Lorinser speaks to Houghton County
HOUGHTON — A Democratic candidate looking to replace U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman answered questions from citizens in Houghton Tuesday in the second of three town halls he’s holding in the Copper Country this week.
Robert Lorinser spoke to a crowd of about 20 at the Holiday Inn & Suites in Houghton. A Marquette resident since 1989, he currently works as medical director of Marquette County.
After practicing family medicine for almost 25 years, Lorinser left the hospital when it was bought by a for-profit company. He then joined the U.S. Foreign Service, providing medical care for people in the U.S. embassies and consulting the U.S. ambassador on health or medical issues in the areas they advised. He served several tours in areas such as Pakistan, South Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I wanted to go to places that you really needed to serve,” he said.
Coming back to Marquette to retire in 2020, Lorinser instead became the medical director for four health departments in the U.P. He eventually stepped down from three of them, staying on in Marquette County.
“You didn’t get beat up by COVID,” he said. “You got beat up by the hatred of people.”
Lorinser is the only Democratic candidate to have filed. While a Democratic candidate might have been a sacrificial lamb in recent elections, Lorinser said, he believes Bergman is vulnerable because of his Jan. 6, 2021, vote against certifying the presidential election. That vote is what made him decide to run, he said.
“He has made that mistake that wasn’t there in the last couple elections, that has fractured even the Republican party,” he said. “…We’re hoping that they have the courage to say no, to not support somebody that has jeopardized their democracy.”
Lorinser fielded questions on a number of hot-button issues. On abortion, he described himself as “pro-life” (supporting childhood education and health care), “pro-choice” (supporting Roe v. Wade and the Constitutional right to privacy) and anti-abortion (not supporting late-term abortions).
“It’s a very difficult decision that will stay with you for your lifetime,” he said. “I wish most people were not forced with that choice.”
Abortion should be reduced through birth control, education and family planning, Lorinser said.
He supports Planned Parenthood, calling it “necessary reproductive medical care.”
On Ukraine, Lorinser said he supported Ukraine in its fight for democracy. However, he did not believe the U.S. should commit ground troops.
“We’ve done it with Afghanistan, we’ve done it with Iraq,” he said. “They weren’t, in my mind, successes.”
He did not take a stance on whether the U.S. should establish a no-fly zone, saying the experts had more information.
Asked about gun control, Lorinser did not endorse a specific policy, but used the topic as an example of how he would engage people in more productive discussions. Everyone can agree gun violence is a problem, he said; they can also agree there should be a balance between having as much individual liberty as possible and the civic virtue of living under laws.
“We’ve got to get back talking, and right now we’re just throwing out solutions that one side rejects completely, and one side accepts,” he said. “And all they’re saying is, ‘When I get the majority, I’m going to force it upon you.’ That’s probably not the way to pull a nation back together.”
While he does not support making health care free, he backs universal care that would allow a person to maintain their insurance if they lose or change their job. It would also eliminate deductibles and co-pays.
Money to pay for it could be found by eliminating medical waste, he said. He pointed to studies showing $800 million in wasteful medical spending — about a quarter of all spending in the healthcare field.
He also favored reduced spending in college and child care, though not making them free. College costs could be dropped through programs such as early college or “13th grade” programs, or by giving credits for real-life experience in the field. Child care should be means-tested, he said.
“Nothing’s free,” he said. “Us Democrats will get hit by the Republicans because we’re giving things away. No. We want to spend our taxpayer money wisely, or good things.”
Lorinser also set aside five minutes for Nazar Gora and Adelina Oronova, Ukrainian Ph.D. students at Michigan Technological University, to discuss the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Ukrainians are suffering, but they’re standing as a whole nation for Democratic values,” Oronova said.
She encouraged residents to contact their local representatives to ask them to provide resources for Ukraine. Oronova also directed people to the Facebook group Yoopers for Ukraine, which directs people to local events and ways to show support.
Lorinser held a town hall in Calumet Monday and was scheduled to speak in Baraga Wednesday.