes to the health care laws compared to what we have now." We agree that ACA needs to be improved. Henry Lawrence stated it best at the forum, challenging Buchanan to propose solutions. We second that.

Early in his congressional career, Buchanan boasted about his bipartisanship, and he continues to promote that. In this ongoing polarized political environment and partisan rancor, unity on problem-solving remains a formidable goal. Two years ago in our endorsement of Buchanan's re-election bid, we challenged him to continue to make good on his bipartisanship pledge.

During his current term, Buchanan achieved success with bipartisan passage of bills on three issues with major impacts on Congressional District 16. One eased the spike in national flood insurance premiums; another provided unprecedented funding for research into the deadly citrus greening disease; and the third forced changes in veterans' health care in the wake of a national scandal over lengthy waits for medical appointments.

Buchanan's accomplishments and policy positions serve Manatee County well. The Herald Editorial Board recommends Vern Buchanan to represent District 16.

Candidate responses

Candidates who do not receive the Herald Editorial Board's endorsement are invited to submit a response of up to 350 words by 4 p.m. the next weekday after the endorsement appears in print.

Those can be sent to letters@bradenton.com or faxed to 941-745-7047.

View candidate forums

The Herald, in partnership with Manatee Educational Television, videotaped a candidate forum in this race. The forum can be viewed anytime on bradenton.com/video. METV is also regularly airing all the forums, and the station can be viewed on Brighthouse channel 614, Verizon FIOS 31 and Comcast 19. For METV airtimes, visit www.metvweb.com.