Aaron Swisher was born in West Virginia before moving to Boise, Idaho, where he earned a bachelors degree in economics and finance. Swisher worked at Micron Technology as a financial manager and most recently at Clarivate Analytics where he provided anti-fraud services to clients. Swisher is the Author of Resuscitating America: An Independent Voter’s Guide to Restoring the American Dream and an upcoming book entitled The Wealth and Poverty of Capitalist Nations. Swisher lives with his wife and son in Boise.
Q: Tell me about your background and how you came to the decision to run for congress.
I was born and raised in West Virginia, my father was a mailman. In 1993, I moved to attend Boise State where I wrestled for five years and received degrees in economics and finance. I’ve done a number of different things including construction and working in a textile company. I worked at Micron as a cash manager in the treasury department moving money from Europe to the United States and to Asia. I realized that my father made more money in the 1970s and ’80s delivering the mail than I made with two college degrees managing cash for a Fortune 500 company in the 21 century. I studied economics in college and have always done a lot of reading and have been avid about keeping up on my economic knowledge. I started noticing problems with the economy and I started developing those thoughts and writing them down and I ended up putting them into a book that looks at why our country goes through economic recessions and puts forth a comprehensive plan to prevent those recessions from happening. As part of that book I detailed how we could balance the federal budget as well as addressing our energy needs and protecting our environment. The more I looked around I realized Washington wasn’t coming up with the right solutions, neither Democrats nor Republicans. I finally said maybe I should run and promote those ideas, so that’s what I’m doing. I am not a career politician, that is not what I’m trying to be. I think I have answers and that is what I’m trying to do.
Q: In your debate you criticized the current representative, Mike Simpson, for not getting anything done in his time in congress, and you also said that if you were elected and not getting anything done you would expect voters to vote you out as well. If elected what would you mark as progress or getting things done?
There is a lot that needs to be done, I think you need to have a game plan and you have to understand what needs to be done first. Washington isn’t very good at that, Democrats or Republicans. As an example, when Barack Obama first got into office, he sat down with economists and they told him your number one focus should be income disparity, that is the number one issue in the country. Instead of focusing on that, he tried to do healthcare. The first thing you really need to do is fix the economics of it and that will help with healthcare and all the other issues. I think the key is going in, in a bipartisan way, speaking to folks from both sides and have a logical framework and order to the things you’re doing and what you’re trying to get accomplished. Decreasing the gap in income disparity would be the number one thing I would focus on. You’re not going to have a stable economy until that is done and you’re going to continually run into economic problems, into budgetary problems, into social problems, environmental problems. Get that done first, even if you get nothing else done some of those other problems will fix themselves to some degree. The higher your income is the better access to healthcare and education, so even if you don’t get a healthcare bill done or an education bill done by fixing the income disparity, you’ll help with those problems anyways.
Q: What in particular would you do to help middle class America?
For the lower part of the wage scale, you have to raise minimum wage and pair that with tax reform. As you raise the minimum wage, the initial change can be hard for small business but if you pair it with tax reform, you can mitigate those problems and make it a smooth transition. For the working class, middle class and upper middle class, you need to do immigration reform and trade reform and the keys there are making sure that whatever system you set up is fair to American workers. We can have immigrants and trade, there is nothing wrong with those things, in fact they’re good to have, but the systems you set up have to consider the American worker and be fair to those who are already here working. You also have to do corporate tax reform and you need to have some sort of carbon tax or BTU tax so that we are protecting the environment, using energy efficiently and doing that without a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. Finally you need to do some sort of anti-trust regulation so that it is not as easy for companies to merge and acquire one another. Those are some of the beginning steps to helping middle class America and decreasing the wage disparity.
Q: The current administration has passed tax reforms that work on the idea of “trickle down economics” and the idea that if you give the corporations a break it will benefit their workers as well and help everyone out. Would you say that is a move in the right direction or is that further increasing the income disparity?
I think it’s a move in the wrong direction and it is increasing our income and wealth disparity and that is a huge problem. It is interesting that when they were negotiating and putting that tax reform together, not necessarily the corporate taxes, but in terms of individual income taxes, President Trump actually wanted to take that top rate and raise it from 39.6 up to 44 percent and then take that money and use it to simplify the system and reduce taxes lower down. His plan isn’t exactly like my plan but it is the same concept. Bumping taxes on high income, taking that money to simply the system and reduce taxes lower down the scale.
Q: What sets you apart the most from you and the current representative Mike Simpson?
Economics and finance. There is too much that he gets wrong economically and too much that he gets wrong financially. He talks a good game about balancing the budget, but the budget was balanced when he got to Washington. Two years into his career in Washington, he helped unbalance it and it has been unbalanced ever since. So it is really hard for me to hear him say that he is for balancing the budget and fiscal responsibility when we’ve added $16 trillion of national debt since he’s been in office. It’s hard for me to believe that someone is actually fiscally responsible when they’re adding to the national debt like that. When it comes to public lands we see things pretty much eye to eye, when it comes to immigration there may be a couple of differences but for the most part we’re very similar on that. On trade he is much more of a free trader whereas I’m a fair trader. Taxes and economics and finance, in those areas we tend to be far apart on.
Q: Idaho is a very Republican state that voted heavily in favor of President Trump. What gives you the confidence to run as a democrat in such a republican state?
I am not a typical Democrat. I could probably maybe run as a Republican if my opponent wasn’t a republican. I would be a very moderate republican and maybe some republicans wouldn’t accept me. I have used tactics that have been used by Democrats and Republicans, but it’s the combination of those issues that is where my strength lies. When you look at someone like Trump, part of what made him so successful is that people were tired of politicians and career politicians who were there to make a living out of it and not get anything done, and people are tired of what they call the rigged economy, Trump played very well on the rigged economy as did Bernie Sanders. Both of those candidates were seen as outsiders and I am obviously an outsider. I’m not a career politician and I come in talking about how there is an unfair economy and the first step is making the economy fair and not worrying about other things like caravans from Honduras or Brett Kavanaugh. Lets get the economy fixed and then we can move on from there.
Q: This will reach mostly a college student audience. What would you say in particular to that demographic to encourage them to get out to vote particularly for you?
The younger you are, the more you have to gain if the country is heading in the right direction, or the more you have to lose if it’s heading in the wrong direction. This is your time to get out there and make your voice known and show your power and get a say in the way the country is run. I know a lot of people are apathetic and think that our voting system and our democracy doesn’t work and doesn’t represent the people anymore but it does, people just need to be involved. I want an economy where people who have taken out a student loan or taking a risk on investing in themselves by going to college are rewarded by a system that allows them to pay off that student loan or making that investment in themselves paid off. For me, I have two college degrees, I moved 2,000 miles across the country to put myself through college, I took out loans, I worked through college, and I played sports to not only get academic scholarships but athletic scholarships. It was a lot of work to do that and to not get one degree, but two degrees and then to get what I thought was a good job coming out of college, and then realize I can’t pay off my student loans, buy a house or start a family. That’s the American dream and if the American dream isn’t working for college educated students, then it’s just not working. If it’s not working for those who have really sacrificed to improve themselves, then it’s not working for the majority of folks and that’s a huge problem.
Early voting has already begun and the polls open on Nov. 6.