OPED: Former GOP colleague blasts Perry's 'cold-hearted' policies '

Steve Nickol
Former state representative
Steve Nickol

For 18 years, I represented parts of York County in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as an elected Republican. For a portion of that time, I served with Scott Perry. We were both members of the Republican Caucus. When Mr. Perry decided to run for Congress in 2012, I donated to his campaign.

Today, I am proud to announce my endorsement of George Scott, Mr. Perry’s opponent, in the race for Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District.

Since leaving office, I have generally remained silent on political matters. I have not publicly endorsed candidates. This race is different. In this race, voters have a clear choice. I live in the newly drawn 10th District. I believe that, with new lines, should come new representation — and I want George Scott to be my congressman.

When I supported Mr. Perry’s run for Congress in 2012, I did so in hopes that he would represent South Central Pennsylvania in the tradition of former representatives Bill Goodling and Todd Platts. I hoped that he would be a bipartisan champion who worked in the best interest of his constituents. Since that time, I have watched in disappointment as Mr. Perry has repeatedly aligned himself with the Freedom Caucus, the most hyper-partisan faction in Congress.

When the U.S. House passed Medicare in 1965, a majority of Democrats and Republicans supported it. In 2014, Mr. Perry voted for a budget resolution that contained a proposal to privatize Medicare. The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare stated that the plan “would end traditional Medicare, make it harder for seniors to choose their own doctors, and increase health care costs for both current and future retirees.” Rep. Platts voted against a similar proposal in 2012.

Renewing the Violence against Women Act is a historically bipartisan measure that was supported by both Rep. Goodling and Rep. Platts during their respective times in office. In 2013, Mr. Perry voted against renewing the Violence against Women Act. On Mother’s Day of 2017, Mr. Perry announced that he was opposed to classifying maternal care as an essential health benefit for insurance purposes, as required under existing law, because he was personally finished having children.

10th Congressional District candidates Republican Scott Perry, left, and Democrat George Scott, take part in a debate held by the Rotary Club of York at the Country Club of York, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. John A. Pavoncello photo

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Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents support requiring health insurance companies to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, as is the case under current law. While many Republicans favored a “repeal and replace” strategy with respect to the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Perry co-sponsored and voted for two bills that would have repealed the ACA entirely and not replaced it with anything. In doing so, Mr. Perry voted to allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, first in 2013 and again in 2015.

Mr. Perry has failed to demonstrate bipartisanship on these critically important issues of public policy, purportedly in the name of “conservatism.” As a former elected Republican, I take great issue with this characterization. These policy positions are not conservative. They are cold-hearted.

Perhaps even more troubling is Mr. Perry’s penchant for conspiracy theories and making statements that defy clearly established facts.

After last year’s tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas, Mr. Perry alleged that ISIS was responsible for the attack even though law enforcement authorities had concluded that the shooter was an Iowa-born man with no ISIS connection. On national television, he erroneously stated that no one was dying in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. During a town hall event in 2017, he incorrectly claimed that trees cause pollution.

Mr. Perry’s actions and words on these issues are not conservative. They are damaging to reasonable public discourse. Mr. Perry spends too much time promoting baseless conspiracy theories and Freedom Caucus hyper-partisanship and too little time addressing the real challenges that people are facing every day. Certain policy issues should transcend partisan division.

Now locked in a close race, Mr. Perry has recently decided to start claiming that he is a supporter of health care protections, seniors, and bipartisanship. Do not be fooled by this last-minute political expediency. His voting record and past public comments are clearly established facts.

George Scott understands the need for bipartisan solutions. He has spent a lifetime in public service as a battalion commander in the U.S. Army and as a Lutheran pastor in his local community. He is a leader who has solved vital problems for decades.

George is a reformer and an independent voice who cannot be bought. Like Rep. Platts before him, George does not accept a cent of corporate PAC money. In Congress, his first and only loyalty will be to the voters of the 10th District.

I support George Scott wholeheartedly. He has the integrity and compassion to be a champion for the people of the 10th District. 

— Former Republican state Rep. Steve Nickol represented the 193rd House District.