6th District: Kaple Sees Us Getting Healthy
Georgia Politics6th Congressional District

6th District: Kaple Sees Us Getting Healthy

TV newsman Bobby Kaple has no doubts that health care will carry Democrats to victory.

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

Bobby Kaple
Bobby Kaple

This is one of four profiles of Democrats running in the May 22 primary to win a chance to challenge Rep. Karen Handel for her 6th District congressional seat in November. See links to a campaign overview and the other three profiles below.

Bobby Kaple said health care is “a big area of disagreement with me and Representative (Karen) Handel,” stemming from his experience with his twin children.

Like the other Democrats in the 6th District race, he wants Congress to stop undermining the Affordable Care Act and instead commit to stabilizing the health care market, where the chaos caused by the repeated attempts to repeal the law have helped drive up premiums.

The law should ensure coverage for pre-existing conditions without lifetime caps, and Medicare should be freed to negotiate drug prices. A 15 percent cut in Medicare drug costs could save $600 billion over 10 years, money that could help keep insurance costs down.

Flipping the 6th?

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“The first thing that has to happen is that Congress has to want to stabilize the marketplace and not want the market to fail,” Kaple said.

The Alpharetta resident draws inspiration from the Republican failure to repeal the ACA, aside from removing the individual mandate as part of the tax overhaul. He said he and his wife would watch C-SPAN late into the night every time a vote came up to kill the law, which survived because that’s what the American people wanted.

“When you’re calling for your own life or you’re calling for your twins’ lives and you know that your lawmaker doesn’t hear you, you can no longer sit in a newsroom anymore and simply report on the story, in our case. I just felt like we’re better than this as a country,” Kaple said in explaining how the health care fight led to his campaign, which has received endorsements from the likes of Andrew Young, Roy Barnes and Max Cleland.

“It impacts everybody, and it’s life-changing stuff,” he said. “It is the issue that is moving voters. … We’re seeing it across the country.”

For that reason, Kaple rejects the possibility that Democrats won’t win the 6th District and take control of the House.

“We’re going to have an opportunity to get a lot of work done for the American people. This is stuff that actually has bipartisan support from the American people,” he said.

Still, Kaple was less willing than his opponents to dive deep into specific policies, though he laid out broad visions.

For example, Steven Knight Griffin and Kevin Abel said it’s time for the Democrats to replace Nancy Pelosi as their leader in the House. Kaple said he would support the leadership candidate who is best for the district. Pressed on what that means or who that might be, he repeated, “Someone who best represents us here in the 6th District.”

He was more direct on the need for more assertive, consistent U.S. leadership in world diplomacy. He said no one knows what U.S. foreign policy is under President Donald Trump, who has left a global power vacuum.

“It’s important that we have people who know what they’re talking about and know what they’re doing running the foreign policy and not doing this based on the chants at a campaign rally, which is literally where we are today,” Kaple said.

He said the United States has no greater friend in the Middle East than Israel and should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish state. “It should be crystal-clear that is the case. This is too important to mess around with.”

Given that it has been American law for more than 20 years, Kaple said the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem shouldn’t be controversial, but the way Trump is doing it has made it so.

Although anti-Semitism is an ancient problem, he said the U.S. government can fight it through condemnation and clear support for Israel. “Jewish communities here and around the world deserve respect and safety.”

He called the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement a big problem. “I do not support it. I think it is not helpful to have anti-Semitism spread through the world like that, and I just think anything we can do to shut that down is positive.”

Kaple said Congress could easily take four positive steps on gun control that have broad public support: tightening background checks; closing the gun show loophole on those checks; banning bump stocks; and banning gun sales to people on the terrorist watch list.

“Those are things we should be doing immediately,” he said. “Unfortunately, Representative Handel has no interest in taking that up.”

Kaple said nothing should be off the table when it comes to school safety. “We need to figure out how to keep our children safe. … This should be an issue both parties care about. It’s certainly something I care about.”

He said college finances must be addressed so that people who qualify for college can attend without a crushing debt burden. But he said the problem needs to be studied, with the possibility of a multiprong solution, and he advocated better alignment of worker skills and jobs through technical schools.

He would not commit on the question of free public college education, but he did talk about the importance of millennials to his campaign.

“We’ve been really honored to have the support of so many young people from high school and college,” he said. Many members of his army of young people attended a candidate forum held in April by the Jewish Democratic Women’s Salon.

He said he’s against a border wall and thinks that’s an issue on which lawmakers could act if they would listen “to people who know what they’re talking about,” something he said Trump doesn’t do very often.

He made clear that while Handel is his campaign target, she “is a member of the Trump army.”

“I don’t think we can ignore the elephant in the room that is President Trump,” he said, accusing Trump and Handel of tapping into the worst vein of American politics through race-baiting and fearmongering.

“People are ready for some stability and some decency again,” Kaple said, adding that he doesn’t let his toddler twins watch TV news for fear they’ll repeat at preschool the things Trump says.

But he also criticized Handel for failing to listen to people who disagree with her. “She has been inaccessible by the people who elected her. It seems as though she’s forgotten that she represents all of us, whether we voted for her or not.”

He cited Handel’s effort to win re-election through her support for the 2017 tax law, which is projected to add $1.5 trillion to the national debt over a decade. Kaple called it a “giveaway to richest 500 families in the country,” paid for by cutting Social Security and Medicare and “mortgaging our future to China.”

He wants to go through the tax law line by line to sort out what should be repealed, and he opposes making changes to Social Security to balance the budget.

“There’s no reason that a group of 400-plus lawmakers can’t come together in one room and figure out how to balance the federal budget of America,” Kaple said. “People are doing it across the world in other countries.”

He said the key to beating Handel and flipping the 6th District is to be a fighter.

He told of his first efforts to get into radio broadcasting as a 17-year-old in high school. He recorded himself doing play-by-play announcing and took the tape to the local station, only to be told he had to line up sponsors if he wanted a show. He pounded the pavement until he had the backing, and that launched him on a career that led him to Atlanta and CBS 46.

The same traits won over Young, Kaple said. “He discovered the same thing that that general manager discovered all those years ago, which is that I’m a fighter, and I’m not only a Democrat who can beat Karen in the fall, but one that you can be proud to vote for.”

He said his Presbyterian faith helps make him such a candidate. “For me, it’s about kindness. It’s about compassion. It’s about helping other people and doing what you can to leave this Earth a better place than when you found it.”

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