AMMON — Aaron Swisher views income inequality as America’s biggest problem, and he said his background gives him some unique insight that could help solve it.
“Essentially, I bring a new economic perspective to problems that we haven’t seen from Democrats or Republicans,” he said.
Swisher, a Boise resident and Democrat whose background is in economics and finance, has been touring Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District to promote his candidacy. He explained his views for and took questions from a little more than a dozen progressive-leaning voters Saturday afternoon at Villa Coffeehouse.
Many of his answers came back to income inequality. By addressing it with policies such as raising the minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich and on carbon-based fuels as well as making it harder for tech companies to use the visa system to hire highly skilled workers for lower wages than Americans, it will become easier to fix other problems such as health care and the budget deficit.
“Once you do that you have the foundation to solve a lot of other problems,” he said.
Swisher said this could even help to address some hot-button social topics, noting that about three-quarters of women who get abortions cite worries about being able to support a child financially as a major reason for their decision.
“There is a lot of ground to be gained by raising wages and we don’t have to have this low-grade civil war between pro-life and pro-choice,” he said.
Swisher grew up in West Virginia and has lived in Idaho since moving to attend Boise State University in 1993. He used to work at Micron and now works at Clarivite Analytics, “providing brand protection and anti-fraud services to corporate clients,” according to his campaign website.
Swisher is the only person to file to run as a Democrat so far, although Peter Rickards of Twin Falls has also said he intends to. James Wardell of Pocatello has filed to run as an independent. The incumbent is U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican who lives in Idaho Falls and has been in office since 1999.
Simpson has spent much of his time in office trying to make his mark on Idaho issues such as public lands protection and supporting Idaho National Laboratory. While his views and votes often align with the majority of congressional Republicans — for example he voted for the tax bill Congress is finalizing now and which Swisher opposes — he has been publicly critical of some of his more right-wing colleagues and of President Trump, and faced a serious primary challenge from the right in 2014 but has won his recent general elections by strong margins.
“Mr. Swisher entering the race won’t change the focus of this campaign,” Simpson campaign spokesman Luke Kilcup said in an email. “Congressman Simpson’s strong record of representing Idaho values speaks for itself, and the campaign will continue to spread that message around Idaho’s 2nd Congressional district.”
Swisher said Saturday that while Simpson may be strong on issues such as support for public lands and funding for wildland firefighting and INL, his stances on bigger economic questions and support for tax cuts that reduce revenue undercut his own views on these topics.
“The economic system he supports concentrates wealth in the hands of just a few people who demand that those lands be privatized,” Swisher said.